Meet our product development team, pictured sporting our latest products - entirely British-made t-shirts for women.
Following the launch of our first Britspun t-shirts in May, we received many requests for women’s versions. So, the team set to work creating classic tees worthy of a place in every woman’s wardrobe for years to come.
And they’ve come up with two wardrobe-staple shapes, designed to stay in style for as long as our star grade Supima cotton promises to last.
A rare commodity
Garment and fabric development manager, Becca Sampson, said women looking to buy a truly British-made cotton t-shirt currently have fewer options than men but our women’s range aims to offer more than just ‘filling a gap in the market’.
Becca, who is pictured wearing our Belle crew neck in black, said: “Of all our trade customers who’ve used our yarns and fabrics for t-shirts so far, most of them have been menswear brands and labels.
“A truly British-made t-shirt is an even rarer commodity for women than it is for men, so at first it seems an obvious solution – just fill the gap in the market and you'll sell hundreds of t-shirts.
“But men and women’s shopping habits are very different and there are different considerations when you’re making a product women will want to invest in."
More than quality and longevity
A cotton t-shirt – and a plain one at that – needs to be particularly special to stand out from the vast number of styles of tops offered up to women by fast-fashion retailers.
It’s well documented that a high-quality cotton fabric will last for many years. And Extra Long Staple (ELS) cotton yarns like ours are renowned for making garments that retain shape and colour, resist bobbling and stay looking good for longer.
But these attributes aren’t always top priorities for women in Britain, where the average life-span of an item of clothing is just seven wears. Worse still, in The State of Fashion 2019 report, one in three women admitted they considered a garment already worn once to be old.
Ticking all the boxes
Becca said: “While our t-shirts will last for years, they also need to be t-shirts women will want to wear for years. For that, the t-shirt needs to be superior in comfort, fit and quality as well as being flattering, ultra-versatile and a timeless style.
“That’s a lot of boxes to tick but we needed to make sure our t-shirts met all of those specifications ”
The results are the ‘Belle’, which is a simple, slim fitting crew neck tee and the ‘Zoe’, a body-skimming “boyfriend” fit with a flattering V-neck. The t-shirts are available in XS to XXL – so for women who usually wear UK sizes 6-20 – and come in white, black or classic navy.
How a plain cotton t-shirt can stand out in the crowd
While they sound pretty ordinary so far, both t-shirts are made from our Thames fabric which makes them anything but.
All our Supima fabrics have a natural sheen and softness, but this close-knitted light weight jersey is visibly lustrous and smooth – giving the t-shirts a noticeable luxurious quality and providing superlative comfort.
The t-shirts are sewn and finished at Tower Mill by our small team of skilled makers. Product developer and quality control technician, Zoe Patrickson, says this in-house manufacturing has resulted in carefully honed designs and fit.
Made with care
Zoe, who is pictured wearing our V-neck in white, said: “We’ve been able to test the t-shirts and perfect the designs right the way through the production process. Sometimes by just the smallest details such as making the V-neck deeper, then taking it up a little again, making the t-shirts a bit longer, or tweaking the sleeves.
“The t-shirts are not mass produced, we’re making them in small batches and so we’re able to control quality tightly. Every one of them is made with care and a degree of perfectionism that makes an ordinary-sounding t-shirt something a bit special.”
Timeless and versatile
Zoe has a favourite of the two styles – the V-neck, which has been named after her. She said: “This is my all-time favourite style of t-shirt. The V-neck is very flattering and the slightly oversized shape is really comfortable – particularly with this t-shirt because the fabric is so soft.
“With both shapes we were aiming for styles that would go with anything. I love wearing this with jeans, but it looks good tucked into a skirt and great underneath a blazer.
“And the Belle is just as versatile, with a more tailored fit that you can dress up or down. Both the Belle and the Zoe deserve a place in any woman’s capsule wardrobe.”
More women's styles will be added to our range of t-shirts in the near future - including a Breton tee made with our very popular navy and white striped jersey fabric. There are also plans for more colours and printed t-shirts in the pipeline.
The finished products
Becca said the product development team think the new t-shirts will be well received by the people who asked for them.
She said: “We’re always aware at English Fine Cottons that we’ve got a very loyal band of supporters who’ve been following our story since the beginning – and many more who’ve joined us along the way. They’ve all got a genuine interest in what we do and their values are the same as ours.
“A large proportion of those people are women, and some of them have wanted these products enough to ask us to make them, so we really hope they like them as much as we do.”
While our team have been very busy working on our women’s t-shirts, they haven’t forgotten about the men and there’s two new styles for them too. For more information, click here