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The $300 'perfect' T-shirt
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My idea of a quality T-shirt is a California muscle shirt made by Urban Pipeline.

It’s not because I have muscles. It’s because of the fit on the arm and shoulder, plus the fact regular T-shirts tend to look pretty bad after a few weeks of wear and washing. (I sweat a lot.)

I avoid white and any light color for the simple reason I think they make me look like the Goodyear blimp. Credit that to once weighing 320 pounds and having a difficult time visualizing myself in any other way.

Usually I wait until Kohl’s is selling the muscle T-shirts at $6 apiece and I clear out every large shirt in a dark color. But I will pay full retail for black Urban Pipeline shirts that are hard to find. (Sorry, I will not buy clothes over the Internet). That’s $12 apiece, rapidly closing in on my threshold of pain for a dress shirt.

So you can see why I believe spending $12 is a little extravagant for what is basically a T-shirt.

I may, however, have to revise my thinking. There are people out there paying $150 a pop for a plain white T-shirt. Of course, these people don’t shop at Target, Kohl’s, Old Navy or even Wal-Mart. Actually I don’t think they technically shop as they probably hire someone to do that for them.

If $150 is a little too rich for your blood to fork over for a T-shirt with the name James Perse or Vince on the label (which by the way looks like the same cheap label material on a Fruit of the Loom 99-cent special even though you’d expect it to have gold stitching at that price), check out the T-shirt by A.P.C. that has been called “The Minimalist” by fashion critics.

Company founder Jean Touitou is quoted in The Wall Street Journal as saying the shirt is “perfect” in that the neckline has the same fabric as the shirt. The price is anything but minimalist. It’s $120.

My favorite is Levi’s Vintage Clothing T-shirt dubbed “Mr. Throwback” as the cotton has the same weight in it as the T-shirts some of us wore in the 1950s.

That T-shirt in 1953 that James Dean wore cost 79 cents. James Dean, if he were alive today, would have a hard time buying one unless he had invested his retirement funds wisely. Levi’s Vintage Clothing wants $88 for one “Mr. Throwback.”

Since the Navy rolled out the first T-shirt in 1913 to be worn under uniforms, T-shirts have been lauded as being unitarian and affordable.

Consumer surveys show men expect their T-shirts to last at least four years. But at $88 a pop they’d better last for my great-great-grandkids.

The fashion folks say that the rise in high-end T-shirts – now there is an oxymoron if there ever was one, right Archie Bunker? – is just the beginning of a trend.

They expect fashion T-shirts to explode as a market just like fashion denim.

So you understand this, there are no designs on these T-shirts, no sequins, no gold, nothing but fabric and they either are white or gray. And if you thought firms selling bottles of water that is essentially no different than what comes from the tap at a price markup of close to 2,000 percent had a scam going, guess again.

The day may not be far off when you will be able to go to trendy stores and pay $300 for a pre-worn T-shirt with holes, loose threads, and stain marks that just won’t come out.

Rich folks will be dropping off gently used high-end T-shirts to Goodwill and claiming a $75 per T-shirt tax deduction for each one they donate.

My idea of splurging for a “perfect” T-shirt at $12 would barely cover the cost of the sales tax on a solid gray $120 T-shirt by A.P.C. 

Yes, the rich are different than you and I. They frame their T-shirts when they wear out. You and I use them to wipe the dipstick when we check our engine oil.

This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Journal  or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209.249.3519.