Picture this: You’re in talks with a client of yours who’s asking for the softest, coziest fabric around. The problem? There are multiple apparel materials known for their softness, such as tri-blends and sueded fabric. How do you know which one is right for this project? Don’t worry, Next Level Apparel has got you covered. Refer to this comparison guide the next time your client is asking for soft apparel and you’re sure to steer them in the right direction.
Tri-Blend Fabric Overview
Summary: Great drape, stretch and recovery
Material: 50% polyester, 25% combed ring-spun cotton, 25% rayon
Decoration: Screen printing, heat transfer (only at low temperatures)
Next Level Apparel’s tri-blend fabric is made from the most premium fibers available, second only to silk. The addition of 25% rayon provides a silky hand feel, which combined with polyester and cotton results in excellent draping and hanger appeal. Most standard tri-blends in the industry use only 12-13% rayon to save money, but Next Level didn’t want to cut any corners – they wanted their tri-blend shirts to last a lifetime. Next Level’s tri-blend collection is also the most robust out of all of their offerings, with tons of retail-ready styles available (think: fashionable fits like raglans and tank dresses), as well as a huge color offering that includes heathers, bold jewel tones and vintage hues.
Sueded Fabric Overview
Summary: Buttery soft with a luxe velvet hand feel
Material: 60% cotton, 40% polyester
Decoration: Screen printing, heat transfer
Next Level’s unique sueded fabric is buttery soft and boasts a unique brushed finish unlike anything else in the industry. Sueded fabric goes through a “peaching” process where microfibers are brushed, resulting in a peach fuzz-like texture similar to velvet. Not only is the fuzzy soft feel sure to blow your clients away, it also prints like a dream. Next Level’s proprietary weave gives a tighter knit, which allows both high- and low-density prints. In addition, its processed structure gives you a softness similar to flannel, but without the pilling flannel is known for.
When looking at Next Level’s tri-blend and sueded fabrics, both are top, premium-quality shirts that are also ultra-soft. The difference really comes down to the type of softness. Tri-blend fabric has greater draping and a silky, polished hand feel, almost like a smooth marble counter. On the flip side, sueded fabric feels more like soft peach fuzz or velvet and also has more air in its structure, giving it more body yet limiting its drape. It’s also worth noting that even though the soft textures are different, both fabrics are composed of the same singles and carry the same weight.
The bottom line? If your clients want something soft as well as unique and unexpected, suggest they give sueded fabric a try. The same applies if clients are looking to print using heat transfer, which can melt the rayon used in tri-blend fabrics. As for tri-blends, be sure to recommend these garments for clients who want a wide color and style assortment, or those who prefer silky, drapey pieces over a velvety hand feel.
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