Triblends – a combination of cotton, polyester, and rayon that has risen to become the go-to t-shirt for many in the promotional product marketplace. Since being introduced to the apparel world only a little more than a decade ago, triblends have become not only a popular choice for tees, but are now being used for all different types of garments – and the consumer is loving it. What makes this unique fabric so popular? Let’s find out.
A triblend fabric is comprised of cotton (usually ringspun or combed ringspun), polyester, and rayon. The combination of the three fabrics create an extremely soft blend that can’t be matched with a 100% cotton tee. Rayon fabric carries the soft, lightweight properties of silk, while combed ringspun cotton is generally the softest cotton you will find when it comes to apparel. To take it a step further, triblend fabrics are usually 40 singles spun, which is one of the finest thread weights possible – resulting in a softer, thiner garment.
2. Breathability & Comfort
5-10 years ago performance, moisture-wicking fabrics were all the rage, and not just for athletes. The average Joe was turning to Under Armour or Nike moisture-wicking technology tees for maximum breathability and comfort in an everyday t-shirt. Now, with triblends, those polyester properties are being added to a soft, more fashionable tee. Basically every NBA player you see warming up on the court before the game is wearing a triblend now, instead of a polyester tee. Why is that? The fabric doesn’t keep heat trapped between the fabric and your skin, while also wicking it away like your traditional polyester. It’s the best of both worlds.
With softness and comfort comes a better overall fit. Gone are the days when people were happy with wearing cheap, boxy tees. Fashion-forward, “european” type cuts are prominent now more than ever. Nobody wants a loose, baggy shirt. The thinness of triblends and the ‘drapey’ properties of rayon result in a more form-fitting garment. The good news is that triblends will stretch. They seem to lay perfect on any body type, giving a fashionable look and fit to go along with maximum comfort.
Many people automatically assume that triblends can’t be decorated the same way as basic 100% cotton tees. That’s not the case. Still, many people do prefer a softer, more ‘vintagy’ print to match the look and feel of a high-quality triblend. Usually this can be done with a light plastisol print and no underbase.
Another popular method of decorating a triblend is with sublimation. While the triblend itself can’t be sublimated directly, a full-color sublimated accent (like a custom hood in a triblend hoodie or custom pocket on a triblend t-shirt) adds a retail-quality look to a retail-quality blank. Many brands are leaving the traditional screen print to the boxy cotton tees and branding their triblends with the trendier look of a sublimated accent.
So what’s the downside of triblends? Everything sounds so good, right? Well, they almost always cost more than a 100% cotton tee. But nowadays, consumers seem to be willing to pay for the quality that the triblend brings when it comes to softness, breathability, comfort, fit, and decorating techniques. With manufacturers bringing triblend fabrics to other garments including full zips, 3/4 sleeve baseball tees, etc., it’s time to hop aboard the triblend train while you still can.