Fabric 101: A Look at Our Tees From the Yarn Up

By Alternative
May 5, 2014


It’s time to give credit where credit is due. Back when Alternative first started, we set out to replicate the perfectly broken-in softness of a thrift store tee, taking us on an ongoing journey through fabric innovation that’s shaped our mantra: fabric first.

The tee is, and will always be, an Alternative essential, so we thought it was time to give you a closer look at some of the fabrics that set our tees apart from the rest.


As an extra long staple cotton, Pima is exceptionally soft with a subtle sheen and cool touch. We use 100% organic Pima cotton for our best basics in a range of silhouettes, like our Organic Pima Henley. These are the tees that get softer and, dare we say, better over time due to the fact that you can expect minimal pilling with proper care. 


Our “Muslin” Sailor Stripe Jersey gets its name for its resemblance to muslin, thanks to visible brown flecks imparted by cotton seeds usually removed during the fiber cleaning process. Created from a 100% organic short staple cotton, tees like our Organic Cotton Tee, have a slightly drier hand, or feel than Pima cotton and a more substantial weight, which makes them perfect to wear on their own and unlikely to be mistaken for an undershirt.


Modal is a manufactured cellulose-based fiber derived from beech tree pulp with qualities similar to cotton, but with an added benefit: it absorbs water 50% more quickly than cotton, giving it a natural wicking ability. Our cotton modal blend has a slight sheen to its face and a fluid drape, shown beautifully in our Essential Cotton Modal T-Shirt.


A natural cellulose-based fiber derived from the flax plant, linen has excellent breathability to keep you cool in warm weather. Our linen styles are washed for added softness and an easy drape.

Written by Tiffani Williams and Rachel Manage

Photos by Andrew Lee

Graphics by Jacky Wasserman

Alternative is a tight-knit tribe of doers who work in sync to share stories, art, and a tedious focus on the impact we have on the clothing lifecycle. See what we have to say.

Related: Sustainability

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Fabric first – eco-friendly clothing designed with purpose.