So, you’ve gone off the deep end and started looking at fabric weight when shopping for T-shirts. Congratulations, you are now a fully certified menswear weirdo, just like all of us here – welcome!
To an outsider, the weight of a T-shirt might seem like a non-issue. After all, most brands don’t even specify the GSM (grams per square metre, that’s how weight is measured) of their materials, so can it really be that important? To some men, perhaps not, but if you’re bothered about how a T-shirt drapes, how long it lasts, and how the fabric ages then it’s an important factor to consider. And if you really like to get the most out of your basics, proper heavyweight tees are the best way to go.
We love a nice thick T-shirt here at Ape. So much so that we’re on a perpetual, unending quest to find the very best heavyweight T-shirt brands out there. Below are the best options we’ve found so far, and what to look out for when you’re shopping for yours.
What Makes A Heavyweight T-Shirt?
So, how heavy does a tee have to be before it can be classed as ‘heavyweight’? There’s no iron-clad definition or threshold, but for the sake of argument we’d say anything with a GSM of 200 or above.
Heavyweight T-shirts are thicker and (quelle surprise) heavier than their lightweight and mid-weight alternatives. They can be rougher to the touch too, but this is usually just the case with those at the lower end of the pricing spectrum – your Gildans and Kirklands, for example. Soft, heavyweight T-shirts do exist and can be found for reasonable prices if you know where to look. Uniqlo U’s tees are substantial, soft to the touch and affordable, but the boxy cuts won’t be for everyone.
The increased fabric weight tends to mean that heavyweight T-shirts hang better on the frame than lightweight alternatives. Thin fabric leaves little to the imagination in terms of your body’s lumps and bumps, but a heavyweight tee can smooth things out and flatten the torso. This makes them a great option for bigger guys.
The Best Heavyweight T-Shirt Brands
In the market for a heavyweight T-shirt or two? We’ve compiled a carefully selected list of our favourite heavyweight T-shirt brands, with options to cater to all budgets. Whether you’re looking to stock up on affordably priced basics or splurge on something more luxurious, these are the labels to shop.
Uniqlo calls its ‘U’ range a “collection of Future LifeWear Essentials”… whatever that means. All we know is it’s full of simple, boxy-fitting basics, including some of the best and most affordable heavyweight tees out there.
The standard Uniqlo U crew-neck T-shirt is lovely and thick with a slouchy, oversized cut, and comes in a huge selection of tasteful colours. Best of all, they come in under £15, so they’re an excellent option when it comes to stocking up.
Everlane is always a reliable option when it comes to good-quality basics, including heavyweight tees. The brand’s Premium-Weight Crew is made from 6.2oz cotton, and comes in a palette of earthy and muted colours.
The best part? If it gets a hole or develops a fault, Everlane will replace it up to a year after purchase.
Upmarket H&M sub-brand Arket is one of the best places on the high street to shop for T-shirts. Everything is beautifully colour coordinated and fabric weight is always specified on the swing tag of each tee.
The brand’s signature heavyweight T-shirt is cut from 220GSM fabric, and is available in a good selection of colours, including a Breton-stripe option.
Hanes is a brand that should need no introduction. The American essentials label makes cheap-and-cheerful staples like sweatshirts, thermals and T-shirts, and its Beefy-T is well known as one of the most affordable and best heavyweight tees around.
It’s 6oz (equivalent to around 200GSM), comes in plenty of colours, and can be yours for less than a tenner. Is it the highest quality T-shirt out there? No, but at such a reasonable price it’s pretty hard to pick fault.
Camber is an American brand known for its high-quality, heavy-duty basics. It only sells wholesale, but it can be found at certain retailers, even here in the UK. All products, T-shirts included, are manufactured in the USA, and the Max-Weight tees in particular are some of the beefiest to be found anywhere.
Hailing from France, Armor-Lux is best known for its Breton tops, but there’s more to this historic fashion label than just stripy long-sleeves. Nowadays, the brand’s range incorporates everything from anoraks to overshirts, and, most importantly, some of the best-fitting heavyweight tees we’ve managed to find.
Armor-Lux’s classic T-shirt is made from thick (but not too thick) cotton and cut relatively boxy in the body. Super comfortable, and a great choice for an every day uniform plain tee.
How could we make a list about T-shirts and not mention Gildan? It’s about as no-frills as T-shirt brands come but it makes some great blanks and could be a good choice if you’re on a budget or are looking to stock up.
Gildan offers lots of different cuts and weights of tees, but when it comes to heavyweight versions, the Heavy Cotton T-Shirt is the standout. Granted, it’s a bit lighter than the competition – 175GSM for white and 185GSM for colours – but it’s still distinctly thick and weighty, and at a mere £2.50 it’s hard to go wrong.
A denim brand first and foremost, 3Sixteen started out making premium jeans using exclusive, custom-made Japanese denim. The goal was to produce a product that was built to stand the test of time, and to develop character with every wear. This process begins with the fabric, which is an approach that the brand applies to the rest of its collection too.
Take the heavyweight T-shirts for example. 3Sixteen’s classic garment-dyed pocket tee is made from a custom-knit Canadian jersey cotton that weighs 225GSM, sewn together in the USA. Last but not least, it’s garment dyed in Los Angeles, keeping the whole production process on North American soil.
Velva Sheen was established in 1932 as a sportswear brand that supplied sweats and T-shirts to collegiate sports teams and the military. Suffice to say the kit had to be built to take a beating, which is still very much the case today. In fact, if you want to go really heavyweight, the brand offers a short-sleeve sweatshirt that’s somewhere between a tee and a crewneck sweat… in other words, about as heavyweight as it gets.
Sunray’s tees aren’t particularly wallet-friendly, but if you want an upscale option that’s heavier than 90% of the competition, it’s one of the best there is. The Cornish brand’s T-shirt fabric is all Japanese and can weigh anything from 260 to 300GSM, making these tees some of the heaviest you can buy.
Additionally, the tube construction of the torso means there are no side seams, which creates less tension in the fabric and therefore no post-wash twisting. Is all of that worth the £60 price tag? We’ll leave that for you to decide.