So what makes BELLA+CANVAS so special? It all comes down to the product. Over two decades ago, we took the industry by storm by offering a premium garment that was unlike anything else on the market. Since then, we have continued to stay true to our motto to BE DIFFERENT. There are so many details that go into making our tees the best fitting and feeling shirt possible, so we figured it was about time we took you through our American-strong manufacturing process and talk about all things T-shirt design.
T-SHIRT DESIGN CONCEPT
Our T-shirt design process is highly collaborative. We have a team of people from different departments that come together to brainstorm new styles and colors. The inspiration behind the new innovations are often based on what’s trending in the retail space. It’s important to us to stay fashion-forward and provide unique styles that are trending in retail on the wholesale level. This is extremely evident with our Fast Fashion collection. Fast Fashion is a specifically tailored engine that helps us reach out to more fashion-oriented customers that want to buy and look into more advanced and progressive styles.
Once we have our new concepts, we turn to our blocks. A T-shirt block is a pattern representing the essence and dimensions of the base size of a T-shirt. The block is like the chassis of a car, the foundation of a house or the skeleton of the human body. It is the cylinder size of a T-shirt – or the circumference of a body. It’s made up of the measurement of the chest width and something called the HPS, which is an acronym for High Point Shoulder. The HPS is a vertical measurement or length of the block body. A block allows us to establish consistency across sizes and styles, so when a new style is born, you build upon existing blocks, rather than starting from scratch each time.
Blocks are just the starting point though. We use them as a springboard to establish the basic dimensions of a style. A big reason why our products stand out is because we are very particular about how our garments fit. Since we are an advanced basics brand rooted in a commodity T-shirt market, we want to hit the critical mass. The way we do that is by cross-referencing every height and body weight for every body type. We have a ¼-inch variance standard on over 20 points, meaning the length of a medium tee will always be within a ¼-inch of the other tees in the same size/style. We place a big focus on tailoring and contouring. Most companies just fit one size and then do generic grading from there, but we fit every single size model, from XS to 4XL in some cases to make sure the every body type experiences the same amazing fit.
Choosing the right fabric for a particular silhouette is critical in achieving that optimal fit. We create all of our fabric, starting at the thread level. Meaning, instead of buying bulk goods, we work with yarn spinners to develop the best possible fabric, and the fabric we develop is unique to BELLA+CANVAS, our secret recipe, if you will. Fabric R&D is a big part of what we do, not only in innovation, but in trying to be in the forefront of a commodity line that introduces fabrics on a large-scale. And it goes beyond just fabric, it’s also on the yarn level. We want to control the supply of yarn all the way through the production process. Because we have that control from the very beginning, it allows us to create new ways to engineer basic fabrics, enhance common knitting practices and test updated yarn spinning processes.
After establishing design, sizing, silhouette and fabric, it’s time to sew the garment together. All of our products have side seams, meaning we will never produce a tubular tee. A tubular tee is essentially a tube around the human body, like a sock. As we’ve mentioned, fit is very important to us, so even though it’s the more time-consuming and premium option, our garments are designed to fit the human body in the most flattering way.
As you can see in the video below, our T-shirt design process is very intricate and detailed. It’s the foundation of what we do, it’s the core of what makes us different and it’s just the beginning of our American-strong manufacturing process.