Clothing > Shirts

14 Best Men’s T-Shirt Brands to Update Your Basics

By Beau Hayhoe  |  Updated November 29, 2023

14 Best Men’s T-Shirt Brands to Update Your Basics

You could make the argument that there’s nothing more vital in a man’s casual wardrobe, or even his everyday wardrobe, than the humble yet hard-working T-shirt. It’s a true style staple and a certified classic – and there are options aplenty to suit every taste and look.


WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
  • A tee for all times: There’s a huge number of T-shirt styles, along with plentiful fabric varieties, from multiple types of cotton tees to modern merino wool. There’s surely a tee for your own style or application.
  • A certified classic: Since Marlon Brando and James Dean wore white T-shirts on the big screen, the tee has become a daily menswear must-have, and the right tee looks great on every guy.
  • Dressed up or down: You should be able to wear your favorite T-shirt all on its own as easily as you can layer it with a rugged denim jacket or even a soft-shouldered blazer.

There’s the crisp nature of the timeless white T-shirt, there’s the anything-goes versatility of the pocket tee (with a visually interesting chest pocket to shake things up), and there are modern options in flattering cuts, as with curved-hem T-shirts.

And that brings me to my next point: There are also more T-shirt brands out there than you can shake a stick at. But as a guy who wears all kinds of T-shirts seemingly every day as I work from home and explore the borough of Brooklyn, I know a thing or two about the best T-shirt brands.

Any wardrobe can be made better by wearing a great T-shirt, so here’s a fine starting place – in my experience – as far as this reliable fashion favorite is concerned.




American Giant



American Giant doesn’t back down when it comes to American-made manufacturing, and that reflects itself in the quality of its T-shirts.

The brand might be best known for its near-indestructible Classic Full-Zip Hoodie, but the San Francisco-based company doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to building its durable, timeless T-shirts.

They craft three varieties of T-shirt (a heavier, boxy Everest Tee, a heavyweight Cotton Slub and Classic Cotton options), working with factories in Los Angeles.

Take your pick from a huge variety of colors, and maybe throw in a pair of the brand’s rugged, USA-made denim for good measure.






Everlane



In search of a relatively affordable, minimal company making some fine looking T-shirts? That would be Everlane, which covers all the bases in your T-shirt rotation.

There’s the middle-of-the-road organic cotton option, or for $15 more, step things up with a premium-weight cotton crewneck T-shirt – the heavier weight should drape nicely and provide an interesting, more boxy fit.

You can also bundle Everlane T-shirts to get multiple colors for a solid deal, and San Francisco-based Everlane is also upfront about making T-shirts in locales like Vietnam.






Fresh Clean Threads



It’s sometimes best as you shop for your menswear wardrobe to keep things relatively simple. So when it comes to finding a perfect T-shirt, going right to the source and shopping a brand that emphasizes making some of the best T-shirts for men is more than ideal. With Fresh Clean Threads, the options are nearly endless.

The San Diego-based brand offers up seemingly limitless bundles of staple T-shirts like the polyester-spandex-lyocell Foundation Performance Tee or its proprietary stretch cotton Summer Essentials Crewneck. Classic color options abound, and the savings get even better as you bundle these T-shirts.






James Perse



The subtle style details often make the difference in a great outfit, and James Perse has those details dialed to perfection with its lineup of stylish, easygoing premium T-shirts.

From lightweight jersey cotton to garment-washed 100 percent classic cotton, the fabric used by James Perse in its Los Angeles-designed T-shirts is truly next-level – you might say it’s a difference you’ve got to see, touch and feel to believe.

There are also V-neck, curved hem and split-tail design options, too. What’s even cooler is the astonishing array of luxe style options and premium colorways – there are more possibilities than perhaps any brand on the market, particularly if you want a classic T-shirt you can wear with selvedge denim.






Buck Mason



What’s great about shopping the best T-shirt brands for men is finding a brand that produces a shirt so classic, it looks like it could have been pulled from a vintage Polaroid.

From sturdy straight-hem T-shirts in pima cotton to ultra-flattering curved hem tees in dusty, throwback colors, Buck Mason T-shirts check all the right boxes every single step of the way.

The brand also now makes some of its T-shirts in the USA, another signifier of quality and impeccable design. Once you try one Buck Mason T-shirt, you’ll want a drawer full of ‘em (speaking from my experience).






Sunspel



Unparalleled luxury is undoubtedly the name of the game for British menswear masters Sunspel.

The brand makes a polo shirt worn by none other than James Bond, and the rest of its rotation is nothing short of a top-level class in how to make even the most straightforward basics look and feel super-premium.

The fashion brand uses rare materials like Sea Island cotton in some of its crisply designed crewneck tees, as well as midweight cotton for the Riviera Tee worn by Bond in Casino Royale.






J.Crew



We’ve said it before and we’ll surely say it again (and this menswear writer certainly agrees) – it seems like there’s not all that much that iconic American menswear brand J.Crew can’t do.

Sure, the brand revolutionized the way guys wear suits, and made classics like the chambray shirt into a daily style move, but its basics are just as wearable for the modern man.

The ultra-soft Broken-in Short-Sleeve Tee in double-washed 100 percent cotton is a 21st-century must-have available for a premium-yet-accessible price in a huge range of colors, while its graphic tees are fun and vibrant, too.






KOTN



The Great North (AKA Canada) might seem a more likely destination for making some of the best winter parkas than designing laidback everyday T-shirts, but KOTN has perfected a modern formula with its approach.

In fact, the brand uses 100 percent Egyptian long-staple cotton – a soft, premium fiber with a durable weave – to craft a range of T-shirts in both Egypt and Portugal.

The fits are classic, the colors are easy to mix and match, and they also offer Relaxed and Boxy designs for every man’s preference.






L’Estrange London



Can a T-shirt appear polished and crisp, and even slightly dressy… rather than overly casual? L’Estrange London, with roots across the pond, thinks so, and T-shirts like the Classic Tee back up that sentiment nicely.

That tee in particular is made from organic cotton, but the company’s Kapok Tee might be among the most unique on the market.

It uses kapok fiber derived from ceiba trees, which is then woven through with organic cotton for a super-soft feel and a distinctive finish. It’s a natural fiber resulting in some of the best T-shirts for men.






Wax London



It’s a given that any menswear wardrobe should at least feature a few versatile T-shirts in neutral, classic colors like black, navy and white. And if those T-shirts are made from sustainable organic cotton, as British brand Wax London’s T-shirts happen to be, well, that’s all the better.

And yet, options abound from the London atelier, including striped options that call to mind iconic maritime styles. There are also tonal stripe and ombre stripe options, each of which seem to be fan favorites. For a T-shirt that’s eye-catching on its own, pick up a striped number from Wax London.






UNIQLO



You’d be surprised what you can find when you scour the menswear market for highly affordable styles that don’t sacrifice quality. Japanese casual style giant UNIQLO has that equation locked in, from its minimal chinos and chore jackets to its easy-to-wear T-shirts.

Most of them retail for well under $20, but it’s the fabric that makes a real difference. You’ve got access to options made with cotton and polyester via UNIQLO’s AIRism fabric (a personal favorite), and there are also quick-drying, moisture-wicking crewneck options to wear as a base layer on especially humid days.






Unbound Merino



In my personal opinion, your T-shirt drawer isn’t quite complete without a merino T-shirt made by one of the best T-shirt brands for men.

Merino wool has benefits aplenty, from the fact that it retains its shape after repeat wear, to the real winner: It wicks away moisture and stays soft to the touch without pilling.

All of those benefits make for a standout T-shirt, one that excels on hiking trips or park strolls. Toronto-based Unbound Merino also makes a raglan-sleeve option for workouts, but its crisp, straightforward merino crewneck tees are your most versatile bet.






Forty-Five



As it turns out, when Huckberry sets its mind to something, the results are usually pretty stellar (and fast-selling).

The San Francisco and Austin-based company has quite nearly perfected the classic T-shirt – they based the design and the name off the “perfect” nature of the 45 RPM single, after all. That intensive focus results in a range of T-shirt designs that are made with care in the U.S.A from high-quality materials like USA-grown Supima cotton.

There’s a number of tried-and-true crewneck options, as well as super-soft slub, V-neck and curved hem T-shirts for the taking, each one more perfect than the last.






Taylor Stitch



With Taylor Stitch, you’ve got options. The brand, which was founded in San Francisco with a laser focus on perfecting the classic men’s buttondown shirt, now does more than a bit of everything, and it seems customers tend to put together entire looks only wearing Taylor Stitch.

The company’s line of rugged, sustainable T-shirts makes it easier than ever: Take a chance on the soft, textured Cotton Hemp Tees, shop with eco-friendly style in mind via the brand’s line of Organic Cotton Tees, or go for my personal favorite: The durable Heavy Bag Tee, made from upcycled and recycled fibers for a rugged touch and substantial drape.




Types of T-shirt Fabrics to Know

Before you can dial in your perfect fit and your preferred T-shirt brand, start with the basics – the fabric that goes into your T-shirt is as crucial as any other design detail. Here are some commonly found T-shirt materials.

Slub Cotton: Slub cotton fabric is defined by its twisted weave, giving it a textured feel and “speckles” of contrasting thread and color. In my experience, it’s an eye-catching T-shirt fabric with an intentional design that elevates it from a plain tee or undershirt into something that makes a statement on its own.
Merino Wool: Merino wool is among the most modern of T-shirt fabrics. It’s derived from Merino sheep and prized for its anti-microbial, moisture-wicking properties and durability. Merino T-shirts, in my opinion, are an excellent option for road trips and packing light – provided your T-shirt doesn’t get put through the ringer, a merino tee can comfortably be worn at least two days in a row.
Organic Cotton: Organic cotton has picked up steam in recent years as far as the best T-shirt brands are concerned. Sustainability is the name of the game in the menswear world these days, and I appreciate the eco-friendly nature of organic cotton. It’s better for the environment, it saves on water usage and excess fabric, and I’ve also found that organic cotton is both strong and soft to the touch.
Supima Cotton: Supima cotton is a type of USA-grown cotton that represents less than one percent of the cotton grown in the world. Of course, that’s still quite a lot of material, but it sets itself apart from the pack thanks to a super-soft, fine feel to the touch (and on your skin). Supima cotton, in my personal experience, tends to make for durable yet soft T-shirts that hold their shape, and you might say Supima cotton makes a wonderful foundation for the best men’s T-shirts on the market.
Hemp: Hemp is another fiber that’s seen more and more use in the world of T-shirts, and that’s great news all around. Hemp helps regenerate soil as it grows, and often makes for a T-shirt with a sturdy yet lightweight, textured feel. I’ve found that brands like Wellen (as designed and sold by Huckberry) tend to make some of the best hemp and hemp-blend T-shirts on the market.
Jersey Cotton: Think of your favorite hooded sweatshirt or even a retro-minded short-sleeve crewneck sweatshirt. There’s a good chance that part of the sweatshirt was made with a type of jersey cotton. And yet, jersey cotton also makes for a sporty, performance-minded tee. It might be the stretchiest of T-shirt fabrics out there today, yet it also retains its shape and works well if you want a T-shirt with a slightly thicker feel and fabric – perhaps for layering under a rugged canvas undershirt on a cool night (my personal preference for wearing this type of T-shirt).
Cotton Blends: While merino wool is a type of performance T-shirt material, and options like hemp and organic cotton are highly sustainable, you very well might find that most of the best T-shirt brands use a cotton blend in crafting their T-shirts. That could mean incorporating a fiber like hemp, or else something stretchy, like recycled polyester or Tencel. Some super-lightweight T-shirts even use cotton and linen for a breezy, open weave.
I’ve also made a list of the best long sleeve tees




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