You will notice that many of our product pages make mention of pre-shrunk garments. For example, our February 2022 exclusive T-shirt – which has sold quite well, by the way – is made of 100% ring-spun cotton and is pre-shrunk. But what does that mean? What does it mean to pre-shrink fabric and why does it matter?
Pre-shrinking is a process that manufacturers put certain types of fabrics through in order to reduce shrinkage later. They do not want you paying good money for a high-quality anime T-shirt, only for you to end up experiencing a significant amount of shrinkage that makes the shirt unwearable. To guarantee that doesn't happen, they shrink the fabric either prior to manufacturing garments or just before shipping finished garments.
Cotton Shrinks in the Wash
Natural fibers are very porous. As such, so are natural fabrics. That's why a 100% ring-spun cotton T-shirt absorbs so much water whenever you wash it. Unfortunately, the first time you wash virgin cotton, water seeping into the pores and then being extracted causes the porous fibers to compress. That compression manifests itself as fabric shrinkage.
Depending on the type of fabric and how compressed it naturally is, you could experience minimal shrinking in the wash. On the other hand, shrinking can also reduce a garment's size significantly. When you're talking T-shirts, sweatshirts, and the like, you want minimal shrinkage over the life of the garment. That's why T-shirt and sweatshirt manufacturers pre-shrink their cotton and poly-cotton blends beforehand.
Pre-shrinking is not a complicated process. You simply soak the material, extract the water, and press the material dry in order to guarantee consistent compression across the entire piece of fabric. Once it's dry, it can be cut up into individual pieces for making T-shirts and sweatshirts.
Most of the Shrinkage
Pre-shrinking fabric prior to manufacturing garments is one way to minimize shrinkage after customer purchases. However, pre-shrinking only eliminates most of the shrinkage. It doesn't guarantee that a T-shirt or sweatshirt will never shrink again. In reality, a garment can continue to shrink as long as there is room for more compression. So then what's the point of pre-shrinking?
If you were to buy any of our anime clothing pieces, be they T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, etc., you could expect minimal shrinkage over the life of those garments. If any additional shrinkage does occur, it is not likely to be noticeable. Between 2% and 7% over many years of wearing and washing is about average. For most people, that's negligible.
Why We Still Use Cotton
It might seem strange to use cotton or poly-cotton blends to make T-shirts and sweatshirts when we know the material shrinks. But just think about how comfortable T-shirts and sweatshirts are. What makes them so comfortable is the material. A sweatshirt made of polyester just wouldn't be as comfortable. A T-shirt made of wool just wouldn't cut it.
It is worth going to the effort to preshrink fabric prior to making our anime sweatshirts and T-shirts because the fabric itself feels so soft on the skin. So manufacturers pre-shrink to minimize the problems. The rest of us get to enjoy fantastic hoodies and tees made of an incredibly soft material that is just as comfortable after five years as it was the day it was manufactured.
And now you know why our 100% ring-spun cotton T-shirts come pre-shrunk. It is the same reason all our pre-shrunk garments have been treated for shrinkage by the manufacturer. It's all about guaranteeing that you get a piece of clothing that fits; a garment that doesn't shrink the first time you put in the wash.