In the early 2010s, the demand for rayon blended vintage tees was a bi-product of the surge of vintage tee popularity in Thailand and Malaysia. A t-shirt with a tag that features a rayon blend can make even the most run-of-the-mill design much more desirable (and valuable.) Heads up to all you sellers and pickers out there – shirts you typically passed over during the pick can be well worth grabbing given these tags can trump a mediocre design. Many sellers on top of their game are now including “rayon” in the title of their listing if the tee in question features the fiber. Furthermore, this trend has increased the price of already sought-after prints that just happen to be on a t-shirt with rayon.
What’s the big deal with rayon fabric blends? And why does the trend seem indigenous to these two countries? Well, it actually has a lot to do with the climate in this region of the world. Thailand and Malaysia both share a tropical climate characterized by heat and humidity. Contrary to popular belief, rayon isn’t an artificial fiber like polyester. However, it also doesn’t occur naturally like cotton. It’s classified as “manufactured” yet still a by-product of something natural, unlike polyester. Rayon is ideal for hot and humid climates because it has the same absorptive and breathable qualities of cotton and it doesn’t insulate body heat like polyester. So a t-shirt that features a blend as such: 44% Poly, 43% Cotton, and 13% Rayon (Wolf) make it superior to a 50/50 poly/cotton blend in terms of comfortable wear in a tropical climate. Since the rayon has cotton-like properties the t-shirt mimics the feel of a 44/56 poly/cotton blend – small percentages that are appreciated on a hot day.
Rayon tees with a more common blend of 50% poly, 35% cotton, and 15% rayon are actually more durable than standard tees. Since they have a higher percentage of stronger fibers they can better withstand the test of time from wear and your washing machine. As the cotton deteriorates the other two fibers hold strong creating a micro ventilated shirt due to the lack of cotton fibers in the fabric weave. The optimal paper-thin-worn tees are those comprised partially of rayon because you’re still left with a fiber that has natural qualities when the cotton has called it quits.
And weather conditions aside, rayon just plain enhances the life of your vintage t-shirt. So seek ’em out and wear ’em more often.
Brands that are known to have a line of rayon blends:
- Russel Athletic
- Stedman (Sport-T)
- Royal First Class
- Soffe Shirts