Why it Sucked to Make a Black T-Shirt

It sucked because it was way harder and longer than I thought it would. 4 months to get it right. Granted, some of it was time spent waiting for the next test print to complete, but even so, why would it take 4 months to figure out how to make the first Blakbits shirt?

Surprisingly, the part that I thought would be the hardest was easiest, and what I thought would be easy was frustratingly difficult.

Let's start with what was simpler than I thought it would be, finding the right shirt. I'm pretty particular about the type of shirts I choose to wear. Not because I'm some fashionista perfectionist, but because I'm extremely pragmatic and analytical. T-shirts are a mainstay in my wardrobe (let's be honest, it's almost all I ever wear), and as such, the smallest of details are hard NOT to notice when a shirt goes wrong.

1. The Fit

The most obvious and most important is the fit. While preferences vary, my go-to fit is something that's somewhat tailored cut, but not gym-rat tight up top, and loosens up a little more as you go to the waist. It should drape off the shoulders, chest, and back and be long enough to make it past my belt line. Not too tight fitting, but also not so loose that you feel like your arms are inside a train tunnel. It should be form flattering for most everyone, not for one particular body type.

2. The Longevity

One of my biggest peeves of any shirt, at any price point, is when you wash it a few times, and it completely changes the fit. I understand that clothes can change, but there's something that is unjust about buying something because it is a certain way, just to have it not be that way a short time later. Blended shirts offer characteristics of cotton, but with the durability of polyester (and in the case of our heathered black shirt, rayon).

3. The Subtlety (this was hard)

The level of subtlety I had envisioned for the ink for the designs was very specific. I had assumed that this would be an open and shut case, but turns out printing shirts is a lot different than setting layer opacity in Photoshop.

The whole idea behind having black on black shirts is two fold.

Practically speaking, it helps reduce "design fatigue" over the course of ownership. If you never have qualms about putting on a plain black shirt, I wanted Blakbits designs to be so subtle, that you can put it on with the same level of thoughtlessness.

Secondly, I'm making these for the people with passions, and in my experience, people with true focus usually don't have the time or will to brag about what they do. The black on black designs is a physical manifestation of that narrative. Humble in nature. Not meant to advertise or shout, but to act as a simple acknowledgement to yourself about your craft.

That you will do what you do even if nobody is around to acknowledge it.

The problem was exacerbated by the fact that I wouldn't compromise on not using water-based inks. Water-based inks blend directly into the garment just like classic vintage shirts, and offer full breathability and movement of the original fabric. There's easier ways to achieve black on black, but it leaves a thick layer of ink to get there or a shiny sheen which I'm personally not a big fan off. These thicker inks that most blacked out shirts normally use also inhibit airflow, so your skin gets hot anywhere that ink is used.

After multiple different shirts, with multiple custom ink blends, over multiple test production runs, over 4 months, I finally arrived at what's available for you today. 

I hope you enjoy the final result.