Among the plethora of internet-based companies providing unique apparel, Threadless (www.threadless.com) and Waffo (www.waffo.com) are two outfits worth looking into, particularly if one is in quest of the ever-elusive perfect t-shirt, a certain staple in any wardrobe.
Threadless screen prints its shirts primarily on American Apparel tees. In fact, although I have not researched the matter extensively, one could easily hypothesize that the Los Angeles-based American Apparel, a company that prides itself on being sweatshop-free, and on providing superb benefits and excellent working conditions for its employees (the web site notes that the company pays "the highest wages in the garment industry"), is seemingly the primary provider of tees for internet-based screen printing companies, particularly those of the more artistic variety ( you can read the American Apparel mission statement here: http://www.americanapparel.net/mission/).
In addition to the American Apparel web site, storefronts are now in place in more than 25 states. But the best part is, while a bit pricier than non-American tees, the shirts and other items are, in my experience, well-made and able to withstand significant washing and wearing (never mind the fact that buying American Apparel means you can feel good about supporting a fair-minded and ethical company). Among my personal favorites are the basic tees and, for women, the cotton spandex jersey bandeau dress (which can be worn in a variety of ways and also doubles as a skirt), and the totally adorable boy brief, which comes in an assortment of fabrics and colors.
However, be warned that despite the site’s models, which are both exotic and "real" in the sense that their bodies are average in size, the clothing itself caters to the fit and trim. This means that you will likely need to order items at least one size larger than you normally would.
Much of the merchandise offered by American Apparel, particularly the t-shirts, screen prints beautifully, which is why companies like Threadless have found such success with the tees. For those unfamiliar with Threadless, a large part of the appeal is the ability for anyone to submit an original t-shirt design to the site. Registered users can then vote for their favorite entries, with the winning designs then manufactured by and available for purchase through Threadless. Most of the designs are eventually retired, although the more popular the tee, the greater the likelihood that it will stay in print. The shirts are first and foremost aesthetically pleasing, but additionally, many convey some sort of message through the illustration, whether it be a light and clever pun or a political or environmental commentary.
While Waffo offers far fewer designs than Threadless, with the designs themselves stemming from Waffo employees rather than customers, the t-shirts, while not American Apparel, are unbelievably soft and comfy. The designs themselves range from playful skeleton and tuxedo-printed tees to a black tee emblazoned with a large white "8 ½," an obvious nod to Fellini’s classic film of the same name.
I myself am the proud owner of the now discontinued "Fuck Heineken Drink Pabst Blue Ribbon" tee. The best part of the web site itself is the "arcade" section, which offers browsers the opportunity to play such classic video games as "Space Invaders," "Donkey Kong," and "PAC-MAN" on-site, with no downloads.
Check out www.threadless.com and www.waffo.com for killer tees and more information, such as select storefront locations.