Do you have a favorite t-shirt? I don't, but I wish I did. I have a few I kinda like: one that is a super-low v-neck; another that is extra-long and fits my tall torso; a third made of the most impossibly soft, perfectly-worn cotton. But one perfect tee? It doesn't exist...yet.
Imagine if you could Frankenstein your favorite elements of those almost-perfect tees into one that met all your needs. That's the idea behind a new Kickstarter project from Houston-based label Kit.
"When we first started I thought of fit as a one-dimensional concept," says founder and designer Merin Guthrie. "But fit is not just actual fit. It's also personal preference."
Though Kit has mainly focused on higher-end wear since its founding a few years ago, customers have been asking from the very beginning for the perfect wear-everywhere T-shirt. The problem, Guthrie says? "Perfect" is subjective.
"The ideal T-shirt is the one that the wearer is going to design," she said. "But what if you let people craft their own shirt? No one else is really doing that."
Before launching the project, Kit's employees got together and compared nearly every T-shirt they owned—making a list of what they liked and didn't. The Staple Tee Kickstarter, which launched at the start of October, is more than halfway funded. If fully funded, outreach will begin in November as backers will be surveyed for what elements they'd like in a shirt. Options include everything from color and neckline to sleeve length.
Since Kit is a small company, the fundraiser lets them know how much fabric to order, which colors to stock more of (black, white, gray?) than others, and where to focus their efforts. Guthrie likens it to a pre-order. It's also a way to meet new clients.
"It allows us to tell our story a little bit and allows us to expand our customer base," Guthrie said.
Kit's ethos is all about high-quality. Lots of people buy cheap tees, Guthrie says, because what's the point of splurging if you don't love the fit? But one problem with cheap tees is that manufacturers don't use the right equipment to make them. Good knit seams require a special sewing machine. That's one reason why Kit wants to raise money ahead of time.
"Some of the simplest patterns are the most difficult to make," Guthrie said.
The T-shirts will be 100 percent made in the USA. The cotton is grown in Texas and woven in Los Angeles. And having funds up-front will allow Kit to use the correct machines to seam the shirts.
This is not the company's first Kickstarter either. Previously it had a Kickstarter page for its Lady Blouse, which ended up being a big success for the brand.
"It's a truer way to get feedback," Guthrie said of the Kickstarter model. "It's different when (customers) actually have skin in the game."
The all-or-nothing Kickstarter ends on November 2, and for $40 you can get your own Staple Tee.
"If you had asked me a year ago what products we'd be making," Guthrie said, "a T-shirt was definitely not on our list."