Review: We Tried Fresh Clean Threads’ Affordable Tees

Exceptional fit highlights the DTC brand's priced-right tees

August 29, 2022 12:07 pm
a model in a blue Fresh Clean Threads Tee resting and on his phone on a marble countertop
Fresh Clean Threads

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Nothing makes me angrier than when someone discounts the plain crewneck tee. So often, I’ll hear something along the lines of “it’s just a tee shirt!” in conversation, an infuriating statement that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

As someone who spends a lot of time thinking about, looking at and wearing clothing, I take real pride in recognizing that, at its best, the common crewneck is the single most important item of clothing any gent could possibly own.

Why? Because they’re supremely simple, ultra-versatile, and a temple of universal sex appeal. Name a guy who doesn’t look good in a well-fitting white tee. I’ll wait. This conclusion wasn’t reached in a vacuum. Ever heard of James Dean? Maybe Brad Pitt, or more recently, Shawn Mendes, rings a bell?

Unfortunately, it’s rare that a tee meets these lofty superstar standards. All too often, they’re too big or too small, cut obnoxiously wide or impossibly skinny; itchy and uncomfortable and just plain wrong.

Enter Fresh Clean Threads, the latest label to make a stir in the space. Founded in 2015, the San Diego-based DTC brand and tee subscription service rocketed to notoriety first via social media, with a following tallying in the hundreds of thousands and a growing pack of guys impressed by their cost-to-quality tops. They’re billed as affordable, comfortable, and good-looking — everything a crewneck should be.

“T-shirts are far more important to a guy’s day-to-day than people give them credit for,” founder Matthew Parvis said in an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with. “Even before the pandemic, T-shirts were a staple, whether it’s under a suit and tie or you’re just wearing them with nice jeans or slacks. They’re incredibly versatile.”

Fresh Clean Threads aren’t proposing a revolutionary new product or gimmicky new business model — instead, they’re dedicated to tackling the brass tacks of the regular old tee. Fit, fabric and sustainability are all top of mind for the retailer, as is delivering products at a reasonable price. (Again, a sentiment I can fully get behind; down with $100 tees!)

a cropped photo of a model in a grey Fresh Clean Threads Crewneck Tee on a grey background
Fresh Clean Threads

A Simple, Sustainable Design

Fresh Clean Threads offerings revolve around the idea that there should be a tee for everyone, with an expanded size range (S-4XL), a variety of cuts that should fit virtually any guy, and a bevy of colors to choose from: their bread-and-butter Crew Neck comes in a whopping 14 shades. Utilizing a patented, proprietary StratuSoft weave, the cotton-poly shirts are lightweight, breathable and cloud-like to the touch.

OF course, FCT doesn’t just do the classic crewneck; the brand dabbles in henleys, V-necks and long-sleeves, and after a rebranding from Fresh Clean Tees to Fresh Clean Threads earlier this year, are most certainly looking to bring their economical offerings to a variety of apparel. They also offer 5-packs and subscription services at a discount, as well as free exchanges.

Refreshingly, the brand’s commitment to ethical sustainability is as apparent as its drive to make an affordable, easy tee. FCT offers a transparent look at its manufacturing process, boasting a Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) certification. Likewise, the San Deigo brand utilizes 100% recyclable packaging and donates a percentage of every purchase to the clean-ocean Surfrider Foundation.

a model in a light blue Fresh Clean Threads shirt outside
Fresh Clean Threads

Field-Testing Fresh Clean Thread’s Tees

In the spirit of due diligence, I put FCT to the test, and I am genuinely impressed. Having procured two styles — Slim-Fit Crew ($26) and classic Crew Neck ($19) — I was instantly enamored on first wear, and have been more or less living in them since. The breathable comfort of the StratuSoft tech is a winner, especially in summer’s brutal heat, and there’s discernable difference in fit, especially around the shoulder and arms, when compared to other tees in my closet. They look great with jeans and work well under an overshirt, or even a breezy suit, if you think you can pull it off.

For now, the tees are holding strong. After two weeks of wear, there was no noticeable wear or color fading, an appreciated testament to the brand’s quality…especially for a top priced at $20. Should they start to fray, it’d happily put in for a refreshed 5-pack; hell, I might even take out a subscription.

Two items of note; the trim, fitted cut of FCT’s crewnecks, especially the Slim-Fit Crew, while flattering, mean a snugger fit. At 5’9″ and 140 lbs., I opted for the Slim-Fit Crew in a medium, a size up from my standard small, and was exceptional pleased with the fit. For anyone wary of a tighter fit, stick to the classic Crew Neck or size up in the Slim-Fit offerings, and generally pay attention to the helpful sizing charts and info provided.

Likewise, I will note that the crew styles I tried were on the thinner side; perfect for the sweltering NYC summer, yes, but for those searching for a beefy or hefty cotton top, keep looking.

Is It For You?

If you’re looking for a fitted, well-wearing top at a practical price point, it’s hard to go wrong with Fresh Clean Threads. Their subscription service makes sense for those who work hard and play harder, and although their slighted-trim shape isn’t for everyone, it offers the majority of customers a quality option without breaking your wallet. Try Fresh Clean Threads today, here or at the button below.

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