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Is This the Greatest T-Shirt of All Time?

Another day, another premium basics brand enters the fray, promising softer and stronger tees.

Last Shirt on Earth debuted its Kickstarter campaign Tuesday, seeking $40,000 in funds to make the perfect premium tee at an affordable price. But Americans already spend $20 billion a year on T-shirts, according to NPD Group, so why should shoppers consider this newbie?

“It’s made in good old U.S. of A, from organic Supima cotton which is the softest and strongest cotton on earth,” proclaimed Will Spero, chief executive officer of Last Shirt on Earth—and a self-described serial entrepreneur—appearing in a tongue-in-cheek video on the company’s Kickstarter page.

The reason Spero decided to try his hand at T-shirt making is simple—he wanted to see if he could do it better.

“I’m way more into T-shirts than other people,” he said in a phone interview with Sourcing Journal. “I love T-shirts, but it’s hard to find a premium T-shirt that’s any good. After a few washes they get scratchy.”

So he set out to reengineer the basic from the ground up and Last Shirt on Earth was born. He chose a high thread-count Supima cotton, grown organically in the USA, because of its ability to withstand both tension and flex abrasion. It’s also 25 percent to 50 percent less likely to pill after 50 cycles of washing and drying than other types of cotton.

Instead of using a single layer of cotton, causing the tee to be rough on one side and smooth on the other, Spero wove together two pieces of Supima cotton so the shirt is soft on both sides and resists stretching out or shrinking.

Also key to comfort: overlock side seams, reinforced shoulders and no neck labels. Rather than resorting to itchy tags, Last Shirt on Earth prints its care instructions directly onto the T-shirt. And while non-organic dyes are part of the production process, the color of the fiber is changed on a molecular level, meaning it won’t wash out or bleed.

Last Shirt on Earth has spent the last eight months testing its production process, involving several U.S. suppliers rather than a single vertically-integrated facility to keep costs down. The estimated retail price of Spero’s American-made T-shirts is $42 a pop, but they’re available for $30 through the Kickstarter campaign—that’s less than half the price of a men’s plain white tee by Rag & Bone at Barneys New York.