Spreadshirt Test Lab 01: How much does that t-shirt shrink – The American Apparel T-shirt

As you may have noticed from our blog, we are obsessed with t-shirts here at Spreadshirt, but obsessed in a good way. We want everyone who orders a Spreadshirt to be thrilled with their shirt and part of that is helping you order the right size. T-shirts can be tricky things – since they are mostly cotton there is a little bit of shrinking that takes place. We are always testing, washing, testing, photographing, washing, wearing shirts to make sure they are top quality. So we thought we would share some of our research with you. This is our first Test Lab post and we are starting with a look at the American Apparel men’s t-shirt.

In order to find out how good the AA shirts actually are, we went to our Spreadshirt Testlab for the very first time. Markus, a guy from production, took a bunch of black AA tees, washed time up to 20 times and checked how the lengths of the shirts, the lengths of the sleeves, the chest and the waist widths developed. We were also able to take a look at how the color and the fabric changed with washings.

Here´s the highly scientific setup:

  • Products: American Apparel Men´s shirts
  • Exact product name: AA 2001 Fine Jersey Short Sleeve T-Shirt
  • Color: black
  • Sizes: S to XXL
  • 1 regular washing machine
  • middle-class laundry detergent
  • 1 special shirt measuring tape
  • 20 washes
  • measuring-sessions after 5, 10 and 20 washes


and the findings:

Length (A)

  • in average, the shirts got 1.02 inches shorter – the XL-shirt performed best and only lost 0.39 inches
  • overall it showed that small sizes lost more in length (about 1.18 inches) than big sizes (about 0.59 inches)
  • result: it lost about -3.5%

Chest Width (B)

  • on average, the shirts got about 0.75 inches tighter
  • for the chest width as well, Ss and Ms lost more width (about 1.18 inches) than the large shirts (about 0.39 inches)
  • result: it lost about -3.7%

Waist Width (C)

  • the shirts lost about 0.87 inches waist width in average
  • the average loss for small and medium was 1.06 inches and 0.59 inches for XL and XXL
  • result: it lost about -4.0%

Sleeve Length (D)

  • the sleeve lengths were the most stable measurements in the test – in average, the shirts lost only 0.28 inches in sleeve length
  • the effect was a little stronger for the big shirts (about 0.39 inches) than it was for the smaller ones (about 0.2 inches)
  • result: it lost about -3.2%

Wrap-Up: Size

  • see an AA shirt (large) worn by Tobi (size: 6.1 feet)
  • after 0, 5, 10 and 20 washes


Changes in Color and Fabric after Washing:





  • saturation gets a little lower
  • fabric gets a little linty


When it comes to shrinking, the AA shirts couldn´t totally satisfy my expectations. Especially when buying smaller sizes – depending on how one wants the shirts to fit – one should think about going for a larger shirt as the shirts come relatively fitted anyway.

However, what I found to be very positive is that the shirts overall shape stays stable. While you find other shirts to look like “As” or “Us” (the bottom and the neck often stretch out) after several washes, the AA keeps looking like a “T”. Also the collar – generally an Achilles heel of blank shirts, doesn´t lose shape.

The intensity of the black gets a little lower which I guess is a very common effect which could maybe be reduced by using better washing powder.

5 comments Write a comment

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  4. The average person in the united states wears a xxl me for example I am tall so with shrinking i usually get a xxxl only problem is I have yet to see a shirt that is offered in that size.

    I am glad to see though that you are testing so we can actually know the after quality without having to do this all ourselves this is what makes you guys good 🙂

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