White tee enthusiasts have no doubt heard of Velva Sheen, but for those who aren’t familiar, the USA-based brand has been serving up high-quality basics for nearly a century. They’re known for their long-lasting, good-lookin’ t-shirts, but they offer a seasonal line of products that stretches from tees to cardigans, sweatpants, and more – all made in the USA.
Velva Sheen has always rated highly amongst the ‘perfect‘ white-tee connoisseurs, and it makes sense when you consider their place in the context of American garment manufacturing, and the fact that their original standards of quality are upheld to this day.
Whether you’ve been rocking with Velva for a minute, or you’ve just stumbled across this article whilst researching the best tees on the market, this profile is here to help you get know the Cincinnati T-shirt moguls a little bit better.
Velva Sheen’s History & Philosophy
Founded in 1932 by a family in Cincinatti, Ohio, Velva Sheen manufactured sportswear for casual use as well as garments for the American Military. The brand’s use of tubular knit fabrics coupled with overlock stitched seams became the standard for basics like t-shirts during that era. Velva Sheen’s custom made and printed basics outfitted the uniforms of Marines, recreational organizations, and civilians alike.
Eventually, Velva Sheen’s popularity began to wane, and outsourcing of garment manufacturing began to cut into the brand’s place in the market. Ownership fell out of the hands of the family who started Velva Sheen when a larger association purchased the brand. The decades of Velva Sheen creating quality garments for Americans had faded from acclaim, until sometime in the 90s when the Japanese company Topwin purchased the licensing rights to the brand, effectively saving the name from obscurity. Topwin — with the help of Hide Murase — recognized Velva Sheen’s integrity for quality-made garments, their importance in the history of American heritage clothing, and wanted to ensure the brand lived on in much the same way it always has. The world continues to benefit from Japan’s undying love for the glory days of American manufacturing.
Velva Sheen Today
Now headquartered in California, Velva Sheen — under the control and creative direction of Topwin –now offers fresh new lines of products and colorways every season to around 150 stockists around the globe, and no longer makes civilian or military garments on a contract basis. They’re still offering what many consider to be the perfect tee, made to last just like they used to be, constructed with tubular knit cotton fabrics. But now, thanks to input from stockists and customers, they offer more than just core colors of plain sweats and tees- they now exhibit a range of fabrics, cuts, and styles that keeps things interesting.
Every piece of Velva’s products — from the fabrics to the threads and trims — is sourced and crafted in the U.S.A. The only exception being the Velva Sheen team in Japan supplying loopwheeled knits for some lines. This domestic sourcing of materials seems to have proved key for the brand in terms of sustainability — apart from paying their workers and staff competitive hourly wages, keeping the supply chain close to home has allowed the brand to cut down on international trading of materials that aren’t consistently and easily quality-checked, and to keep tons of inferior product from ending up in a landfill.
Iconic Velva Sheen Products
Crewneck Pac Short Sleeve T-Shirt
Velva Sheen’s iconic Pac T-Shirt comes in a 2-pack, features a slim fit, and is available in a variety of colors. It’s the vintage repro t-shirt style that many consider to be a perfect tee, and comes with all original mid-century detailing, like overlock stitch construction.
Available from Lost & Found for ~$88
The Velva Sheen Rolled Tee is the brand’s “regular” fitting vintage tee. It’s a tubular knit slubby ringspun cotton fabric with a slightly boxy fit, and is available in a slew of seasonal colors.
Available from Manready Mercantile for $50
10oz. Hooded Sweater
Available with and without a zipper, the 10oz hoodie is a solid medium-weight 100% cotton layer that incorporates the vintage styling Velva Sheen is known for with modern color ways. The hoodie is detailed with two patch pockets, ribbing at the cuffs and hem, and raglan sleeves.
Available from Lost & Found for $156