Ask Tug: The quest for the Towncraft Undershirts begins

October 3, 2008 | By | 205 Replies More

If you’re here, you’re probably wondering where you can get some of the original Towncraft 50/50 Undershirts. The short answer is that they are no longer being made by JCPenny, but keep reading because you just might find what you’re looking for below!

2/22/11 Update:

Looking for an undershirt just like the Towncraft 50/50? Check out the Retro Fit undershirt line from RibbedTee.

Yes, these undershirts [original Towncraft] were great, but for some reason JCP decided to stop making them. From time to time you may be able to find some on eBay, where they normally sell for $20 – $35 USD.

If you want a little more background on Towncraft undershirts, read below.

— Original Article —

Holy moly!

Ever since I made mention of the TownCraft undershirts in this post, I’ve gotten about 50-75 emails from readers who are in search of these undershirts. While I don’t have any direct personal experience with wearing them, it’s pretty obvious that they must be good!

So, in true Tug form — I’ve begun the quest — the quest to find the last remaining TownCraft undershirts on earth! If there are any available, I’ll find them.

I’ve emailed friends in the undershirt company business and they have started emailing folks. I’ve emailed fabric manufacturers, JC Penny headquarters, hell — I’ve even emailed some overseas garment manufacturers in hopes of tracking them down.

I did find some on eBay recently, and the last auction for a package of TownCraft XXL undershirts ends in about 20 minutes!

Now, I could use some help from you. If you know ANYONE who knows ANYONE who can get their hands on some of the original TownCraft undershirts (not Stafford), please let me know immediately. They could be left overs from flea markets, extra unsold inventory, etc. I’m sure the folks who have emailed me would greatly appreciate it.

The other thing that would be helpful is if you used to wear TownCraft, but now have found a suitable alternative, please let us know what you found, by way of posting a comment here. I’ve got some feelers out in this area as well.

Check backhere often (or subscribe to the RSS) on our progress. I’ll post updates as I receive them!

Update #1: I sent an email out to the folks at Wellman Inc., the company that manufactures the Fortrel® polyester that was used in the TownCraft undershirt 50/50 blend. I was impressed to receive such a prompt response from the folks there. Unfortunately no luck with tracking down TownCraft, but their recommendation was to try out the Fruit of the Loom 50/50 tees which contains the same Fortrel® polyester fabric as the TownCraft. They also said that they weren’t going to be available very much longer due to a recent announcement that the company is exiting the polyester staple fiber business. I did a quick scan, and I found these Fruit of the Loom 50/50 tees on Amazon. Thanks to the folks at Wellman for the information and the quick reply!

Update #2: Mrs. Tug located a package of TownCraft v-neck medium undershirts. Details here: Towncraft Update: Towncraft Men’s V-Neck Tagless T Shirts NEW white set available on eBay

Update #3: This is kind of lame, but expected. A friend of mine received an email from the JCPenney Stafford Brand Director who said the following:

“The Towncraft underwear has been updated and improved… known as Stafford® Essentials Cotton/Poly. This underwear can be found in stores or online.”

Duh, We knew that already. My friend emailed him back with some additional questions on Monday (10/06) but has not yet heard back from him yet (nearly two days later).

Update #4: Got an email from a reader who shared the following:

JCPENNY is now selling a new line of Stafford Essential undershirts that have the same 60-40 blend that the much sought after but discontinued Towncraft blend once had. They are awesome! I’ve been searching for a long time for a replacement for the Towncraft shirts. This is it– and quite affordable. I bought 8 v-necks on sale for 25 bucks yesterday. Pass it on!

Note: This is awesome news, but I have heard from other readers that they have also tried the Stafford Essential undershirts in the past and haven’t found them to be an equivalent replacement to the original Towncraft undershirts. However, I really couldn’t say if they were talking about the former 100% cotton Towncraft undershirts or their 60/40 cotton/poly blend undershirts. So for those former 60/40 Towncraft undershirt wearers, if you have also tried the new Stafford blend, please let us know if you are as satisified with them as this reader!

Note Update (4/30/10) – Confirmed. The new Stafford 60/40 are not a suitable alternative. I now have some vintage towncraft 50/50 and stafford 60/40 in my possession and they are definitely not the same. The Towncraft 50/50 is far more comfortable.

Update #5 (12/20/09): A reader might have gotten a line on one of the original 50/50 Towncraft undershirts that is in near new condition – only washed once. Here’s a picture. Look familiar anyone?


4/30/10 Update – Check the comments below and if you’re interested in being notified when I find a suitable alternative, post a comment below and don’t forget to include your email in the field provided!

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Category: Ask Tug

About the Author ()

Tug is the world's undershirt expert. He is also one of the most knowledgeable individuals on sweat management solutions, men's shapewear, grooming, and new fabric technologies. Got a question? Visit Tug's contact page and hit him up.

Comments (205)

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  1. Dennis


    I too love the Towncraft T shirts that were 60% Combed Cotton 40% Fortrel Polyester. I am down to only one now and nothing that I have found has the soft comfortable feel of this shirt. I am heartbroken that someone made the unwise decision to discontinue these wonderful shirts!

    • Dennis


      Tug, With the amount of people looking for these shirts, maybe you should have these shirts manufactured & sold under your own brand! Looks like you have a ready market!

      • Ali


        I think the problem is with the Fortrel material. I’m under the impression that it’s no longer made. Isn’t or wasn’t Fortrel a trademark?

    • Tug says:

      you guys should scan through the commemnts (:

      there are some brands that are making something similar to the lightweight towncraft undershirts.

      but, fortrel polyester is no longer available so you won’t find something that is identical.

      for those looking for the heavier weight items, you may want to check out the 60/40 from next level apparel you can buy on amazon.

  2. Lynn


    My husband has loved these Towncraft shirts since we were engaged back in the ’90s. I bought him the Stafford ones but they are NOT at all the same as the Towncraft. His old Towncraft shirts are so thin from all the wearings and washings, but I hate to take them away for rags until I find a decent replacement for them. Le Sigh.

    Maybe we’ll try some of the ones recommended here.

    • Tug says:

      hey lynn, yeah definitely try some of the recommendations. if i come across anything else similar to the original towncraft undershirts, i’ll certainly mention it here (:

  3. Rick


    After reading the unsuccessful attempts at finding Towncraft T’s or a close substitute all I can say is “I’m glad I’m not the only one looking”. I’ve held onto a few I bought years ago hoping to buy new but Since I only wear them under dress shirts & cannot buy new Towncraft T’s anywhere I’ll have to keep these good ole boys until they’re rags!

    • Tug says:

      no doubt rick. there’s 196 comments here from people interested in those vintage towncraft tees (undershirts), and tens of thousands of people have read this article.

      so, you’re not alone.

      the closest comparable tees/undershirts i’ve come across are listed here throughout the comments. scan through them all and you’ll see some viable options.

      good luck (:

  4. Brian


    I found this site after googling towncraft 60/40 replacement.

    Towncraft 60/40s are the only undershirt I’ve ever worn, going all the way back to freshmen year of high school (1998). I’ve tried others but nothing ever compared to towncraft. Luckily, I ordered a couple packs of them in 2010 or 2011 before they stopped selling them, but those shirts are now starting to wear out and need to be replaced.

    I read through the suggestions here and it seemed like no one could agree on a suitable replacement, but I think I found one. I ordered a couple different brands of plain white t-shirts on Amazon (one was a 50/50 and the other a 60/40). While the 50/50 was “ok”, it just didn’t feel right. The 60/40 arrived last weekend and I was pleasantly surprised by it’s look and feel.

    I think it’s on par with towncraft, but maybe I’m not as picky as others.

    Anyway, here’s the link to the 60/40 I like. I’m going to order 10 more.

    • Tug says:

      heya brian,

      thanks for stopping by and posting the info on the next level apparel 60/40 t-shirt. very cool find indeed!

      i’ve always been a pretty big fan of next level apparel, but it’s mostly been available only available to “businesses” looking to buy them wholesale. i have noticed recently though that they’ve been making them available on amazon, so that’s pretty cool.

      if the 4.3oz is square yard weight, that would bring the shirt in at 145gsm (or gms), which in my opinion is ok, but it’s not really quite as light as the earlier generation towncraft 50/50 undershirts. 150gsm or higher is about t-shirt weight, so 145 isn’t too bad.

      the 60/40 towncraft came in a few different generations, the oldest being the thinnest/lightest and then getting progressively heavier throughout the years.

      i’m definitely gonna pick-up some of these and see what they’re like.

      thanks again for letting us all know (:

      • Brian


        No problem! Post an update after you try them, I’m curious how they measure up.

        On a side note, the prices have gone up since I posted that this morning. The white shirts were approximately $6.50 each + free shipping, but now they’re $8.95 + $6.99 shipping.

        I should’ve ordered the others already! (I was going to wait until after I washed it to make sure it didn’t shrink). Bummer.

  5. Tug says:

    anyone looking for an original towncraft 50/50, size large, crew neck undershirt?

    check out this listing on ebay:

  6. mitch


    LOL…..there is a large fortune to be made here …..someone get the d…. FORTREL material and cotton and get RICH…what is wrong with the jcp stock holders……..I would be furious!!!!!!!!!!!!…

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