Ask Tug: The quest for the Towncraft Undershirts begins

October 3, 2008 | By | 182 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…..now 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?

towncraft-original-vintage-50-50-v-neck-undershirt

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. Looking for undershirt or men's shapewear information? You'll find it here on my site - guaranteed! You can also find me on

Comments (182)

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  1. Taylor says:

    I stumbled upon this website by searching for towncraft shirts. I have both the 50/50 and the 60/40. Ive had mine for about 18 years or more I bought my shirts sometime while in high-school, I am 33 years old and graduated in ’99. I am still wearing the same TC undershirts. I will not wear anything else my family buys me for Christmas or birthdays and have refused any alternatives because they don’t measure up! Its just funny to me that my 60/40s have lasted this long and I need more of them because they are just now starting to show their age. These shirts have outlasted my memory.

    I am astounded that JCP stopped making these shirts. The 60/40′s are more durable than the 50/50 blend but no other undershirt that JCP or Dillards sells can even come close. These are wonderful shirts, comfortable enough to wear under a regular tee shirt, comfortable to sleep in and comfortable enough to lounge around in. I find it hard to believe a shirt like the original tc are so sparse.

    Any way, I remember seeing a pesky ad on my facebook page for Mack Weldon, they have a 47.5/47.5 long staple cotton modal to a 5% lycra blended undershirt. I have no idea how comfortable it is but the search continues. I am uncertain of a single undershirt costing $32. It is just asinine. Even a pack of two shirts for $30 is ridiculous. I’m not made of money! I miss the 3 pack for $18 TownCraft, what a steal!

    Any way, I havent found another shirt close to this and its been sad to watch my shirts degrade little by little knowing there are no more out there like it. The search continues, I was just at JCP and am disappointed. I have already been down that road with stafford, hanes, whatever else there is to buy in a store just isnt the same. They feel like cardboard compared to TC.

  2. Mark says:

    So whats the story? Has Ribbed tee found an alternative or at least optimized their existing weave???

    Mark
    Virginia

    • heya mark! thanks for stopping by and posting your comment/question!

      word on the street is that the company did a few rounds of prototyping and consumer testing and wound up introducing an improved retro 50/50 fabric starting around june.

      if you want more specific details, my recommendation would be to contact ribbedtee and ask the company to provide additional details and find out if it’s been deployed across all of the line.

  3. Mitch says:

    I too have been in search for the towncraft…nothing compares too them of course….It doesn’t bother me to say this at all …that JC Penny must have a idiot for it’s CEO….Yes that made me feel better. LOL.

    • heya mitch — have you tried out the american apparel 50/50, bdg 50/50 from urban outfitters, or the retro fit 50/50 from ribbedtee?

      they are all fairly similar to the early generation towncraft 50/50.

    • oh, and yes – i agree. it wasn’t the smartest move by jcp to sunset that legacy line.

      of course they’ll recommend their newer stafford brand undershirts, but the 60/40 blend stafford is really heavy and not at all like the super lightweight 50/50 towncraft of yester-year.

    • Pat J says:

      I looked and nothing compares to the Towncraft brand I resorted to Dickies poly cotton blend from sears for my husband. JCP is too far away from where I live in BK NYC.

  4. Doug Powell says:

    I’m on a vacation trip right now, but took a moment to check on what had happened to my favorite Towncraft undershirts from Penny’s, and found out that I was not alone. I’ll be following through on this more when I’ve returned home. In the meantime, I’ve got a burning question. Has anyone gotten an answer from somebody at Penny’s as to what possessed them to discontinue a highly popular, and I would assume, profitable product? Further, has anyone asked when they might regain their senses, and restore the original Towncraft undershirts back into their stores again? There’s an old saying, “don’t fix something that’s not broken”, and in this specific case, why did they replace a popular and profitable product with, in my opinion, an obviously unpopular and inferior product? However, realizing that anyone and any company can make a mistake, I would hope that they would “see the light” and get the original Towncraft undershirts back in their stores. Otherwise, I wish they would give another company permission to manufacture and put them back on the market. I’ll be watching for some response to my comments.

    • heya doug, thanks for stopping by my site and posting a comment — especially when you’re on vacation! that’s just totally awesome.

      over the years, i’ve had a handful of email exchanges with the folks over at jcp, and when i’ve asked them about the vintage towncraft items, they simply refer me to the new stafford products even though we (and they) know are not the same. in checking through some of the emails from back 3 years ago, my contact there did say they still got requests for them, but didn’t say much more.

      what’s unfortunate is that i never got more clarity than that. i do think they would reach out to me if they had any plans to bring them back, but alas i have not heard from my good friends at jcp recently, with exception to a quick email exchange in january about something completely unrelated. very nice people over there!

      i don’t think they need to give any other company permission to make those vintage 50/50 undershirts, unless of course the company wanted to release them under the former towncraft brand name. since that trademark is still in force and currently owned by jcpenney, i would highly doubt that jcp will give permission to any other company to use the trademark, unless of course that company paid some sort of licensing fee to do so.

      that said, if you scroll through the comments here on this post, you’ll see that some other companies are making comparable products. none of them can use the fortrel polyester that was used in the towncraft 50/50 because fortrel doesn’t exist anymore, but at least 3 or 4 of them regularly stock a similar 50/50 or 60/40.

      if you have any other questions, please ask away. if not, enjoy your vaca buddy and please stay in touch! thanks again for stopping by!!

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