From its humble beginnings back in 2008, undershirt and underwear maker (and regular UndershirtGuy.com advertiser) Tommy John has done pretty well for itself.
A little over a year after their launch, they branched out into premium retailers Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. Since then they have subsequently improved their lines and also have ventured into performance/wicking under-gear, some outerwear, and also lightweight thermals. Based on their impressive track record, I have every expectation of seeing more new and exciting products coming from them in the years to come.
Recently, I received word from Tommy John announcing the immediate availability of their Cool Cotton Undershirt & Underwear Collection. When I asked for some specifics on the technology used in the new collection, with some additional questions about how cotton could have cooling technology integrated into it, I got these specifics from Founder Tom Patterson:
Our Cool Cotton is certified by an independent leading laboratory as an approved moisture management fabric. Our manufacturer uses a patented formula using Nano technology in both the fabric knitting stage and the finishing stages (like most, it is not inherent properties in the yarns).
It does have a life cycle and has been tested and continues to perform for 30 washes without any lessening of the properties – (it has been tested). I am wearing samples that are on wash 41 (yes, I keep track) and they perform amazingly well. I find that guys do laundry once every week or 2 so that would put that to 6 months to a year or more of use, depending on how many undergarments you have in the rotation.
To apply this fabric technology to a fabric that is featherlight like ours took about 18 months from start to finish. The weight is what I believe to be the lightest cotton stretch undershirt on the market but am guessing you could verify that.
Cooling Technology in Cotton?
It may sound a little surprising, but incorporating cooling “technology” into cotton is not new. A great example of something similar, although not used in TJ’s Cool Cotton Collection, is Cotton Inc’s TransDRY technology. To get a better understanding of how stuff like this works, I reached out to an expert at Cotton Inc., and a second person who’s a regular contributor here and works at a fabric manufacturing company in China:
Cotton Inc. Expert
TransDRY is a moisture-wicking technology which can change performance depending on the fabric construction. The fabric can be designed to either move the moisture to the outside of the fabric (reduces chafing, does not cling to the skin and keeps the wearer dry and comfortable), or spread the moisture out over a great surface area and dry 50% quicker than regular cotton.
We recently conducted a study that showed that people wearing TransDRY t-shirts stay two degrees cooler than those who had a regular cotton t-shirt on, so it is much more comfortable to wear when the wearer is warm.
I am not sure which technology Tommy John is using but if it works well on cotton, then we are all for it!
From “Q” – works at fabric manufacturer in China
the fabric can provide a cooling capability because:
- With quick dry function, it can absorb the hot or warm vapour from body. Technology (Apply quick dry chemical during dyeing and setting process)
- With smooth and silky hand feel, it can transfer heat rapidly. (Using Pima Cotton which is long staple fiber and apply bio-polishing finishing)
- Light weight fabric can feel more cooling than heavy weight fabric. (Using yarn count at 80s or 100s plus 30D or 20D spandex, fabric weight should be approx. 120g/m2)
So boiling it down, fabric smoothness, weight, as well as moisture-movement technology all play a hand at keeping the wearer cooler. I’ll talk about the moisture movement technology aspect more in a separate upcoming article, since it requires other environment variables (sweat/air flow) to be present.
Cool Cotton Details
- Fabric: 86% Pima Cotton, 14% Spandex
- Super lightweight and smart fabric technology that uses a special cooling process to increase the absorption capacity of the fabric. Moisture is then transferred to the surface of the fabric where it easily and rapidly evaporates
- Non-pilling feature ensures garments retain softness and smoothness with NO PILLING; wash after wash
Cool Cotton Undershirts
- Styles: Crew, Deep V-Neck, High V-Neck, Tank Top
- Colors: White, Black, Tan
- Price: $40, Tank Top $35
- Sizes: S-2XL
- Made in Egypt
Cool Cotton Underwear
- Styles: Briefs (Coming Soon), Trunk, Boxer Brief
- Colors: White, Black, Grey
- Price: $27, $29, $31
- Sizes: S-2XL
- Made in Egypt
Cool Cotton Undershirts & Underwear: My Initial Thoughts
Cool Cotton Undershirt (Deep V-Neck, Medium)
- Super deep v-neck (10″ front drop)! I have to say that when I first put it on, I initially laughed at the fact the the tip of the V-Neck came all the way down to about the same level of my nipples. But in their defense, the Deep V from TJ is designed this way on purpose and it’s probably the only v-neck undershirt I own that is not visible when I have a full two buttons unbuttoned on my outer shirt (which I do only occasionally after I’ve done some manscaping)
- Super long length. This medium sized undershirt measures a respectable 29″ from HPS to bottom, but do to the amount of stretch provided with the 14% Spandex content, this guy can easily stretch to 34″-35″ long, which puts the bottom of the undershirt on me around my upper thigh. There’s no damn way this undershirt is coming untucked due to it’s length and hip hugging fit
- Fit. The cut of this undershirt is identical to the TJ Second Skin line, and as such, the overall fit is pretty darn good. If I were to make any critique, it would be that maybe the shoulders of the undershirt are a hair wide on my standard frame.
- Feel. The fabric is lightweight, smooth, and feels pretty silky on the skin.
- Coolness. This is among one of the lightest/thinnest undershirts I have tried, and because of that you can expect that it is cool-wearing. That said, I can’t say that I was more cool than when I wear other light weight undershirts. Also, there was one circumstance when I was in a warmer environment (a bar) and I felt a hair on the warm side. No more warm than I would be wearing other lighter weight undershirts, but I was hoping and kind of expecting that this undershirt would leave me feeling cooler.
Cool Cotton Underwear (Boxer Brief, Large)
- Leg length. From top of waistband to bottom of leg, these large-sized boxer briefs run about 14.5″. With it’s stretch, the leg bottom/opening comes to about mid, upper-lower thigh on me. Since I’m more used to shorter leg lengths, I initially wasn’t sure if I’d like the longer length, but after some wearings, I can say I do like the longer legs
- Fit. Probably one of the best fitting pair of underwear I now own. The key to the near-perfect fit is a combination of the light stretch fabric, and forgiving waistband. I have to say I am mostly frustrated with underwear because of how they fit in the waistband. They’re either too tight, making my love handles look worse then they already are, they roll, or they get all “bacony”. The waistband on the TJ Cool Cotton underwear is so far my favorite waistband out of all my existing underwear (with second in line being my nearly destroyed Evolve boxer briefs)
- Feel. Super nice and silky on the skin. They just feel great to wear. These are definitely going into my underwear drawer
- Quick Draw Fly. Functional, but I don’t know if this feature is all that important to me. The strange irony here is that the TJ undershirts are made long and stretch well beyond the opening of the Quick Draw Fly. So, you have to pull your undershirt up just to gain access to your privates. Now, this would be true with any longer cut undershirt, so I’m not knocking the underwear or the undershirts. It’s merely an observation.
At $40 per Cool Cotton undershirt, this is not an inexpensive product. But compared to other higher-end undershirts like Zimmerli and Hanro, I’d say that you’d get a much better undershirt wearing experience in a $40 Tommy John Undershirt compared to any Zimmerli or Hanro undershirt I’ve ever tried. If you’re in that market price point, you won’t be disappointed buying a TJ.
As for the Cool Cotton underwear, because it’s been so hard for me to find good fitting underwear, I’d say the $31 investment in these near perfect fitting boxer briefs is well worth it. Until I find a better fitting pair, I’m going to highly recommend these underwear to anyone who asks.