Rethinking Undershirts: A Review of GIIN’s Undershirt

Day 1: I wonder when I’m going to launder this shirt… Maybe I should wash it in the sink as I’m traveling…

I had the genuine pleasure of meeting Francis and Jennifer at the Styleforum Maker Space this year during Pitti. The two minds behind GIIN are–without a doubt–a pleasure to speak with about many things, including their products. It is genuinely a pleasure when you meet people who are passionate about their work; on account of shared interests in menswear, the satisfaction is multiplied. Speaking with them about their materials, manufacturing, the ideas that went into the design, and their brand goals, therefore, was a remarkable experience.

GIIN’s slogan is Elevated Essentials, which precisely sums up their products. Between the boutonniere (see my review here) and their undergarments, you get the sense that Frank is striving to do things differently with his products. The products have been imbued with Frank’s desire to improve and innovate, and are in many ways his attempt to elevate something as humble as an undershirt into something that transcends the norm. 

Day 2: Why not wear it again… it doesn’t smell?

Over dinner at Berberè, I recollect both of them speaking about how much waste they find in the clothing industry. The prime example for them were generic cotton undershirts, designed–more or less–to be disposable. These undershirts serve their purpose, being worn a few times, then they disappear into landfills when they no longer are in pristine condition. Following them from a commodity chain perspective, everything becomes an afterthought: the quality of the cotton; the rapid production; the cheap mistreated labor. Every aspect of what is ethical or warrants quality is ignored to streamline prices.

Instead of approaching their products as if they were disposable, GIIN chose to approach their clients with sincerity and a desire to show their products quality and refinement. I’ll provide an example of this sincerity–if you were not aware, GIIN had a giveaway and a Styleforum member won the contest but was outside of the sizes that they made. Rather than turn the winner away with an apology, they custom made the product for the client, because they felt everyone should be entitled to quality products.

As such, quality to Frank is in the details and life cycle of the object. The products that Frank is creating and has created, he won’t bring to market unless he’s more than satisfied; he tests all of his products repeatedly before they are made for the market. Each shirt he wears and washes around 100 times, in order to ensure that they maintain quality. As such, the life of wear that the shirt receives is accelerated in order to witness first hand how well the product will hold up.

Day 5: I’m surprised by how comfortable this shirt has been as a base layer under the Texas sun… I thought I would be sweating to death…

When talking to Francis, I mentioned to him that I never wear undershirts except when I’m wearing something like a turtleneck sweater. I know that there are two schools of thought concerning this: one that extra layers make you sweat more and overheating; the other that extra layers help prevent you from showing sweat stains and protect your shirt. Having lived in humid Houston, I fell into the school of thought that more layers == bad sweating. Of course, that is only true when outside, because after wandering indoors from the summer heat, you feel trapped inside an icebox.

Frank offered to change my mind by offering me a shirt and a pair of underwear to see how I liked them. He firmly believed that I would come around to his mentality after I would have tried his engineered undergarments. Just so you understand, this was pure generosity-nothing was expected in return except that I provide my honest feedback to him. I told him sure, and decided to start wearing the garments the next day or two so I could provide him feedback immediately.

After wearing the garments for one day, I decided I would write a review, because I actually liked the garments. I will point out that–in the end–I’m still not a wearer of undershirts all that often, but I see that they are useful, and even when worn in warm/hot environments they actually serve a use to prevent odors and staining.

I provided Frank my feedback regarding the undergarments. One note is that I actually put them on inside out the first day, seeing as how there are no stitches or sewn in labels. Instead, the fabric pieces are bonded together using a high-end seamless bonding method. The raglan sleeve adds for ease of movement, and the laser cut ends without seams lie invisibly under shirts or other layers. Frank is especially proud of his boxers because they have a three-dimensional aspect to them which help support the male package, rather than squeeze it flush against the body or leg. Of course, in so doing this, there is no fly, which might be a deal breaker for some men.

For me, however, while I will sing praises about the undershirt (hence the title of review), I will note that I’m not the biggest fan of the boxers. I enjoy the support that they provide and I don’t mind the lack of a fly opening, but rather, the biggest complaint that I have is that the underwear is a low/medium rise; I personally prefer higher rise, but this is a personal preference. It isn’t as if the boxers are even unreasonably low rise: it more is just that this cut of underwear is not something that I would normally gravitate toward. However, there is a benefit here for some men: the lower rise works well with lower rise pants or jeans.

giin elevated garments undergarments shirt undershirt review

Day 8: They do not know… No one has said anything… Perhaps undershirts really do work well at preventing body odor?

Frank told me that I could reuse the undershirt when traveling by washing it in the sink/shower, then hang dry so it would be ready the next morning, stating that odors would disappear. I tried that at first, but came to realize that just by hanging the undershirt, the smells took care of themselves without added washing. As such, when I was embarking and packing for an almost two-week trip, I decided to take both the boxers and the undershirt to put it through its paces, seeing how it holds up in a wide variety of environments, temperatures, and under various garments.

In the end, I spent close to two weeks (thirteen days total) wearing the same undershirt. Of course, yes, it took on some odors over that time, but after hanging it up every night it rid itself of any scents, leaving barely perceptible–if any–noticeable odors.

Day 10: I mentioned casually in conversation to some of the others with whom I was traveling that I‘m testing an undershirt for someone, that I’ve been wearing it repeatedly… since we were in Texas, DC and Iowa…

As I’ve said before, normally I don’t wear undershirts since I sweat a lot; I find them stuffy, I find that I sweat more than normal with the extra layers, and I find them not helpful. But this might actually be not a function of the undershirt, but a function of the terrible quality cotton that goes into cheap undershirts. However, the GIIN undershirt works exceptionally well at preventing excessive sweating because of the wicking nature of the fabric (the fabric is a combination of high twist cotton, polyester and lycra). When I’m stuck in a middle seat on a plane, I normally smell terrible by the end of the flight because I’m sweating since I can’t spread out my arms. However, coming off the plane each time, I wasn’t scolded and avoided by anyone (including those I work with). I noticed changing at the hotel that my shirts did not smell bad; if anything the undershirt acted as a shield to prevent further sweating. Because the shirt is seamless and form-fitting, it is not noticeable that you are wearing an undershirt either.

Day 13: I’m coming home to my spouse… I wonder if she–with her sensitive nose–will put an end to this experiment as delusion…

At thirty dollars a piece, before trying one, I would have said the undershirts were pricey. However, after seeing what they can do, putting it through the paces, experiencing the quality and construction first hand and hearing about went into designing and manufacturing the product, I feel the price is completely fair.

For sizing, I got a small, which in reality might be a touch tight when it began being worn. I probably should have gone with a medium; however, they are fairly forgiving seeing as how the fabric has a lot of stretch. As such, order either true to size, or if you order a size smaller, you will feel just more support from the tighter fabric. I think that the tighter fit also helped improve my posture, seeing as how the tighter fit on the raglan shoulders made me more conscious of how I was sitting, and that I should sit up straighter. That, however, is another story, and for each person to decide.

Day 14: Although it doesn’t smell… Maybe I should put an end to this experiment for the sake of my wife. I also have a bunch of other clothes I can wear again…

For those that were curious-or just plain repulsed-yes, I did wash my other clothes as I was traveling. 

giin elevated garments undergarments shirt undershirt review

You can purchase GIIN undergarments on the official website.

If you have questions regarding the product, you can ask them on GIIN’s Official Thread on the forum.


This is not sponsored content. To read Styleforum’s review policy, please click here.

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e. v. Empey

e. v. Empey

Mr. Empey is the type of guy who prefers English style in the winter and Italian style in the summer. Or at least he used to. Now he's uncertain where he stands, since he travels a lot and has to visit a fair number of places where Americana workwear would be the best option. His appreciation of menswear stems more from a love of artisanship, so naturally, he also appreciates other crafts including cocktails and quality cuisine.

8 Comments

  1. Reply

    Caustic Man

    April 2, 2018

    A rare, excellent, review. This writer should be commended!

    • e. v. Empey
      Reply

      e. v. Empey

      April 3, 2018

      Thank you for reading my review. I would like to note that I’ve bought more of the shirts (full price) since I like them so much. They are really nice under sweaters and for travel.

  2. Reply

    CHIN-CHEN LEE

    April 3, 2018

    do the regular crap cotton undershirt really go badly that fast? I mean I buy < uniqulo and they still last forever, really hard to justify $30 for undershirt…

    • e. v. Empey
      Reply

      e. v. Empey

      April 3, 2018

      Hi there.

      Before these, I’ve had mixed experiences. As noted, I normally didn’t wear undershirts that much prior to trying the GIIN ones. If I did wear them, they would go under a sweater more than a shirt (unless it was truly a cold winter, for an extra base layer for insulation)…

      My undershirts that I’ve had in the past, like from Hanes or H&M or American Apparel have lasted a reasonable amount of time, but nothing exceptional. Before trying these, I too preferred my under shirts from Uniqlo which I feel are great for the price; however, having tried these from GIIN, it made me rethink that those from Uniqlo (and the other options I’ve mentioned) are more for running around the house, for more as lounge wear.

      In terms of wearing this undershirt under another shirt, the product that GIIN is putting out is far superior in design. No one notices that I’m wearing an undershirt even if wearing slimmer fitting shirts because they are form fitting. They stay tucked because they have longer bodies. I don’t feel like I’m sweating or overheating et cetera. They really made me rethink what undershirts do.

      In terms of lasting longer, I would say yes, these would last longer. I have bought two more from GIIN. I think these are great for travel, for going under slimmer fitting clothes without showing that you are wearing a base layer, and that these will last an exceedingly long time. In that sense, I feel the 30 dollars if quite reasonable especially if I can alternate between two or three and basically hand wash them in a sink and hang dry them.

      Like for myself, you have to decide what an undershirt does for you. And these work well for going underneath dress shirts, formal clothes, slimmer fitting garments and for travel. I hope this helps you.

  3. Reply

    Jennifer Lee

    April 5, 2018

    Thank you for writing this excellent, candid review of GIIN’s undershirts.

    • e. v. Empey
      Reply

      e. v. Empey

      April 6, 2018

      My pleasure. Thank you guys for making excellent products!

  4. Reply

    C.M

    April 5, 2018

    Had their early prototypes, and even back at that stage of development I had a sense these were going to be game changers.

    So glad you guys picked this up.

    • e. v. Empey
      Reply

      e. v. Empey

      April 6, 2018

      I’m really happy I got to meet the makes and that I got to try them: I wouldn’t have known that I actually like undershirts since I would have never gone out on a limb to buy something about which I had preconceived beliefs.

      After experiencing them–even buying more from them–I think that if you wear undershirts their product should be your first pick.

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