Despite the silence of the last month the hunt has continued, and the first quarry has been recovered. You may recall from the last part of this series that my interest centred on a Japanese brand who had their manufacturing done in China, at Japanese standard, ethical factories and quality checked to Japanese standards. That company was United Athle, part of CAB clothing, who made a huge variety of basics from tee’s of varying cuts and lengths to hoodies, sweatshirts, shorts and track pants, with an impending family break in Barcelona I decided to purchase myself a tee and a pair of shorts to test run in hot climates and report back.
First the bad, and it has nothing to do with the tee, United Athle have possibly the WORST communication of any brand it has ever been my misfortune to talk to, to date I have sent them 17 emails with requests varying from an offer to represent them in the Western market, right down to a simple “can I buy a tee shirt please?”. I have received 2 replies, and neither were particularly verbose or definitive to any of my requests, I just get the feeling that (despite proudly stating on their web site that they can be contacted in Japanese or English), they just don’t want to talk to me.
Once I recovered my bruised and battered pride I went back to more conventional product acquisition means and tracked down an eBay seller with a large variety of United Athle products at very reasonable prices, I selected a 4.7oz cotton tri blend pocket tee for which the cost including shipping was less than £10, very reasonable. The package arrived in less than 2 weeks (I should point out that the total cost was slightly over £20 including the shorts and shipping cost), they were well packaged and each individually sealed inside its own plastic bag, so far so good. For the purposes of this article I will be focussing on the tee, which I was pleasantly surprised to find really felt like a quality item, at 4.7oz it was very light, soft and exactly what I felt I needed for the 34 degree heat of the Barcelona summer. The material was, and I cannot emphasise this enough, extremely soft on a level I have not felt from a tee before, some might argue that the 4.7oz tee does not feel like a substantial item of clothing but I would say that at this weight it is exactly what you pay for, a light tee for hot weather.
The stitch pattern is consistent, the seams are tight, it isn’t loop wheeled or tube constructed but it costs less than £10 so I can get over that fairly quickly. The material has a surprising amount of character for a tee, almost heathered and slightly loosely woven it does feel very nice on, and drapes extremely well, the key component to the long term love of any tee I find. Upon arriving in Barcelona I was greeted with a day time temperature of 32 degrees on the first day, a perfect testing ground I believed so I reached for the UA tee and was not disappointed. The tee felt great in the heat, in no way restrictive or sweat inducing it was a pure joy to wear, which is why I made an elementary error, I went to the beach.
I am a pasty and pale man, in fact to use those words is perhaps understating the translucence of my complexion, I am Casper the Friendly Ghost kind of pale, not ideal in hot weather and exactly the reason that there is a snowballs chance in hell of me walking around with no shirt on in hot weather, I kept the tee on whilst on the beach. The thing about thin cotton blend tees which I didn’t realise is that they apparently offer close to zero protection against UV, which is precisely why despite the presence of my comfortable, dry and nicely fitting tee I got sun burn all over my back and shoulders. It should be pointed out here that this is an error on my part based on an assumption, I assumed that if you kept covered up with a shirt then you did not burn, this has always been the case before but no this time, I should also say that United Athle make no assertions as to the UV protection (or not) or their garments.
All in all this is a great tee, especially for the unbelievably low price. United Athle make their tee’s in 6 different weights and over the next few months I am going to slowly build up a stock of various weights an colours to cover me for all seasons. If the quality level of the other weights of tees matches the one I have then I think that I am at the beginning of a beautiful relationship with these cheap and basic tee’s, just so long as I remember to put some sun cream on before hitting the beach.