Entrepreneurs like Mike Schwarz, CEO of men’s undershirt and underwear retailer RibbedTee, are giving men a good reason to reexamine their underwear drawer. This review of RibbedTee’s made-in-America undershirts and boxer-briefs, which are crafted from luxury fibers including Supima Cotton and Tencel, is based on my experience over more than 5 years with the brand.
Undershirts and underwear are usually an afterthought. You probably are loyal to a favorite brand without really remembering why, and without having evaluated alternatives in recent memory. That was certainly the case for me way back in 2014 when Mike approached me about reviewing RibbedTee’s signature undershirt.
More than five years later, RibbedTee has matured as a brand and expanded its product offering to include luxury Supima cotton and Tencel undershirts as well as CoolNylon performance undershirts and boxer briefs. During that time, it’s become one of Modern Fellows’ favorite menswear brands.
This article and review, originally published on July 16, 2014 and last updated on August 21, 2019, is based on my experience over more than 5 years with RibbedTee’s shirts. (As you’ll see, it’s been a great experience.) Miraculously, some of those original tee shirts that Mike shared with me when we first met are still going strong and not threadbare in the least.
Full disclosure: In 2014, RibbedTee sent over two shirts to Modern Fellows at no cost for the purposes of a review and, in 2019, shared a pair of CoolNylon boxer-briefs and a Tencel undershirt for free as well. I have also purchased several additional Supima cotton tshirts from RibbedTee.
Check out the rest of this review and then take 20% off your first purchase at RibbedTee.
RibbedTee’s goal is “to offer unique Made-in-USA products that offer the best fit, feel, and function within their price class,” Mike (pictured below) told Modern Fellows back in 2014.
“In other words, if you bought a $15 undershirt from us, we believe it would be one of the best undershirts you’ve ever worn within that price range.”
In an August 2019 interview with Modern Fellows, Mike noted that the brand has matured in many ways since 2014. RibbedTee’s product lines have expanded with the addition of:
- G3 CoolNylon Boxer Briefs;
- EVO TENCEL undershirt line, and
- Execwear CoolNylon Performance undershirts (“the undershirt that overperforms”).
All of RibbedTee’s products are still Made in the USA.
“Most importantly,” Mike added, “we’ve been able to extract the true ethos of the brand, and put that at the forefront of our brand messaging.”
RibbedTee’s goal has always been to help men look and feel their best, while educating our customers along the way, but Mike reflected that, “we didn’t always do a great job in communicating that.”
Today, he and his small team focuses on putting experience and education first versus simply just sharing the features of their products.
They also offer a “Happiness :) & Fit Guarantee” to stand behind their undershirts and boxers.
Over the years, Mike had a hand in a number of other e-commerce venture, including Deogo (a spray that gets rid of deodorant stains from shirts), Shirtless (another undershirts site), and HANDeBand.com (handgrips for mobile phones and tablets).
In addition to serving as a Partner in RibbedTee, he is the Chief Operating Officer of Askandyaboutclothes, the longstanding (and terrific) forum for men’s style and fashion.
Prior to founding RibbedTee, Mike helped define the functionality, user experience, and product marketing direction for Internet-based applications. He started his first online business in 2001 as a publisher, releasing a book his dad wrote before he passed away.
Back in 2014, Mike told me that his company is “very fortunate,” and reports that the business continued to grow each year.
Reviewing RibbedTee’s Ribbed, Supima Cotton Undershirt
My first introduction to RibbedTee was the white CoolWear Supima Cotton V-Neck undershirt, which Mike sent over (for free remember) for Modern Fellows to review. The shirt is made from 100% extra-long American-grown Supima Cotton in a lightweight 2×1 rib knit.
Back in 2014, I had some initial misgivings about wearing a textured undershirt. (Prior to trying out RibbedTee, I wore only smooth, thin cotton undershirts from Hanes.) I’m glad I tried it, because RIbbedTee’s textured undershirts were a revelation.
First of all, they’re super-comfortable. The shirts are a little stretchy, fit snugly and stay put, and the v-neck is deep enough to disappear under a dress shirt. I love the fact that the long cut doesn’t bunch or come untucked and that the shirts feature a tagless made-in-America label.
Second, the price is comparable to what you would pay at a department store for a high-end brand that is quite possibly made in China.
Third, these shirts have lasted, and lasted and lasted some more.
What is Supima Cotton?
This performance is due to RibbbedTee’s use of Supima Cotton. According to Supima: The World’s Finest Cottons,
Supima cotton is a superior type of cotton grown in the USA. It represents less than 1% of cotton grown in the world. What makes Supima unique to other cottons is the extra-long staple fiber that gives the cotton its premium properties: Strength, Softness and Color retention.
These undershirts are one of life’s small pleasures. Highly, highly recommended.
Reviewing RibbedTee’s G3 CoolNylon Boxer Briefs and EVO TENCEL undershirts
I also had a chance to review RibbedTee’s Evo Tencel undershirts and CoolNylon boxer briefs. Both are made from performance fabrics, which is one of the hot trends for 2019 and beyond, according to Robert Ordway of Capitol Hill Clothiers.
I’ve added RibbedTee’s Evo Tencel undershirt to my weekday rotation. The shirt is very silky and does what it promises to do — hug your torso. Sometimes I’ll forget I’m wearing an undershirt at all. I like it for many of the same reasons as I enjoy their Supima Cotton t-shirt so much: the longer length keeps it tucked in all day long; it’s tag-free and made-in-America; and the deep v-neck means you don’t see the undershirt peeking through your button down. That said, if I’m choosing my next undershirt, I’m going straight to RibbedTee’s Supima Cotton shirts. I prefer cotton to the shimmery, body-hugging Tencel.
What is Tencel?
Tencel is a branded name of a performance fiber known as Lyocell, which is produced by Austrian textile firm Lenzing AG. Lyocell or Tencel is a sub-type of rayon that is created by spinning dissolved bleached wood pulp. It was first commercialized in the 1970s by a firm in North Carolina.
RibbedTee’s G3 CoolNylon Men’s Boxer Brief has proven to be a great option for the gym as well as for everyday wear. I like the silky stretch fabric in the boxers more than I do in the undershirt, and its moisture wicking and absorbing characteristics make it a good choice for exercising or for wearing all day long. They’re also tag-free, which makes a big difference.
Previewing RibbedTee’s Future Plans
What’s next for RibbedTee? Mike has plans to launch a new “Monarch T-Shirt” by early fourth quarter 2019, and may launch a new variation of their G3 Boxer Briefs as well.
The company is also in the R&D stage testing out a few other products that are slated for 2020. (More information to follow.)
For now, Mike continues to focus on growing his customer base, building loyalty by providing an exceptional customer experience. He told me way back in 2014 that, “as with other up-and-coming brands, we are highly focused on offering best-in-class customer service as well as super-fast shipping.”
In our most recent interview, he shared a few key principles that drive him and his company each day in the 5 years since its founding:
- Focus on the long game.
- Persistence and patience are an entrepreneur’s best friend.
- There are 5 primary components the determine whether or not a brand will experience hyper-growth. If you don’t have any of the five, you’ll either grow organically like 99% of the other businesses, or be forced to shut down.
- A lot of [crappy] products do great, and a lot of great products [don’t perform well]. Marketing is the key driver behind any brand’s success or failure.
RibbedTee Coupons: 20% off for first time customers
RibbedTee offers a discount coupon code for 20% off most purchases for first time customers using FIRST20.
The best undershirt to wear with a dress shirt?
For my money, RibbedTee’s CoolWear Supima Cotton V-Neck is the best undershirt to wear with a dress shirt and suit. RibbedTee’s v-neck is deep enough that it won’t show under an unbuttoned collar and, surprisingly, the outline of the ribbed cotton material is not visible under a regular cotton dress shirt.
Photo credits: Feature photo and image of Mike Schwarz courtesy of RibbedTee. All other photographs are copyright Modern Fellows.
About JakeJake is passionate about exploring entrepreneurs' global journeys. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs behind the innovative brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age. Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine, and has provided analysis on international business for BBC Radio, NBC News, CNN and Time Magazine.
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