Guide to Fabric Types and Best Materials for Merch Items

They say that fashion can bring out the inner personality of the wearer. Thus, wearing something that makes you feel confident is something you should prioritise. If you’re planning to include some clothing items in your merch package for employees, you must ensure that it is excellent and comfy.

One of the criteria for ensuring the comfort of clothing materials relies on the fabric used. Items such as merch T-shirts, merch hoodies, and merch sweaters should be made of excellent fabric and exceptional sustainable materials. At this point, you might be pondering the beautiful fabrics we were discussing. Well, today might be your perfect day, learn more about fabric types as you continue reading this article.

Best merch materials

Main Fabric Types for Merch Items

Fabrics are mainly classified as either synthetic or natural, depending on the type of fibres it is made of. Common examples of fabric materials used for different kinds of merch are cotton, polyester, elastane, fleece, acrylic fabric, nylon, and leather. This might sound overwhelming, but we will help you by carefully introducing each fabric type, their common usage, and the pros and cons.

1. Cotton

Cotton refers to a part of the cotton plant which grows in a boll or protective case. It is spun into yarn to create a soft and durable fabric. Cotton fibre is made of cellulose, a polymer made of glucose. Therefore cotton is a natural fibre from the plant kingdom.

It is mainly used for clothing, bed sheets, towels, underwear, and even denim. Yes, most denim is made from cotton. It’s also used to create a variety of woven fabrics, including canvas, damask, flannel, denim, and more.

Cotton can control moisture. It is naturally absorbent that helps you dry naturally. It can also insulate and is known for being hypoallergenic, giving you a comfy feel and texture. Though very comfy, the downside of cotton is that it is very absorbent and takes a long time to dry, making its colour fade under the sun.

2. Polyester

Unlike cotton, polyester is a type of synthetic fibre. It is technically plastic and is derived from petroleum. Not to mention that it’s one of the world's most popular textiles.

This type of fabric is ideal for clothing. Often used in pants, shirts, suits, bedsheets, and outer garments because of the wrinkle-resistant property that helps to retain its shape. That means polyester is an ideal fabric for comfy T-shirts and fashionable tops..

Moreover, its stain resistance and durability are at their finest. Polyester is typically blended with other natural fabrics to increase comfort and reduce creasing. This also dries quickly because it's very lightweight. It doesn’t wear down quickly. Therefore, it is durable and ideal for everyday wear. Similar to other fabrics, it also has its negative side. It doesn't stretch nor absorb sweat that much. Therefore, it’s not ideal for wearing during hot weather seasons

Cotton. Best merch materials

3. Elastane

Elastane is another synthetic fibre. Some also called it Lycra which is known for its exceptional elasticity. Yes, even stronger than rubber. It is used for intimate wear, swimwear, activewear and sportswear.

The smooth spandex fibres absorb little moisture and will dry again quickly. Elastane does not wrinkle if washed and dried correctly. Best to avoid ironing except if the garment level advises you to do so. Nevertheless, use the lowest possible heat on this material, as heat can damage the fabric material's elasticity and structure. Since it is spandex, it guarantees durability, making it resistant to wear and tear.

Elastane sticks to your body, making it sweat the usual, which can develop an unpleasant odour more quickly than natural fibres. Also, it is sensitive to heat and is non-absorbent to water and oil. Lastly, since elastane is a novelty material with highly desirable quality, then you can expect that this fabric is relatively more expensive than others

4. Fleece

Whenever you hear fleece, you might probably think about sheep’s fur. Unfortunately, you’re mistaken since this cosy fabric is made from polyester. Yup! It’s a synthetic insulating fabric made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or other synthetic fibres.

It is versatile and can be used for jackets, shirts, pullovers, sweaters, hoodies, and of course, the fleece scarf. Fleece, despite its furry, is a hot yet lightweight winter option. It is also water resistant and can withstand a slight drizzle making sure you're warm and comfy during low temperatures. Because of its material origin, it tends to shed moisture so quickly, making you want to wear it daily during winter. Unfortunately, it is also prone to attracting dust or pet hair due to high amounts of static electricity. 

5. Acrylic fabric

Acrylic Fabric is best described as a fabric woven or knitted with acrylic yarns. It is also a synthetic polymer fibre from acrylonitrile derived from petroleum or coal-based chemicals. It’s commonly used in sweaters, boot linings, and hand gloves.

Moreso, acrylic is the least breathable fabric in the world, making it perfect for retaining heat. However, acrylic fibre is not limited to clothing. You might also find it on a few products you least expect, like wigs, hair extensions, area rugs, and hair brushes.

Acrylic fibre is also an excellent outdoor upholstery fabric since it has a wool-like texture. You can also ensure that the clothing colour will retain for a long time. However, many are complaining that this fabric has poor insulation. It is also hard to maintain since you need to hand wash it or have it dry cleaned.

Nylon. Best merch materials

6. Nylon

Nylon is a fabric from the family of synthetic polymers commonly used for various apparel and consumer goods. Surprisingly, you might be unaware that you are living your entire life with this synthetic material by your side. You might not notice that some merch you’ve come across has nylon. Merch like leotards, jerseys, swimsuits, and other sportswear. Also, you might not see, but you could be walking across a nylon carpet or using a nylon toothbrush and umbrella.

Nylon has excellent strength and abrasion resistance, allowing it to stand up in any sporting activity. This fabric can stretch to its limits without losing its shape. It also has good sunlight resistance making it another good choice for activewear during the daytime. However, be mindful that nylon can easily absorb water which causes swelling and rapid deterioration.

7. Leather

Leather is from animal skin and hides that undergo chemical treatment of tanning for preservation, making it suitable for clothing, footwear, a leather laptop bag, wallet, furniture, recycled leather notebook, or even sports equipment. Therefore, it's all-natural. However, there is also synthetic leather which is made with synthetic components like PU, nylon, and PVC.

Leather is a strong, durable, and flexible material that can last decades. It can be stiff at first, but the material becomes more flexible and relaxed as time passes. If you want long-lasting merch, this fabric type is indeed your match. But also bear in mind that its uncompromising quality may deteriorate and suffer if not adequately cared for and protected. Another downside of leather is its sensitivity to weather conditions. It’s warmer to use in summer and freezing during winter.

Best materials for merch items

Other Materials for Merch Items

At this point, you might already be satisfied with the fabric types provided above. But wait, there’s still more. These materials might not be as popular as above, but we can assure you that these have exceptional quality and are known for their sustainability.

8. Cork

Simply put, cork is all-natural. It is made from the bark of either Quercus suber or the Cork oak tree. As a nature-lover, you might wonder if getting cork requires chopping down hundreds of trees. Worry no more. Thanks to cork cultivation, you can harvest cork–bark without damaging the whole tree.

Typically, cork material is used for decorative items or as a protective backing on novelty items on cork coasters, cork keychains, trivets, cork stoppers, wine stoppers, cork desk pad, cork leather, cork notebook, even on tumbler heat holders and more. Cork gives off a natural vintage vibe to your merchandise, making it a warm present to receive.

Cork is elastic, strong, resistant to air, and can absorb vibration. However, due to its soft structure, cork is vulnerable to damage. Yes, it’s prone to various kinds of damage, such as scratches, exposure to light, and contact with sharp objects.

Best materials for merch products

9. rPET

rPET is a short term for recycled polyethylene terephthalate. Made from recycled PET that can come from either post-consumer or post-industrial sources. It is eco-friendly, and it can be fully recycled.

rPET can be used in many ways, including rPET umbrellas, fabric for T-shirts, polyester carpet fibres, athletic shoes, rPET Christmas balls, long underwear, fiberfill for winter coats, sleeping bags, sweaters, rPET sports bottles, luggage, and even Automotive parts.

This material is so versatile that it can be used for food and non-food products. rPET products are also strong and can not be quickly shattered. That’s why some use it for tote bags and bottle products. The only drawback for rPET is its expensive costs since the demand is high and the supply is low.

10. Bamboo

Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants globally, capable of growing up to 4 feet per day. That's why it’s considered a highly sustainable resource for merch. It's naturally abundant, making it available for fabric production.

Bamboo can be used to create different merchandise such as furniture, fuel, clothing, decor, baby products, cutlery, jewellery, food, and even a phone holder wireless charger. It can also be used for clothing, socks, shirts, leggings, boxer shorts, and your favourite pyjamas.

Bamboo fabric is all-natural and hypoallergenic, giving you comfort from head to toe. Moreso, it’s 40% more absorbent than cotton. It is also breathable, making it ideal for summer and winter. On another note, natural bamboo fabric is much more expensive than other materials, including cotton. It can also rapidly deteriorate in humid areas.

Best Materials for Merch Items

Choosing the suitable fabric and material for your merchandise can be mind-boggling sometimes. Almost every item on the list is exceptional and can be utilised for your company merch pack. Though you have plenty of options, still it’s best to go back to promoting sustainability in your industry. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to use eco–friendly materials such as cork, rPET, and bamboo.

If you’re still thinking about which products with excellent fabric types and materials to include in your merch pack, check out our catalogue. We are committed to promoting quality and eco-friendly merchandise that could impact sustainability in society.