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How American Apparel’s 2001 & 1301 Changed the Game for Artists & Streetwear

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How American Apparel’s 2001 & 1301 Changed the Game for Artists & Streetwear

ver the years, American Apparel® has made waves in both the fashion and promo wearables industries by introducing fashion-forward premium t-shirts to wholesale marketplace. The brand’s iconic 2001 and 1301 t-shirt styles especially rocked the fashion scene, building a massive fan base among streetwear brands, musicians and printers. If you don’t know the backstory behind the two styles, now’s the time to get up to speed on these beloved tees – and start pitching them to your clients.

The OG and New G of Fashion Basics

American Apparel’s now-iconic 2001 (Fine Jersey Tee) didn’t just “fit” into the apparel market – it disrupted it. By offering a premium, soft, modern-cut t-shirt that simply wasn’t available anywhere else, the apparel brand filled a huge gap in the wholesale marketplace, giving smaller designers, clothing lines and bands access to a more premium product at an affordable price point.

In photos: The 2001 Fine Jersey Tee
“The 2001’s popularity grew to the point where customers would not only order it for their businesses, but also for personal use in various colors. In essence, the 2001 became the four-minute mile breaker of the fashion industry, setting a new standard for premium, accessible fashion basics.”
- Tony Diaz, owner of Industry Printshop

What sets the 2001 apart from the many other available tees is its great fit, super-soft hand and style recognition, being one of the pioneers in its category. It’s not just about the quality of the fabric, but also the printability and unique color selection that distinguishes it from other basic tees. Moreover, the widely recognizable American Apparel brand itself adds value to the product, as a true progressive retail brand.

The 2001 Evolution

Today, we’ve watched the 2001 evolve over time to be more inclusive in fit without sacrificing its original soft combed ring-spun fabric. Now, the 2001 collection has expanded to include a CVC option, featuring many popular colorways that you'll see trending in fashion.

In photo (from left to right): The 2001 Fine Jersey Tee, 2001CVC and TR401 Triblend Track Tee

The Markets That Can’t Get Enough of the 2001

The 2001 has found its forever home in several markets, from music and entertainment to retail and boutique stores.

“Having a strong West Coast presence due to its LA heritage, people view the 2001 as a high-end garment that elevates any creation. This tee is loved for its exceptional unisex fit, color consistency, great print surface and soft feel.”
- Emma Budzisz, VP Marketing at Gildan and responsible for American Apparel

In the music industry, especially among touring bands, the 2001 has become a valuable asset and a staple of musicians’ merch selection. For years, with the 2001, bands have offered their fans a memento from the concert, as well as a high-quality, fashionable item that fans are happy to pay more for and wear for years to come.

In photo: The 2001 Fine Jersey Tee

The association with the American Apparel brand made selling merchandise easier and more profitable, proving the 2001’s effectiveness in the creative music scene and beyond.

"I remember being at the [band’s] merch booth and asking, 'Are all your shirts American Apparel?' If they said ‘yes,’ then it was an easier decision to buy any merch from them, right? So, it really made a splash on the creative music level that just trickled down and made it to where everybody wanted to use it.”
- Tony Diaz, owner of Industry Printshop

Streetwear’s Ongoing Love Affair With the 1301

Quite simply, the 1301 (Heavyweight Cotton Tee) is a symbol of authenticity in streetwear culture. Launched in the early 1980s, it served as a catalyst to many West Coast-driven skate and surf brands.

In photo (from left to right): The 1301 Heavyweight Cotton Tee and 1304 Heavyweight Cotton Long Sleeve Tee
“The 1301 served as a platform for emerging artists and creatives in the hip-hop and skateboard communities. It's the go-to brand for mainstream skateboard companies and renowned hip-hop artists.”
- Emma Budzisz, VP Marketing at Gildan and responsible for American Apparel

It stands out as a distinctive piece with its oversized fit, non-topstitched collar, and a luxurious, crisp cotton feel. Setting itself apart from other heritage t-shirt brands, this iconic style was among the pioneers in the printwear channel to introduce a tearaway label for easy customization.

The 1301 Evolution

Widely recognized for its weight, impeccable fit, and deep colors — particularly the rich black — it also boasts a retail ready, non-topstitched collar, adding to its premium appeal. Recently, the brand added a garment-dyed 1301GD (Garment-Dyed Heavyweight Cotton Tee) style option for a worn-in, vintage feel.

In photos: The 1301GD Garment-Dyed Heavyweight Cotton Tee
“The 1301 was the garment that was the most accessible to people starting from scratch. Going back to music and culture, the 1301 was extremely prevalent in the hip-hop community. It had the right fit, the right heaviness to it and the right price point.”
- Tony Diaz, owner of Industry Printshop

Ideal Clients Who’ll Love the 1301

The resurgence of the 1301 can be attributed to the current trend of heavy, oversized and crisp cotton tees.

“As streetwear brands gravitate toward relaxed fits and heavier fabrics, the 1301 sits right in their wheelhouse. The shirt’s comeback is also linked to the revival of ’90s trends, when Alstyle®, as a staple brand of that era, played a significant role.”
- Emma Budzisz, VP Marketing at Gildan and responsible for American Apparel

Perfect for West Coast startup brands seeking a “classic icon” shirt, this tee is also popular in the workwear sector due to its durability and comfort. The 1301's versatility extends to being the ideal canvas for traditional screen printing, embroidery, appliqué, direct-to-garment printing and direct-to-film transfers. Streetwear brands and music merchandisers are also ideal clients for the 1301.

The newly added garment dye version with a tearaway label – 1301GD – is expected to be a hit in these key markets as well.

Start Pitching the 2001 and 1301 Today

Both the 2001 and 1301 are iconic shirts with significant market value.

“These classic styles carry the American Apparel name, which brings instant brand recognition. Their relaxed fit also aligns perfectly with today’s lifestyle preferences.”
- Emma Budzisz, VP Marketing at Gildan and responsible for American Apparel

The 2001 stands out for its superior fit, feel, and printability in the 30-singles category. Made with combed ring-spun U.S. cotton, it’s sold at one of its most competitive price points ever.

For distributors and print shops catering to the streetwear demographic, the 1301 is the most authentic shirt for that look and feel. Both styles, available at S&S Activewear, offer a more universal cut, accommodating a wide range of body types, making them ideal for large orders across various sizes.

Dec 31, 2023