Review: Gryphony T-shirts

by Andy on February 15, 2011

gryphony t-shirt

Gryphony are the latest in an increasingly long line of companies entering into the limited-release tee market. I would call it the ‘tee a day’ market, but it would appear that people are realising just how demanding that model is and giving themselves the slightly less daunting task of releasing a new tee every few days or each week (like LTD Tee).

Gryphony are releasing a new design every 72 hours, and selling it for $14, of which $2 goes to the artist. From what I can tell, designs are both crowdsourced (a la Threadless) and picked the regular way (Gryphony contacting artists). The tee you see up there, you’ll likely never be able to buy it again (I can’t see any mention of design licensing terms on the site, so I don’t know if the design rights return to the artist after sale), as such, there’s pretty much no point in me reviewing the design, but I can tell you about the quality.

First off, the fit. In their FAQ they’ve put the question “which brand are your shirts printed on?” This is the ‘answer':

After going over 25+ different blank brands testing sizing, color selection and most important quality. We finally found what we were looking for. An extremely soft, top quality premium shirt. We know you will love it. Give us a try you won’t regret it.

That doesn’t really answer the question, it just says that they’re using a high quality blank. I’m inclined to agree with them, but when I see that question in an FAQ, I’d like to be told what blank it is they’re using, because it helps me to make a more informed choice about the fit of the shirt, more so that a size chart would. Basically, I want to know how a tee will fit compared to American Apparel, as that is the shirt that a lot of indie t-shirt companies use. I’m no 100% sure, but I think that Gryphony are probably using American Apparel blanks, or at the very least something very similar to it. The shirt feels lovely and soft, and the cut is like most of the AA tees I’ve received in the past. So if you’re ordering a shirt from Gryphony and don’t know what size to get, just pick the same as the size you’d get when buying an American Apparel t-shirt.

Next issue to contend with is the printing. There’s two sides to this, one good and one bad. The print feels really good, nice and soft, exactly what you’re after when it comes to a t-shirt, and I can’t find any issues with the print alignment on the shirt, which is impressive considering it’s a 3 colour print with quite a lot going on. The problem is with the colours, look at my photos of the real thing (which are pretty close to reality, I shot the photos in pretty decent daylight), then look at the colours on the mockup. No two ways about it, they aren’t the same and lack a certain amount of ‘pop’, for want for want of a better word. I’m not an expert in printing by any stretch of the imagination, but if I had to guess I would say that in spite of the shirt colour not being dark, they needed a white base layer or ink being put down to stop the blue shirt colour from showing through. It doesn’t ruin the shirt, but it certainly doesn’t help it. This design is the first one they ever had printed, so it’s probably that this was merely teething-problems, especially as their FAQ says they do put a white base layer on dark shirts.

The rest of the Gryphony experience is really nice, you get a printed tag inside the shirt, a (fairly) subtle logo tag on the back of the shirt on the bottom hem, your receipt comes in a card holder, and you get stickers and a button. It’s good to see them putting out a quality package when I’m sure there is temptation to just put the tee in a poly-mailer when they’re putting out 3 different designs in any week.

If they can sort out the bit of a printing issue I had I really can’t see anything wrong with Gryphony, from my dealings with them they seem to have their heads on straight and have the makings of a strong community for their site, because without a strong community a limited-realease tee label will really struggle to survive. Reading through this review it might appear to be a bit negative, that’s because it’s easy to write about the negative stuff, whereas when you do something well, and in the majority of areas they are doing things well, the work really does speak for itself and it shows that they’re striving for a quality product and an experience to match some of the larger players in the game.

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