A little bit ago, I received a request from Canadian brand S2S Nation to review their product. They're a new-ish contest site with a couple differences from the rest of the pack. For starters, you vote on three criteria, perhaps the most important three: Quality, Creativity, and Likelihood of Purchase. This eliminates the questions most people have to ask when voting on a design: does my vote mean I want to buy this, or just that I think it's a creative piece? This is well done, but boring... or else a great concept with a poor execution... how do I score this? Of course, we all know the average voter will simply score all 5s for their favs and get grumpy they had to put in so much effort, but the fact remains, it's an interesting idea to quantify all three separately rather than forcing a user to average on his own. Still, while this is a potentially groundbreaking idea, what S2S is really banking on is simpler: a bamboo/organic cotton blend tee for their blanks. Bamboo, as they say, is super-soft, incredibly sustainable, simple to grow plenty of pesticide free, naturally better for soil than other crops... yeah, these are some o' them hippie folks who want to promote improving the environment. A shirt from S2S, ideally, causes less environmental impact than your average clothing production. It's an idea I can get behind, and an idea that doesn't really have any cons. S2S is hoping that it is something we'll find to have plenty of pros.
All the good intentions, however, won't save you if the product sucks, so where do they stand on that? From a logistical standpoint, S2S Nation is indeed a starter company. They have a number of pieces that show definite promise, but they also would probably be ecstatic if you decided to head over and sub something amazing, because that would almost assuredly help their catalog. At the moment, for my money, their strongest tee is The Creator, currently on pre-order. I ended up being sent another strong one, Broken Melody. Besides coming from Canada, which is fun to start with, my tee was slipped inside this tote bag, which is a fairly useful extra. Apparently these totes are made from recycled bottles. See? I feel greener already!
You can see for yourself... even with my crappy camera, the tee still looks stunning printed. The mesh-work came out clean, the print feel is fine... whoever's screening these is doing a solid job. As for the tee itself? I'm going to say the folks at the bamboo clothing plant are over-selling their product a little... so far I have not purified my body, learned to caber-toss, or spoken with woodland creatures (which I think are all claims I've seen bamboo make before). Still, this is definitely a comfortable shirt. It doesn't break my top-3 blanks, but if it's not as soft as the pitchmen would like you to think, it doesn't change the fact that it is noticeably softer than your average tee. It's also a bit of a heavier shirt, but it doesn't feel it on your body. This could be an excellent thing for those who find American Apparel to be too thin. Finally, can I just say that I -love- the cut? I asked for a large, based on the sizing charts, though I normally wear XL in most blanks. This delivers. To me, I'd say it fits like a large-and-a-half, comfortably between L and XL, but as always, checking the sizing charts will suit you better. And best of all, these things are preshrunk, which seems like such a freaking obvious step to me. Solid print + solid shirt goes a long way toward equaling a solid company.
The big question, though, is this: is a bamboo tee worth the $35 base price? I'm going to go with a resounding "maybe." I would say it's the sort of thing you should make a splurge on once, see how you feel about it, and then choose from there. I can see certain people loving bamboo, especially if you're willing to spend a little extra to support the environment, and while it's a bit spendy for my blood, the right design could certainly twist my arm to go full price. It's like spending more for a "green" lightbulb: between the environmentally friendly (and therefore more expensive) construction and the knowledge your product will last longer than the average product, the price stops seeming quite so high. Right now, however, that's not a concern we need to worry about. If you're interested in trying out S2S Nation, they're currently offering all their tees at $25 as an "End of Summer" sale, from now until an unspecified future date. If there's a tee in their catalog that you're loving, I certainly cannot think of a reason why you shouldn't try them out. S2S seems pretty dedicated to quality product, and those are the sorts of tee sites we need to see more of out there.
But if even $25 doesn't tempt you, I do have one last comment on bamboo to share. I've often heard bamboo described as self-cooling. You're shaking your head in astonishment, because it sounds like absolute crap. But let it be known, I've been wearing my tee the whole time I've been writing this review, and I'll be damned if there's not an odd yet not unpleasant draft in my tee. Art and comfort are two important factors in tees for me, but it is not too late to add "mysteriousness" to that list.