American Giant Review: Are Premium Basics Worth It?

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by  David Martin | Last Updated: 

You pull your clothes out of the dryer, only to find that your tees and sweatshirts have shrunk, frayed, and look like they’ve been through war. What’s worse, this is the hundredth time you’ve expected your inexpensive clothing to last, only to be rudely disappointed.

In this review we’ll take a look at some of American Giant’s staples to see if their quality and durability justifies the high price tag.

The Adult Man Image/Icon Image source: American Giant

American Giant

Bottom line: American Giant is taking a shot at global consumerism by domestically producing durable basics. However, this consumer-conscious garment crafting comes at a premium price.

Ratings:

The Adult Man Image/Icon  Design
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Quality of Materials
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Value for Money
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Craftsmanship
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Customer Service

Pros:

  • Durable clothing meant to be worn and stay out of landfills
  • Simple styles that will endure trends
  • Made in the USA by hard-working craftsman and locals
  • More durable clothing reduces waste, and subsequently reduces global consumerism

Cons:

  • Premium prices for basic garments
  • Heavy cotton construction is not the most comfortable

I hate to admit it, but I fit the colloquial definition of insanity when it comes to clothing purchases.

I’ll saunter into H&M, tell myself I’m just going to look because last time I bought their basics I had to get rid of them in two months, and then walk out with heavy bags and a lighter wallet. 

Many describe insanity as repeatedly doing the same thing but expecting a different result each time, so I don’t know how else you’d describe my behavior. 

I finally decided that I’m too young to be off my rocker already, and would rather save any voluntary lunacy for the twilight years of my life. This meant that I had to find my basics elsewhere, and I knew just where to look.

I’d seen ads for American Giant consistently, so I decided to see if paying a premium price up front was actually more cost-effective in the long run.

What Is American Giant?

American Giant tag detail

American Giant describes their origin story with the phrase, “We, the dissatisfied.” 

After taking a good look at the current state of the clothing industry and seeing it rife with corporate greed, questionable business practices, exploitation, and cheap products, they rolled up their sleeves and set to work, intent on bringing some American ingenuity to the scene.

They started with hoodies and expanded to T-shirts, jeans, and more, all without compromising their values, quality standards, or production practices. 

Their production and operational policy focuses on keeping worker’s communities at the center, rather than shareholders and a board of directors. 

Craftsmen are paid fair wages for skillful work, skills are learned, communities are revitalized, and a virtuous cycle is formed that reaches much further than just clothing. 

American Giant

American Giant’s products are perfect for anyone who wants to be more mindful of their environmental impact on the planet, particularly through reducing their consumption. Those who want quality, wardrobe staples made by local craftsmen will also be well served by American Giant.

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Things to Consider Before Buying Basics from American Giant

American Giant Classic Full Zip and Classic Sweatpant on rack

The choice to buy American Giant’s products comes down to your own values. 

If you care about the environment and want to put your money where your mouth is, American Giant’s durable products have significantly less toll on Mother Earth. It’s estimated that the fashion industry is responsible for more annual carbon emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined, which is sobering. 

Unfortunately, buying clothing that doesn’t fit the characteristics of “fast fashion” and won’t be physically abused by your washer and dryer isn’t kind to your wallet—at least initially. 

I get it—dropping over $100 for a zip hoodie is daunting at face value, but with a longer timeline it might just make sense. Say that one hoodie lasts you ten years, where a typical fast fashion hoodie costs $30 and lasts maybe two years.

In ten year’s time, you’ll have spent $118 on an American Giant hoodie that’s now a trusted companion, or you’ll have spent at least $150 for five different hoodies that have unseen environmental impacts. 

Making a long-term investment on clothing is not always easy, so let’s get to the review.

American Giant Review

American Giant has a pretty diverse selection of products, but I wanted to get a feel for how their basic pieces held up. I picked up their Classic Zip Hoodie, the Storm Full Zip, a Premium Slub Crew T, and their Classic Sweatpants

Classic Zip Hoodie

American Giant Classic Full Zip on rack

The first thing I noticed about the Classic Zip Hoodie, and the whole package from American Giant in general, was the weight. It’s heavy. Like a sack of potatoes, heavy.

The Classic Zip is made from 100% combed ringspun cotton, which is a big reason for its heft. Ringspun cotton is different from plain old cotton in that it’s made by twisting and thinning cotton strands to make a fine, strong, and soft rope of cotton fibers. 

The resulting ringspun cotton garment is stronger, softer, and more durable than its regular cotton counterparts. It’s also more expensive, which gives some justification to this hoodie’s price tag.

American Giant Classic Full Zip over flannel

To the touch, a ringspun garment like the Classic Full Zip will feel heavier and more rigid, which to me means it’s higher quality and will do a better job at keeping you warm.

100% cotton hoodies are a divisive topic among hoodie connoisseurs. Some like them for their rigid warmth and heft, others detest them for their lack of breathability, heft, and rigidity. You can’t please everyone, right?

This is an important point to consider, though. If you like your outerwear to be more form-fitting and sleek like a European Formula 1 race car driver, American Giant isn’t for you.

American Giant Classic Full Zip zipper detail

On the other hand, the Classic Full Zip is great for layering on top of other clothes, and has a baggier fit depending on the size you order. Be aware that 100% cotton garments, even ringspun cotton garments, will shrink in the dryer. 

I ordered a size medium Classic Full Zip, which was a little large for my liking at first. A quick cycle through the washer and dryer got it down to the perfect size, but this could just as well go too far and have you looking like an early 2000’s Justin Bieber.

The Classic Full Zip also features reinforced elbow patches and a double-lined hood for extra warmth, which I appreciate. 

American Giant doesn’t skimp on their hood size or construction, either. Nothing is worse than a hood that doesn’t easily cover your head and is constructed to have a point in the back, like you’re wearing a dunce hat underneath. 

American Giant Classic Full Zip hood up

This hoodie is constructed with YKK zippers, which match the sturdiness of the hoodie but don’t glide particularly well. 

Overall, this is a technically sound full zip hoodie. It’s versatile, rugged, high-quality, and stylish. Short of being one of Tony Stark’s hoodies that turns into a full-blown Iron Man suit, I can’t think of anything else I’d want from a basic hoodie.

Classic Full Zip Hoodie from American Giant

The Classic Zip is made from 100% combed ringspun cotton, which is a big reason for its heft. Ringspun cotton is different from plain old cotton in that it’s made by twisting and thinning cotton strands to make a fine, strong, and soft rope of cotton fibers.

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Classic Sweatpant

American Giant Classic Sweatpant on rack

Sweatpants are a perennial necessity, whether it be lounging around the house, going to the gym, or grocery shopping in comfort. 

I’ve never understood the significant pricing disparities that can be found between men’s sweatpant brands. As such, I was excited to get my hands on a premium pair to see if I’ve been unknowingly subjecting myself to lame excuses for sweats my entire life.

Similar to the Classic Full Zip, the Classic Sweatpants are heavy. This is not a bad thing by any means, just noticeable compared to my H&M joggers. This weight difference can again be attributed to the 100% cotton construction, which also means these sweats are susceptible to shrinking.

American Giant Classic Sweatpant with Converse

The Classic Sweatpants feature a back pocket and channeled waistband, which ensures your sweats are the perfect fit, no matter how big your food baby is. Double-needle stitching with high-strength thread means these sweats are not only comfy, but also strong and durable.

I typically wear joggers if I wear sweats, but I actually enjoy the heft and relaxed fit of the Classic Sweatpants. The fleece cotton material feels like it will get broken in with a few washes and only be more comfortable as time goes on.

All things considered, these are high-quality, basic sweats that won’t fall apart or get threadbare any time soon.

Classic Sweatpant from American Giant

The Classic Sweatpants feature a back pocket and channeled waistband, which ensures your sweats are the perfect fit, no matter how big your food baby is. Double-needle stitching with high-strength thread means these sweats are not only comfy, but also strong and durable.

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Premium Slub Crew T

American Giant Premium Slub Crew T on rack

While “slub” sounds like a name you give to a lazy friend, it actually refers to a particular type of fabric construction. A slub is a lump or thick spot in yarn, or the irregular appearance of a fabric caused by this. 

Thus, slub fabric has a slightly uneven, almost bumpy surface due to these thick spots in the cotton. Slub tees have a more textured appearance than your usual T-shirt, which can give a slight refinement to your outfit. It’s all about the details. 

American Giant spent over a year developing their own custom slub fabric in order to eradicate some of the issues typical slub tees have. Since slub fabric has thick spots, this means that there are also thin spots that can often be see-through, especially on white T-shirts. 

While this is more of a concern for women than men, I don’t think anyone has ever enjoyed seeing a random dude’s nipples through his shirt. Light tees also can have an unfortunate combination with cold rooms, and slub tees can only highlight this pointy problem. 

American Giant’s slub fabric is customized to be heavier and non-see-through so you don’t have to worry about these things. 

American Giant Premium Slub Crew T

Why slub fabric, though? What’s the draw besides texture?

Slub T-shirts are more light and airy then your typical 100% cotton tee, due to the slight lumps in the fabric. This means that less of the fabric actually touches your skin, making it more comfortable and breathable.

When I first removed the Premium Slub Crew T from its packaging, I was almost positive it would be see-through. Upon wearing it, testing it out in multiple lighting scenarios, and asking my wife a million times if it was see-through, I can confirm it’s not.

American Giant strikes a delicate balance with this T-shirt, where it’s fairly heavy to the touch but feels very light to wear. I’m a big fan. 

It also has a more tailored cut, which helps to accentuate the shoulders and chest area for a more traditionally masculine appearance. 

Premium Slub Crew from American Giant

American Giant spent a year developing this shirt and its light fabric is as comfortable as it is flattering.

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Storm Full Zip

American Giant Storm Full Zip on rack

The Classic Full Zip has been described as “The Greatest Hoodie Ever Made”, and American Giant decided they wanted to make it even better. 

The Storm Full Zip takes the body of the Classic Full Zip and upgrades it for performance in bad weather. Featuring a scuba hood, zippered pockets, and heavyweight water repellent fabric, this hoodie comfortably straddles the line between outerwear and casual zip hoodie. 

American Giant Storm Full Zip zipper detail1

The scuba hood features a raised collar to cover your neck, and an extra deep hood to keep out the wind, rain, snow, and the light side of the force since you now look like Emperor Palpatine. 

American Giant Storm Full Zip with leather boots

The zippers are noticeably higher quality and have weather-proofed strips to keep rain and rust away. I’m much more satisfied with the zipper glide on the Storm Full Zip—it’s smooth and only requires one hand to unzip.

This hoodie is made weatherproof with a DWR coating, which stands for “durable water repellent.” The treatment is applied to the exterior fabric, helping it to resist water and improving its performance in wet weather.

American Giant Storm Full Zip reflective logo

The Storm Full Zip also comes with a custom reflective logo on the back, between the shoulder blades. This looks good, and also keeps you visible to cars or motorcycles if you’re out in dark conditions. 

I think the major selling point of this hoodie is its versatility. I’m a sucker for efficiency, and one garment offering me the combined use cases of a rain jacket, light winter jacket, and casual hoodie is fantastic. It’s basically Nike’s All Conditions Gear without being pretentious.

Storm Full Zip from American Giant

The Storm Full Zip takes the body of the Classic Full Zip and upgrades it for performance in bad weather. Featuring a scuba hood, zippered pockets, and heavyweight water repellent fabric, this hoodie comfortably straddles the line between outerwear and casual zip hoodie.

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What do Other Reviewers Say About American Giant?

What I Like

  • Every product I tested stands up to American Giant’s claims of durability and quality.

  • All products are made in the USA.

  • The hoodies are heavy, warm, and will last for years.

  • The Premium Slub Crew T feels like a light T-shirt but has enough body to be comfortable.

  • American Giant creates jobs for local craftsmen, and stands against the tide of poor working conditions often found in fast fashion.

What I Don’t Like

  • The heavy, ringspun cotton of the hoodies is not very breathable.

  • Even for USA-made, premium garments I think the prices are slightly high.

Who is American Giant for?

American Giant’s products are perfect for anyone who wants to be more mindful of their environmental impact on the planet, particularly through reducing their consumption. Those who want quality, wardrobe staples made by local craftsmen will also be well served by American Giant.

The Verdict

In a world of fast fashion and rising consumerism, American Giant seeks to be the change. 

Their production pipeline begins with high-quality materials and skilled craftsmen to create the best products possible. Better, durable products means less consumption, and less consumption means less impact on the environment. 

While the initial investment can be hard to swallow, American Giant’s loyal followers prove that the products justify the cost in the long run.

If you’re tired of cheap clothing and want to vote for domestically-produced, durable, stylish clothing, you can’t go wrong with American Giant.

American Giant

American Giant’s products are perfect for anyone who wants to be more mindful of their environmental impact on the planet, particularly through reducing their consumption. Those who want quality, wardrobe staples made by local craftsmen will also be well served by American Giant.

Shop American Giant
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

FAQs

Does American Giant shrink?

American Giant products are 100% cotton, so some shrinking is normal. It shouldn’t shrink more than 3-5%, and American Giant recommends drying on the lowest setting, or air drying.

Where is American Giant made?

American Giant’s products are all made in the USA, with the majority of products being manufactured in South Carolina.

Does American Giant have retail stores?

American Giant has several retail stores in California and one in New York, but primarily does business online. By selling directly to their customers, American Giant ensures you get the best price possible.

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Classic Sweatpant from American Giant
The sturdiest sweats you've ever seen
Classic Sweatpant from American Giant
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Storm Full Zip from American Giant
A great hoodie to be wearing when caught in a storm
Storm Full Zip from American Giant
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