What is French Terry? The Complete Guide on Sweatshirt Fabric

French terry was introduced in the 19th century, but the rise in high-end athleisure wear has brought this textile to the forefront of fashion since the millennium. Celebs like J.Lo have rocked French terry tracksuits in music videos, while Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish both love donning oversized hoodies in this material. Dressed up with knee-high boots, or dressed down with high-top sneakers, this is a truly versatile trend that embraces a laid-back spirit and looks effortlessly cool. 

What is French Terry?

French terry comes from the French verb ‘tirer’, meaning ‘to pull’. Manufacturers developed a technique in the mid-1800s where they pulled long knots of silk through dense, woven pieces of cloth to become terrycloth. This evolved into French terry, which is looped on one side of the fabric, leaving a smooth and soft surface on the loopless end. 

The modern version of French terry uses cotton rather than silk, and The Classic T-shirt Company goes one step further by using only 100% organic jersey cotton. Not only does this eliminate harmful chemicals during the production process, but it creates loungewear sweatshirts and joggers that are soft yet durable with excellent breathability too. 

Why French Terry is Perfect for Sweatshirts and Loungewear

With any activewear or loungewear, comfort is a priority, and this is where French terry excels. It's an absorbent fabric, with the looped side wicking moisture away fast; each loop will hold many times its own weight in water. This feature is appealing if you want to wear French terry sweatshirts and joggers during summer. But equally, the fabric will keep you warm in cooler weather too.

French Terry Sweatshirt Joggers Blush Woman

Classic tip: try slipping on an outer layer of French terry after a session at the gym to experience the benefits of this material. 

Similar Materials to French Terry

If you’re searching for the most comfortable fabric, you might be wondering whether to choose French terry or an alternative. So, what makes French terry a superior choice to the list below? 

  • Jersey - this single knit fabric is smooth on both sides. It often contains an elastane blend to help achieve its stretch and recovery rate. On the other hand, French terry is slightly heavier than traditional jersey. With a loop on the inside of the garment, this will capture moisture, trap air and keep you warm. 

  • Fleece fabric - both French terry and fleece are types of knit fabrics, but the yarn loops are shredded during the fleece manufacturing process. This makes it less breathable than a sweatshirt or joggers made from French terry. 

  • Velour - another French fabric originally produced in the 19th century with the appearance and texture of velvet. Velour is often made out of polyester but can be made from cotton. The main difference between this textile and French terry is that velour doesn't absorb water as readily. 

  • Of course, all the above fabrics have their place in the fashion industry, but if you’re looking for naturally soft and eco-friendly fabric, then our French terry is unbeatable. Sustainably sourced and made with organic cotton, The Classic T-shirt Company offers high-quality luxury clothing for your collection. 

    How to Clean and Care for French Terry Fabric and Clothes

    You may have heard that French terry is difficult to clean, and could even shrink. While there are some tips to follow, French terry is generally easy to maintain so long as you’re gentle. You won’t need to send your clothes to the dry cleaner, but you should wash at a cool temperature and tumble on a low heat. Remember to save energy by bulking several of your garments together.  

    If you notice a stubborn stain, it’s important not to use harsh chemicals like bleach on your fabric which can deteriorate the organic cotton. Instead, pre-treat the fabric with white vinegar before washing it with a mild eco-friendly detergent. 

    Bonus tip: Read this to learn how to take care of your organic cotton clothing

    The Classic Tshirt men french terry sweatshirt joggers

    French Terry Menswear 

    The Classic T-shirt Company stocks French terry sweatshirts and joggers for men, each available in black, navy blue, or dark green. Whether you’re covering up after sport, need to walk the dog, or need a relaxed homeworking vibe, you’ll want to stock up on these staples. We have a color retention promise for up to 100 washes, and the garments are pre-shrunk with shape retention engineering. Check out reviews of our French terry menswear here. 

    French Terry Womenswear

    French terry sweatshirts and joggers work so well as layering pieces over your fitness or casualwear. The Classic T-shirt Company Raglan sweatshirt and French terry joggers are both available in black, navy blue, or blush. Not sure which size you need? The handy Find My Fit tool will help you out based on your height, weight, and age. We promise you'll be completely attached to your French terry sweats, just like these happy customers

    Frequently Asked Questions About French Terry

    What is French Terry Knit?

    French terry is a knitted style of fabric that is similar but superior to jersey, velour, or fleece. The defining feature of this textile is the loops on one side only, with soft piles of yarn on the other. 

    Does French Terry Shrink?

    As French terry is made from cotton, there is a chance it will shrink. However, French terry garments from The Classic T-shirt Company are already pre-shrunk and have been manufactured with shape retention engineering. This means that the shape you buy will be the shape that lasts. No shrinking, no stretching - just a comfortable and flattering fit. 

    Will French Terry Keep You Warm?

    French terry has the unusual skill of keeping you both warm and cool when you need it. It's a midweight fabric with more weight than a cotton T-shirt, yet not as hot as a sweatshirt fleece. The loop of the fabric is excellent at wicking away moisture, making this a suitable textile if you need to stay comfortable in any weather. 

    Why is French Terry Fabric Expensive?

    The Classic T-shirt Company uses 100% organic cotton in our French terry garments. This is typically more expensive than mass-produced cotton with an unethical supply chain behind it. But in terms of the environment, humanity, and your end-product, it’s absolutely worth the investment. 

    Organic cotton steers clear from hazardous pesticides, fertilizers, and chemical dyes that are all destructive to the environment and produce low-quality fabrics. We also actively shun any production methods that exploit workers or pollute local communities. 

    The Classic T-shirt Company strongly believes the organic cotton in our luxury loungewear clothing is worth paying a little extra for, and our loyal customers agree. 

    Where can I find Sustainable French Terry Clothing?

    The Classic T-shirt Company is a leading stockist of sustainable French terry clothing, all of which is GOTS-certified. The Global Organic Textile Standard looks at the entire production process, from textile processing and manufacturing to licensing and labeling. This is a stringent process to ensure sustainable, ethical, and high-quality end-garments like ours are available for consumers. 

    French Terry Women Organic Cotton

    We’re huge believers in wearing your values and encourage you to do the same. If you’re committed to changing the face of the fashion world, why not invest in sustainable clothing and help make a collective difference?