What's the best fabric for polo shirts?

Paulina Kulczycki

What your clothes are made of is not only critical for the planet, it’s also crucial for the quality, functionality and aesthetics of the product itself. It’s especially true for a multi-functional piece like the polo shirt, where the material is of utmost importance. So what exactly is the best fabric for polo shirts? What should you buy, and what should you avoid? Let’s dive right in!

Nowadays, polo shirts can be found in a wide variety of designs and materials. But is this diversity in polo shirt fabrics always welcome? Well, not really. Whether polyester, mixed fabric, jersey or piqué – the timeless classic comes in so many options that choosing the perfect polo shirt is proving to be quite complicated. If you value quality and sustainability as much as we do, it can be challenging to weigh up what is the best fabric for polo shirts. That's why we're comparing the most popular polo shirt materials to make your choice a little easier!


Although polyester is often recommended for polo shirts – especially for sports purposes – we strongly advise against it. On top of being harmful to the environment, fashion items made of synthetic fibres, i.e. plastic, also leave a lot to be desired in terms of quality. Polyester is neither breathable nor really durable. Its production is harmful, it leaks microplastics when washed and, last but not least, it is not biodegradable. Whether or not it’s recycled polyester won’t make much of a difference either.

We assume that this alone answers the question of whether polyester is the best fabric for polo shirts. It’s also quite obvious that the conscious, slow fashion consumer will hardly ever come across polo shirts made of polyester anyway, as fast fashion companies produce them almost exclusively. Why? Because they are cheap, of course. Polyester is just as cheap as it is harmful to the environment. And due to its low production cost, it is still used by many manufacturers – often in mixed fabric blends. 

Mixed fabrics

This brings us to the question of whether a polo shirt that contains only small amounts of polyester is better than a pure polyester product. In short: technically better, yes, but not good either. Even though the quality of a polo shirt made of a cotton-polyester mix is better than one made from pure polyester, mixed fabrics cannot be recycled anymore.

Granted, mixed fabrics are slightly more comfortable to wear and more durable and softer than pure polyester. Yet they’ll also leak microplastics when washed. In our opinion, mixed fabrics are far from the best fabric for polo shirts. That in mind, it is always worth looking at the sewn-in label to be able to recognise and rule out mixed fabrics, when buying a new polo shirt.

By the way, checking labels seems to be an indispensable ritual for sustainable consumers while shopping – similar to vegans in a supermarket (am I right?!). We find that polo shirts made from mixed fabrics are a bit like dark chocolate with added milk powder: completely unnecessary. As a vegan, you put that chocolate back on the shelf, and as a slow fashion enthusiast, you hang that polo shirt made of mixed fabrics back on the rack.


That leaves us with polo shirts made of pure cotton. But not all cotton is equal! There are a number of different fabrics woven from cotton, which are key to the structure, quality and functionality of the end product. One of the most popular cotton fabrics is jersey. Jersey is a classic cotton fabric that is normally used for t-shirts, but nowadays is also used for polo shirts. And although a product made of pure cotton, like jersey, is a natural product and therefore more sustainable than mixed fabrics or polyester, we at SANVT still consider that the light and airy jersey material is not really suitable for polo shirts.

Since the material is usually very thin and has no firm grip, the collar falls in a very inelegant way which reminds us more of PJs. Don't get us wrong: that can look cool if styled the right way. But there's a very thin line between looking casual or looking like you're heading to a pyjama party. Jersey therefore does not convey the smartness and multifunctionality of the classic polo shirt. Definitely not the best fabric for polo shirts!


The best fabric for polo shirts: Piqué

The most traditional material for polo shirts is probably piqué. Piqué is a robust yet soft cotton double weave with a waffle-like structure. It is super easy-care, breathable and extremely absorbent, making it ideal for polo shirts for any occasion – even for sports. The double weave gives the polo shirts a smart yet athletic flair and is also of high quality and durability. When piqué is made from 100% organic cotton, it is also the best fabric for polo shirts in terms of sustainability. If you want to learn more about piqué, you can read all you need to know about this multifunctional fabric here.

That's why we at SANVT have designed our polo shirt with high quality piqué made from 100% organic cotton. With its timeless and minimalist design, a fair production and our carbon neutrality, the Perfect Polo Shirt by SANVT is the perfect sustainable essential for a sporty and classic look!

Photos by Andrea Iacomini & Valentin Rudloff