Quite Possibly the Toughest Work Shirt Ever Made
October 5, 2017 | By Sean McCoy
The brand 1620 makes workwear in the USA. With its new Stretch NYCO Work Shirt, you get few frills and one of the toughest shirts I’ve ever worn.
Cordura is really strong fabric. It forms the foundation of backpacks built in the ’90s that are still going strong today. So it stands to reason this shirt has a fair chance of lasting a lifetime.
1620 sent over a sample of the new Stretch NYCO Work Shirt to test. At $128, it’s expensive but in line with some USA-made canvas shirts. It’s about twice the price of Asian-made canvas shirts from Carhartt.
After wearing for a few weeks, I’m convinced I will probably never wear it out even if I try.
But toughness comes with sacrifice. The shirt has the personality of a hungover lumberjack: tough, unforgiving, no-nonsense. It’s doesn’t cuddle. It’s hard on the outside, and also hard on the inside.
But if you happen to BE a lumberjack, it’s probably the exact shirt you want.
The brand says the fabric of the shirt, developed with Cordura, “is more durable than flannel or canvas but stretches and moves with you, not against you.”
I definitely agree that it’s durable, and likely more than canvas, flannel, and maybe even pavement. But as far as stretch goes, it’s pretty minimal. Put the shirt on and it feels heavy and a little rough. After all, it’s Cordura—it’s like wearing a backpack around your skin.
But it is comfortable in the way a work shirt should be. Don’t plan on doing crossfit in it, unless your workout includes hauling rough-hewn logs on your shoulder and straining to tighten barbed wire fences. Regardless, this shirt will hold up to the job while protecting your skin.
Cordura makes this fabric with two percent Spandex, just enough stretch to actually strengthen the shirt, 1620 founder Joshua Walker said.
“That is what will help it resist tears,” Walker said. “Usually when you make something this beefy, it will be likely to tear as there is not much give. But when you wear the shirt and you flex the shoulders you can feel the two percent gives it that little give — no stitch popping noise.”
I wore the shirt for several days for some modest outdoor use. With no major rugged projects on the horizon, I came up with some simulated wear testing to examine the durability.
First, I tested the abrasion resistance with rough edges of concrete and even a knife. I used a sharp blade on a Leatherman and sliced against the fabric with about 20 pounds of pressure. The blade did pretty much nothing to the fabric in repeated slicing.
Then, I pushed the tip of the blade against the fabric, and it did puncture. So yes, the fabric can be cut. But in typical use, it should not cut unless you really lean into super sharp objects.
Next, I rubbed a section of the fabric against a fairly sharp and rough concrete corner a dozen times. The fabric roughed up a little, and mostly got dirty, but showed few signs of wear. The testing was abusive, and the shirt held up just fine. I even had a coworker drag me over pavement for about 20 yards. The fabric held up great.
Finally, I tried to light a corner on fire. To be clear, this is not a fire-retardant shirt. But the brand says it “inherently meets NFPA 1975 No Melt No Drip Standards,” which make it “great for grinders or exposure to sparks from campfires.”
I put a lighter under it and let it burn for 15 seconds. The fabric smoked a little, but never caught flame. It also didn’t melt. Again, it’s not intended for use where fire may be a hazard, but should hold up to sparks from grinders.
For those looking for a tough, long-lasting shirt for work or the outdoors, this one should live up to the brand’s goal of a built-for-years work shirt.
Check out the full review and video here.