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CF Blog Issue 1: Where Are Your Shirts Made?

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Welcome to our blog. We've had a couple false starts with this thing, but let's do this.

This blog is generally written by our founder. Occasionally staff may contribute, and maybe, if we're lucky, some of our clients will come up with some exclusive content as well. 

One, thanks for a great 2017! 2018 will be even bigger and better.  

For our first post, we want to delve into a question we get asked a lot: "Where Are Your Shirts Made?"

The answer is: lots of places. We do try to avoid China, but occasionally the manufacturers have their cuts sewn there, which then go to our suppliers, and the return system is a pain in the ass so we'll use them if they meet QC standards...but we try to stick with the Central American cuts--Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, etc. Those tend to be the best of the imports. India, too. Occasionally we'll see Sri Lanka or Pakistan, but not very often.

The thing is, the textile industry is extremely globalized. Even though the US is the third top producer of cotton, it is the number one exporter. China is the largest global producer, but they use most of their cotton domestically, and India is in the same boat in second place. 

The reason the US is the number one exporter is NAFTA. The US ships our cotton overseas, where it is processed and manufactured into clothing and other goods, which are then re-imported into the US and sold through distributors like our suppliers to companies like ours, who then print on those garments and ship them to you. It's really weird, because it seems so damn inefficient, but it's the only way to compete in the industry right now. It's just cheaper to do it that way. 

And here's the weird thing. In a single order from our suppliers, for the same t-shirt brand, style, and color, we might get three or four different countries in the same shipment. Maybe the Larges came from Guatemala, the XLs from India, and that one Small we needed for that fill-in came from China. That's how the system works. 

That said, if you want USA Made, we offer that upgrade. With the USA Made upgrade, the t-shirt itself is manufactured in the US, and we print it here in the US, and ship it to you...probably here in the US, nobody overseas has ordered that one as of this writing. 

USA Made is expensive. It's worth it. They're really nice shirts. Now, it'd be cheaper if more people showed that preference. We don't sell many upgrades like that, maybe one every couple months. Most don't generally care to spend the extra money.

So...right now that hasn't changed. Maybe with the new tax law we'll see a resurgence of the US Textiles Industry (we'd love that!) But it'll probably take a brutal renegotiation or complete scrapping of NAFTA to see that take place.

Occasionally we're criticized by people who would like to see the return of a reasonable bit of economic and industrial protectionism. That's well and good, and it's kind of funny to be somewhat in agreement with your critics (while laughing at how little they understand about the world.) In this industry, it's generally binary: either you're buying from a USA Made specialty shop (which is currently a high-price, low-volume venture) OR it's "you get what you get." We're offering the best compromise of both. Why? Because we're obsessive about product quality, but we also have bills to pay. So we strike the best possible balance.

And even when we do get a few Chinese cuts, as long as they're consistent with standards we'll use them--waste not, want not, after all...but we avoid them as much as possible. 

If more people start buying USA Made tees, we'll happily start keeping more of them in stock, which means we can lower our price for the upgrade as it becomes more cost-effective for us to do so. Do this enough, with enough companies, you start sending economic signals to manufacturers, which increases quantity supplied to meet demand and can start drawing funny curves like in Microeconomics class.

Maybe one day we'll get to a place where it's competitive to stock mostly USA Made. That'd be sweet. We'd LOVE it. 

Until then, make sure to scroll down or fill out the box that pops up when you try to close this browser tab and subscribe to our newsletter for all the latest and greatest as well as exclusive offers--and make sure to join our Loyalty Rewards program (see that tab on your left? It's that easy.) Those points add up fast for things like free shipping and free gear!

Have a safe and happy New Year! We'll be in touch soon.