THERE ARE THREE WAYS THAT WE SOURCE MOST OF OUR RAW MATERIALS.
Wholesale distributer – This is newly manufactured fabric that may come from a U.S. or imported source. We can actually tell where this fabric came from because the manufacturer must provide that information on a product label. Even if the fabric is made by a foreign manufacturer, we can still label the finished product “U.S. Made” because the cost of the imported material is much less then the value of the work that we put into the finished product. Whether the raw material is U.S. made or imported, we always put this info in the description of the item when it is listed for sale online. As of March 2016 all of our sweatshirts and hoodies will be made using U.S. milled fleece.
Textile Convertor – A textile converter resells fabric that is leftover from another manufacturer. For example: An umbrella maker may order 2000yds of nylon to make one of their products, but they may only use 1500yds before the product is discontinued. The remaining 500yds is purchased by a convertor who will likely sell smaller amounts to smaller makers like us. While this isn't really recycling, it is a pretty positive way to source material in smaller amounts. We are able to use up some material that isn't useful to the larger manufacturer, and we can also source some pretty cool and unique fabrics that we would otherwise not have access to. The downside of using converted fabric is that we can't always tell where it was originally made. Unless we recognize the source, we will always assume it was imported.
Dead stock / recycled products – Ok, I will admit that I have a problem with estate sales. I thoroughly enjoy the thought of finding something that is old and well made, whether it be a piece of furniture or a hole punch, the estate sale hunt has become a bit of an obsession of mine. Occasionally I will find a role of old fabric, or a garment made of something unique or interesting that will be incorporated into a product. Many of these products are bespoke or part of a very limited run. If there is information about the source of these materials we provide it, but many times there isn't. We can only trace something back as far as the previous owner. We also occasionally incorporate pieces of recycled material into a product. Recycled material may come from multiple sources.
Other U.S. Companies – While our goal is always to do as much of the production of our products as possible in-house, there are some things that we cannot (yet) do. For example, most of our caps are produced by other manufacturers and finished by us. Usually what this means is that we purchase blank hats and add the labels, patches, embroidery, and printing ourselves. All of our beanies are knit in the U.S. while our brimmed hats are made by U.S. companies, but manufactured in a variety of places including the U.S., Bangladesh, Korea, and Taiwan. Other items like labels, cord, elastic, thread, zippers, and other fasteners come from a wide range of U.S. and imported sources.
It is important to note that just because something is made in the U.S. does not automatically mean it is of superior quality or produced in an ethical and sustainable way. Likewise, an imported product is not inferior or made in poor conditions simply because it comes from another country. The L.A. Garment district is a good example of a place where products of poor quality and made under questionable conditions are likely to come from, and every one of those items will have a label saying “American Made” on it somewhere. We will gladly use an imported material or product over a domestic one if it is superior for the reasons just described.