Virtue + Vice | Tips on cleaning up your companies supply chain
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Ok brands, I hear you. You all want to make your clothing the best quality ever. You want them to be able to last for years and maybe even be passed down from generation to generation. But, how do you actually make that a reality? A lot of brands claim they offer top quality - but do they really? The secret- is having a good garment quality control procedures in place. This is often a step most forgotten about by new fashion designers because tbh it is the least fun or glamorous. But, I would argue it is the most important in creating a high-quality product. So, here is a reference, as always for free, of everything you need to check, test, and assure, in order to create the best product ever, complete with a garment quality control checklist to make things easy.
Does Ethically or Sustainably Made mean quality?
do smiling artisans mean you have a quality product?
There are so many aspects of quality assurance. But, let's get one thing straight, quality assurance has nothing to do with ethical, sustainable, or fair trade. Quality is a totally different category on its own. To say, my clothes are made by artisans so they must be good quality is like saying, someone at McDonald's took the time to flip my hamburger, so it's healthy… it's incorrect, and the logic doesn't make sense.
When to test your product for quality
There are two key times to test your product for quality. They are during the product development and sampling stage. And, actively during production. This post is going to break down both.
Why is quality assurance necessary during product development?
A lot of brand's first reaction to creating a garment quality assurance checklist during the sampling phase is, "if my customer is never going to see this sample, then why does it even matter?" or "I only need the sample to look good for a trade show, why do we need test performance now also?". The problem is they aren't thinking holistically.
The goal at the end of the product development is to have one absolutely perfect sample. And when I say perfect I mean perfect. That sample will then be the gold standard of all of your production. Every piece of production will copy that single sample exactly, to a T.
So, skipping ahead for a moment, when following the quality assurance process, everything that is tested for and verified during product development and sampling will need to be tested for and verified again during production. Production is basically a carbon copy x1000 of your sample.
Don't make this sampling mistake
Production should be as simple as repeating the sampling process but at scale. Where a lot of small brands get into trouble is when they sample their line with a sampling house in NYC, LA, or somewhere in North America, and then try to send it overseas to places like India and China for better pricing during production. If you take anything away from this article, take away this… Where ever you sample is where you should produce. This is the ONLY way to guarantee quality in your production run.
Think of sampling like your dress rehearsal. It's a time to work out all the kinks and get everything just right. If you don't give a factory the opportunity to practice, and just jump straight into production, well you are in for a world of problems.
Sometimes factories will say, we will fix that in production. This is kind of like the equivalent of film people saying we will fix that in post. Nope. They won't, and if they do it is probably going to cost you more $$$. Make sure to get a sample of exactly what you want before you go into production.
So, how do you get a perfect sample?
The short answer is good product development. But what is good production development? Well, it requires a lot of testing and checking during the sampling phase.
In my opinion, sampling is the most important part of ensuring quality during the design process. It is the foundation of creating a product. So, how do you get the perfect sample? There are three things to look at:
professional third party fabric testing
professional third party garment testing
visible testing that you can DIY
What is professional third-party testing?
These tests need to be done by a professional testing lab. Science. One of the biggest and most famous testing facilities in the apparel industry is Bureau Veritas. You can also try vartest and intertek.
step 1, have the fabric tested professionally
When sourcing fabric, ask for a test report. Big brands will regularly test up to 10 different things, or more, just for fabrics alone - color fastness, crocking, tear strength, skew, bowing, burst testing, abrasion resistance, yarn count, and those are just a few of the obvious ones. Fabric testing is always done before a garment is cut and sewn because the test reports are a clue as to how a fabric will behave in different situations.
But, what do all these tests even mean?
Tests for how well a piece of fabric keeps its color and does not fade over time. There are different types of colorfastness tests- like for UV light, washing, or even chlorine for swimwear. At the very minimum, you want to make sure your clothes keep their color after they go through one cycle in the washing machine. And, this is the absolute bare minimum. This test, like many tests that are subjective and require the eye of a trained professional, is usually scored on a 5 point scale with 5 being the color sticks to 1 it totally fades away.
Is a special type of color fast testing. It tests if a color can rub or transfer to another piece of fabric off with friction.
This is the force needed to tear a piece of fabric that already has a small rip in it. Why is this important? Well if someone gets a small rip in their clothes, will they be sturdy enough so the whole piece of fabric does not unravel?
Refers to woven fabrics only. In a woven fabric the warp and weft yarns should be at 90-degree angles to one another. Skew is when the yarns are at a different angle. Another term for this is off-grain. It can cause problems like garment twisting, so watch out for this.
You can do skew testing on your own and do not need to pay a company to do it for you. Simply rip a piece of fabric width-wise. Does the fabric have a straight rip? If so you are good. But if the rip is angled, especially if the angle is more than 20 or so degrees you might have problems with your garment.
Is kind of related to skew, but for knit fabrics. You can test for bowing in knit fabric the same way that skew is tested for in wovens. Tear the fabric and see what happens. If the fabric looks like a U shape, this is not a good sign. But, remember there will always be a little bit of curve in the fabric, you just don't want too much.
Is kind of similar to tear strength, but a little different. It measures how much force it takes to, as the name suggests, burst through a piece of fabric. This is an important measure of performance clothing or exercise clothing. For example, you don't want to burst through your gym shorts while doing squats at the gym.
Is basically a test that rubs the fabric to see how well it holds up or if it wears down. Again, if you are making performance clothing this is extra important, you want a fabric with a good abrasion resistance that won't break down from a lot of movement.
Do you need to test for everything?
No. That's way too expensive for most brands. If you had to pick only one thing to test for, in my opinion, shrinkage is the most important test. If your fabric shrinks 30% during washing you are going to end up with A LOT of returns that will need to be resold as doll clothes. To prevent this, you will need to make sure the fabric is pre-shrunk.
Little checks like this make a big difference to the quality of your product and your companies bottom line. So, always ask for a test report.
I bet a lot of you reading this didn't realize that clothing design was so technical and scientific. Well, it is. And there is even more sciency stuff ahead. Did you know that there are garment industry jobs that only focus on quality? And some large companies have entire quality control departments that are in charge of all this stuff.
step 2, have the garment tested professionally
So, you tested your fabric. And, it's perfect. Next, we need to make a sample with it. And then, test the sample. Common garment tests are seam strength, seam slippage, and how well trims stay on and don't fall off, which is done with a pull test.
This refers to how much pressure can be put on a seam before it breaks.
Tests if the yarns in a fabric will slip and slide when sewn. This is most often seen in silks. The fibers are so slippery and the threads so fine, when the garment is sewn the fabric starts to pull and separate apart at the seams.
And lastly, pull testing
Tests how much strength is needed to rip off trims, because you don't want things like buttons falling off too easily.
Alllll the tests...
There are soooo many different types of tests. Literally, there are so many tests that they don't all fit into one book - they take up volumes of books. If you want to learn about every test check out the AATCC, American Association of Textile Colorists and Chemists, to learn more.
One more product testing tip
Remember, pick tests that are relevant to the integrity of the product you are making. For example, if you are making winter coats, well then you probably don't need to test for colorfastness in chlorine. But, you might definitely want to test for waterproofing or wind repellency.
step 3, visual inspection
After you have professional tested all the fabrics, and then the garment, and everything passes. Then, it's time to take a critical eye to the sample.
All of these tests can be done by you or the garments factory to ensure industry quality.
The following industry garment quality control checklist is everything you can inspect yourself.
This is how the fabric is inspected in a factory. The fabric slides through the table, which is very well lit. The inspector then marks any defects with a sticker. The stickers are a red flag to cut around those parts of the fabric.dyeing and printing
Uneven color in the fabric between different components or parts of the garment. Do the sleeves match the body? Sometimes if the fabric is cut from different parts of the roll there will be variance in color. You want to make sure that all the pieces of your garment match to one another.
Fading or discoloration. Grab your color standard. Your color standard is the color you should have chosen for the fabric mill to match to. Pantone is the most famous color standardization system in the world. And then, make sure that the fabric matches the standard.
Prints that are out of register or defective. If your garment has prints make sure everything is all lined up. Off register is an industry term that means the different colors of the print are not in alignment. For example, if you have a pink heart with a grey border. In the first photo the print is correct, the second shows the print off register. This happens because each color of a print is put on the fabric separately. And, sometimes the placement on one screen is a little off, and that can create big problems for you.
Check out this video to see how all the different layers of a print come together.
this is what the final print will look like on the fabric
behind the seams: screen printing - YouTube
And, here are all the screens that need to be cut to make that one print. Each slid is for a different color ink.
miscellaneous fabric defects
Holes and broken fabric yarns. Because no one wants to buy clothing that looks like it has been eaten by moths. Unless I guess that look is intentional.
Weakness that could lead to a hole. Does it fell like the fabric is a little worn or thin in spots, or maybe there are some missing yarns in the fabric? This is a defect.
Snagged yarns. Another culprit that can lead to a hole in a garment. Make sure no yarns are sticking out of the fabric, because they could lead to problems down the line.
Machine lines. Sometimes sewing machines can leave lines in fabrics if the foot of the sewing machine (the little piece that holds the fabric down in place for the needle) is too tight.
Foreign materials on the fabric. Factories are dirty, so make sure there is no dirt, dust, or stray materials on the fabric.
The correct side of the fabric is used. This is a common mistake in factories. They will use the technical back of the fabric instead of the face for the outside. If you forgot how to tell the difference between the front and back of fabric here is a refresher.
Nap direction. This is for fabrics like corduroy or velvet. Make sure on the garment the fuzziness is all facing in the same direction.
Hem or hidden stitch visible. There are sewing techniques, like french seams, that keep seams hidden. If you are using them, make sure your seams are actually hidden.
Contrast stitching uneven. Sometimes designers will use a pop of color to sew the seams of a garment to add contrast. If you are doing this it becomes even more important that the seams are straight and even, because if they are not it will really stand out.
Broken stitches. Watch out for these because they will cause your seams to unravel.
Tension not correct or uniform. Often sewers in sewing lines will play with the tension on their machines to try and sew faster (this is because they are usually paid by the piece they sew, and not by the hour). If the seams feel tight, like they are pulling on the fabric, or if they are loose and saggy, the garment is now sewn properly.
Check for a monofilament thread. Generally, unless called for in the tech pack, seams are sewn with poly or other monofilament threads. Staple length thread will tend to lead to issues during prolonged wear.
Skipped stitches. Make sure the stitching is uniform and consistent.
Needle damage. This is especially important when working with silks or other delicate fabrics. Silks actually require a special needle to prevent needle damage. Look for holes and gaps around the stitches and seams.
Seam puckering. This is when the seam gets all wavy, and is a telltale sign of hasty and careless sewing.
Correct stitches. Did you ask for a flatfeld seam and instead the factory gave you serging? Call this out, and reject the sample.
Correct SPI (stitches per inch). Stitches per inch measure how many stitches are in one inch of the seam. Sewers will often decrease SPI to sew faster. Don't let the quality of your product be compromised because sewers are trying to finish the work faster.
Side seams match. This is important if you have a print like a stripe or a plaid. Do the stripes line up? Are they going in the same directions?
Engineered print placement is correct. Engineered print placement means the print on the fabric falls on a specific part of the garment. If there is a logo that is supposed to be in the middle of the shirt, make sure it's in the middle and not off to one side, too high, or too low.
Oil, dirt, spots. This one is an obvious no-n. And, considered garment defects.
Rings from noticeable cleaning. Sometimes when factories try to get out stains they end up making the fabric a little too clean, and you are left with spots from the cleaning agent. Look out for these too.
factory workers checking the red contrast cuffs on these children's shirts
Curled, puckering, twisting, etc. Here are a few photos of what to look out for and reject.
Open seams. This means that they forgot to sew a seam. It's an easy fix, and the garment just needs to go back into the sewing line and have the missing seam sewn.
Grinning seams. In the industry when something shows through from the back to the front that is not supposed to it is called grin through. An example would be a black print on a white shirt. If the white fabric shows through the print, that is grin through. The same goes for seams. Can you see the stitching from the inside of the garment on the outside?
Uneven seam margins. Are some seams 1/2 inch from the edge of the garment, some 1" and other 3/4"? All seams should be uniform, unless the tech pack calls for variation.
Wrong direction of seam. Are there seams on the outside instead of the inside of the garment?
Thank you Textile Merchandising for this amazing reference photo to explain the perfect seam, and demonstrate seam puckering on too tight seams.
Buttonholes are within specs/tolerances. Sometimes factories will make the buttons holes a little too small, and you can't get the button through, or a little too big so the buttons fall out of the hole. Check them to make sure they are just the right size for the buttons you are using.
Buttons or snaps in alignment. This is an obvious one. Button or snap up the shirt. Does the shirt start to twist or skew? The holes and buttons might not be in alignment.
Securely sewn. You don't want your button falling off, or your zipper sliding down.
Speaking of zippers, exposed zippers. If the garment calls for a hidden zipper, like the back of a women's dress, make sure the zipper is hidden and not visible from the outside.
Wavy zippers. Do the zippers wave? This is a sign of poor quality.
Logo right side up. This might sound obvious. But, so many times I have seen factories sew in labels and logos upside down or in the wrong direction. Make sure to check for this.
Color matching. Are you making a navy shirt that calls for matching buttons, but the button are instead royal blue? Make sure all the trims like buttons, zippers, and threads match to the Pantone color you want.
Even in size shape and location. In cheap clothes, you can see that sometimes pockets in shirts are not in alignment. One is a little higher than the other. Make sure everything is even.
The shape of the pocket flap. Another hasty mistake, if the pocket has a flap make sure it is sewn well. For whatever reason, this is one of most factories favorite spots to skimp on quality. I think because they think no one will notice… but we will.
Pleats or puckering. Again, are the seams wavy? Are there folds of fabric stuck in the seams of the pocket that creates a pleat?
Color/print matching. Does the pocket fabric match in color and print direction to the rest of the garment?
Labels are correct. Make sure the care instructions (how to wash the clothing), made in, fiber content, and all other details listed on labels is correct.
Position of labels is correct. Were the labels sewn into the correct spot? You want to make sure labels are in places where they won't annoy the wearer.
Labels do not have defects. Check the labels for holes, stains, or other imperfections.
Labels are readable. Sometimes when labels are sewn into seams the factory will be careless and sew over what is written on them. Make sure all your text and entire logo is visible.
The application did not cause damage to the garment. Like sewing marks, ironing marks, adhesive, etc. One of the most common issues here is that the tags are sewn on and the sewing thread shows through to the front of the garment. Check to make sure the sewing is not visible.
Wrinkly garments? If they are they need steaming and ironing.
Garments are not damp. If the garments are still damp from steaming and the factory packs them like this, it can cause mold to grow during transit and ruin the entire garment.
Correct pressing, ie direction of pleats. Make sure all the pleats in a garment are facing the correct direction.
Marks from sewing or clamps. Sometimes clamps hold the fabric in place during the cut and sew process, make sure there are not visible indentations.
Check for iron burns. Great, so the garment isn't wrinkly, but make sure they factory did not burn the fabric in the process.
threads and yarns
women in the factory sorting yarns by size and color
Loose threads. Little pieces of stray threads. These should be cut off and removed during the last quality assurance check.
Wrong thread color, size, type. Make sure the factory is using the correct threads.
Threads match. Does you tech pack call for DTM (dye to match) threads? If it does make sure they match the fabric.
measurements and construction
The garment is symmetrical. Look out for one sleeve longer than the other, or other defects like the neckline not being even.
Front and back are even. This one is self-explanatory.
Garments sleeves and legs are not twisting. The garment should not twist or distort while on a hanger.
The garment measures to all of the sample size specification on the tech pack. That means that the fit and all the lengths of sleeves, waistbands, etc are correct.
Are you ready to start sourcing textiles for your apparel or accessories brand? Consider this the only step by step guide you will need for fabric sourcing. I will teach you how to prep, stay organized, and find fabric suppliers - whether you want to work directly with fabric mills and manufacturers or use an agent. This is the same system and process I use after 8 years working in the industry and specializing in textile sourcing!
Before you start fabric sourcing
What do you want to make?
Do you know your product? I can't tell you how many people come to me saying "I want to start a hemp brand" or "I want to start a sustainable fashion line". Hmmm. ok, that's cool. And, I would love to help you.
find your niche
You can't be everything to everyone, so start out super focused. So you want sustainable hemp, or organic cotton fabric? Ok… Are you making women or men's clothes, or maybe something androgynous? Are they casual everyday running errands but still want to look cute clothes? Or, fancy going out clothes? Do your clothes solve a problem? Or, maybe you only want to specialize in one thing - like the perfect t-shirt. Before you get started you need to decide all this. The direction of your brand and the type of product you want to make will dictate what types of fashion fabrics you will source.
tips on finding your niche
Did you play soccer in high school, do you love rollerblading, maybe you were in math league, idk? The best products, and often the most successful ones, are developed by people who know their industry. Think of what you are already into, and what type of product you would like, then use that to help guide you in developing your first products.
who is your product for?
Please don't say "people who care about sustainable fashion".
To say, we make our clothes out of recycled polyester water bottles, at this point feels like, so what? So does, everlane, billabong, nike, patagonia, even fast fashion monster ZARA, and notorious unethical Walmart!
Do your research
Take your time to figure out something special, and remember just because something sounds new to you, that does not mean it actually is. For example, did you know that sustainable fiber darling Tencel was developed in 1972 under the trade name Newcell! And now, 47 years later it is FINALLY making headlines thanks to greenwashing, but in reality, shoppers have been wearing the eco-friendly fiber for half a century! Don't be that greenwashing person do your research.
So, to recap
Before you can get started sourcing fabric, first you need to know exactly what you are making, and who you are making it for. Take your time and do your research before you jump into product development.
If you have tightened up your design and are ready to actually make the product, then, and only then is it time to start looking at fabrics.
How to source fabrics
A complete guide to fabric sourcing (including email templates).
step 1 - start with counter sourcing
If you are a beginner to the world of product development, counter sourcing is a great way to ensure you get the exact materials you are looking for without having to get into all the technical details and industry jargon. For someone who is more novice or has a degree in textiles sometimes we know what we want. For example, I could look at a shirt and say this is X% cotton, X% linen, the yarn size is Z and it was knit on a machine using a Y gauge. Oh, and the fabric also has a 10-minute enzyme rinse. Now please make it for me. But, the reality is most of you don't have this type of knowledge from working fabric sourcing jobs that take at least a decade to amass. But, don't worry, if you follow this guide you will be sourcing fabric like a pro.
step 2 - buy fabrics you like
start by shopping your favorite stores to find fabrics you like and would want to use for your own brand
Hit the market and check out your competitors. Who is killing it in the market you are trying to infiltrate? For example, if you are starting a yoga company. I am using this example because about 80% of the brands that reach out to me with their startup idea are yoga brands. FYI if you want to start a sustainable clothing line try to avoid yoga and swim - the market is fully saturated, competition is high, and your chances of succeeding are low. Try to think of something more original.
Anyway back to our hypothetical yoga company. You would want to shop brands like Lululemon, bandier, outdoor voices (who in my opinion the quality is crap-ola, those things bag and sag within the first 20 minutes of putting them on, but thanks to great marketing college kids love them), Patagonia, or Prana.
Now when you are shopping there are two things you want to look out for. Obviously the first is fabric. And, the second is fit. A little foreshadowing… In a few weeks, I will be releasing an article about developing the perfect fit during the process of apparel manufacturing- bought samples from competitors will be important to the process of apparel sourcing.
Ask the sales reps
Ask sales reps what styles are selling best. You don't need to tell them you are trying to launch a competing brand. Today, more and more shoppers are asking questions about what it is they are buying. So ask away.
Store reps are some of the best resources you will find. They know the product, they see what sells, and more importantly, they see what gets returned, and even more, more importantly why it gets returned. And, they are around the dressing rooms to hear what customers have to say about fit issues.
Seriously, sales reps can add so much value to your business. Whether you are chatting up your competitors for research information or listening to your own. They are the unsung heroes of product development.
Step 3 - Test it out yourself
test the fabrics out to make sure you really, realy like them, if you can find problems with your competitors product, and find solutions to make it better your brand will have a higher chance of success
Buy a few of the competitors' garments and wear them. Does the fabric end up falling apart? Does it pill (get those little balls of lint). Or maybe it loses its stretch really quickly like the outdoor voices brand. Maybe it feels hot and clammy like you are wearing a plastic bag.
The bottom line is, before you ask a fabric mill to get you the exact same fabric make sure what you are trying to copy is a good quality fabric first!
Ok did you find the perfect fabric? One that breaths, stretches, recovers, moves like a second skin, etc? Now, it's time to reach out to mills.
step 4 - find a fabric mill
once you find a fabric you want, you need to find someone that can make it for you
A fabric mill is basically a fabric factory.
Here is a quick mini-lesson in industry lingo. I see people get this wrong all the time. And it is an indicator to someone who is in the industry that you are an imposter. So, use these terms correctly to sound more like a pro. Fabrics come from a mill. Fabric gets printed and dyed at a house - aka a print house or dye house. And, garments are made at a factory.
how to find fabric manufacturers
know the different kinds of fabric suppliers
There are two ways to source fabrics, they are direct with a mill. Or with a fabric sourcing agent. There are pros and cons to each method, so let's take a look.
When you source directly with wholesale fabric mills there is no middle man. This means that you are getting the best price possible. It also means there is less error in communication because you are speaking directly to the people making the fabric. But, on the con side of working direct, these people mean business. You need to be confident in what you want and how you want it, mills will not waste time on amateurs.
100% of my virtue + vice clients have complained to me that they were speaking with a mill or factory, everything was going great… and then all of a sudden they got ghosted. So I tell them to send me their email chain. And, to be real, I almost always get why the ghosting happened. More than a handful of times I actually knew the mill that ghosted them, and quickly was able to take over, and keep the relationship going.
If you aren't confident in your knowledge of textiles, you might want to consider an agent. Or use the handy email templates that I am providing for you in this article.
Agents will work with the factory on your behalf. They are a middle man, or woman. Agents take a commission off of your orders. So you will not be getting the best price possible. But, they are helpful in other ways.
Before approaching, a mill for fabric sourcing a good agent will have an in-depth conversation with you about what it is exactly what you are looking for. They will then offer you advice on if what you want is realistic and re-package your requests into easy to digest notes for the mill.
Pro tip most mills do not want to waste time on such lengthy convos, they want you to come to them knowing what you want and saying what you want in as few words and sentences as possible. Think Kevin from the office.
Why agents don't get ghosted
Remember how earlier I mentioned when I stepped in after a client was ghosted, and the mill was willing to work with me? This happened for two reasons.
The first is I had a relationship with them. Agents are beneficial because they have a pre-existing relationship with the supplier. We know each other, in some cases we are even friends, and we have a long term working relationship. So, obviously, a fabric supplier will trust an agent they have worked with on previous projects as opposed to a form email from a brand that may not have even launched yet.
The second is, time.
Mills know agents will not waste their time. Agents come to them with pre-vetted clients and projects. Their probability of making money working with an agent is generally higher than with some unknown startup fashion brand. That is why agents don't get ghosted but brands do.
New brands, it's great you are starting something, but sometimes you forget that our time is money. I can't tell you how many times brands have tried to take advantage of my time, asking for resources and information from me and then disappearing. That is part of the reason why I write these posts. I want to help you, but I am getting tired of answering the same questions over and over. So here you go, again, this should be a complete tool kit.
Agents have a network
Instead of working with just one factory or mill agents have a deep network or partners, usually all over the world. For example, at virtue + vice we specialize in fabric sourcing in India, China, and the USA, with a few partners in Europe. If your product doesn't work at one mill agents have 20 or 30 others they can reach out to and find you what it is you need. This saves you a lot of time researching.
deadstock and markets
While agents are generally fabric wholesale suppliers, they do have access to other different types of markets, like deadstock and overstock. Which are both a great place to find cheap fabrics. Agents are also able to work directly with mills to find deals on defective or abandoned fabrics.
or, let fabric suppliers come to you
if you want to work direct, tradeshows are a great place for finding suppliers.
I am going, to be honest, mills and factories that have a booming business don't really go to tradeshows, they don't need to, they get most of their business from re-orders and referrals from current clients. The suppliers that take the time to travel to places like NY, Vegas, and even Miami are looking for new business and probably have a little more time to dedicate to a small brand that needs a little more guidance. For that reason these tradeshows are a great place for new designers and brands to start.
Tradeshows will give you access to every type of textiles you could possibly need from velvet and silks to denim and custom cotton prints, finding what you need is easy at these shows.
Google is full of mills and factories, ( Robert Kaufman, is currently holding that number one search spot ) but before you turn to the internet (the wild west of information) to try and find someone to trust in your fabric sourcing, check out a tradeshow.
Here is my personal go-to list of a few fabric sourcing trade shows that are known for having pre-vetted and trustworthy suppliers.
textile trade shows for apparel textile sourcing
functional fabric fair
"FUNCTIONAL FABRIC FAIR New York—powered by PERFORMANCE DAYS®—is a trade-exclusive event showcasing the latest trends in fabric development for the functional textile industry and provides an opportune marketplace in the United States for the sourcing of high-performance functional fabrics and accessories.
The fair is open – free of charge – to verified designers, product, purchasing or material managers looking to source fabrics and accessories for sportswear, workwear, sportive fashion, and athleisure apparel."
"Join us for one of the largest sourcing events on the East Coast for apparel fabric buyers, product R&D specialists, designers, merchandisers and sourcing professionals. Texworld USA is an international business platform and can't-miss industry event that offers a wide product range covering the entire fabric spectrum – season to season attendees discover textiles of innovative structures, material mixes, and surprising color palettes.
What you can expect at Texworld USA Education: We aim to offer ample educational opportunities through the Texworld USA Seminar Series (organized by Lenzing Fibers) and our Texworld USA floor sessions program, Textile Talks. Networking: Texworld USA is a dynamic industry event bringing together industry professionals from all across the globe. Trends: Discover what is new and trending during Summer 2019 edition. Visitors will have the opportunity to take a peek into the newest color and textile offerings for Fall/Winter 2020 with Texworld Showcase. Diverse Product Groups: We are excited to feature over 16 product groups, ensuring the largest possible variety of quality, affordable products for all apparel end-uses."
premiere vision Paris
"For 3 days, 2 times a year, at Paris-Nord Villepinte, the six major industries supplying materials and services to the global fashion industry (including Yarns, Fabrics, Leather, Designs, Accessories, Manufacturing) come together in Paris."
Premiere vision nyc
"For 40 years, Première Vision, a subsidiary of the Association Première Vision and the GL Events Group, has been organizing shows and events for professionals in the international fashion and textile industry. By constantly adapting to the needs of international markets, the Première Vision shows remain true to the same high goals: to provide its visitors a selective, quality and creative offer and services, and unique fashion information."
"Discover the future. Learn about radical new environmental initiatives and business models in the textile supply chain. Understand the trends. See how disruptive technologies and financial innovations can create new opportunities. Meet the new leaders. Planet Textiles features innovators in the global textile and retail businesses who are reshaping the industry. Connect. Delegates will have ongoing opportunities to forge new relationships at Planet Textiles. Explore the ecosystem. Planet Textiles explores company engagement, collaboration, transparency and how to measure."
sourcing at magic
"In August, all 12 MAGIC shows will be hosted under one roof at the Las Vegas Convention Center. SOURCING AT MAGIC is your link to the entire global supply chain. This incredible source of inspiration, education, innovation, and resources is what keeps fashion moving. With over 40 countries represented, this must-see destination attracts designers, brands and retailers alike to discover what they need to move their business forward."
The London Textile Fair - for fabric sourcing UK
"WITH MORE THAN 470 EXHIBITORS, THE LONDON TEXTILE FAIR IS THE UK’S PREMIER PLATFORM FOR FASHION FABRICS, CLOTHING ACCESSORIES, PRINT STUDIOS, AND VINTAGE GARMENTS. TLTF provides manufacturers and their agents with the opportunity to showcase their products to the most influential British buyers and designers. The show is one of the top industry events within the UK with an increasing international appeal.
Location: The Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 0QH"
apparel textile sourcing at the Mana Wynwood Convention center
Back to our yoga brand example. Miami has become a hot spot for swimwear, resort wear, and yoga athleisure wear. If you are looking for those types of fabrics, this is a tradeshow that might be worth the trip.
ATSM 2019 connects the southeastern United States, North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean to the international marketplace for apparel, textiles, and fashion.
The 2019 ATSM Seminar Series focuses on the most prominent topics affecting apparel and trade. Visit our seminars page to see our line-up from last year's show. (2019 Schedule to be announced)
• FABRIC & TRIM • Swimwear & Resort wear • B2B Ecommerce, Technology and Sustainable Sourcing"
who are your competitors using?
There is one last way to find a mill. Thanks to transparency more and more brands are listing on their websites and social media who it is they are working with. Everlane and Madewell are two that are known for listing their fabric mills and factories. If you like one of their fabrics go ahead and reach out to the mill and ask for the same thing. Easy, right?
Ok, so you know what you want to source, and you found the fashion fabric sourcing partner that you want to work with, now what?
step 5 - Introduce yourself.
keep your communications quick and to the point
Say hello, and let the factory know a little bit about yourself, your product, and what it is you need from them.
Here is an email template to do this.
Hello mill name,
My name is ____________. I am the the founder, product developer, designers, etc of the brand ____________. I found your company through Google, tradeshow, a friend or colleague, etc.
(Now give a little info about your brand, BUT no more than 4 sentences, remember we are all busy people. We really don't care how the idea came to you and your best friend while on vacation in Fiji).
Sentence one: What your brand is making Sentence two: Your timeline - have you launched? when do you plan to launch? If possible insert a hyperlink to your website here. Sentence three: What your brand is looking for, aka the types of fabrics you need. Sentence four: Your projected order size. (one of the best ways to get ghosted really quickly by a factory is to tell them you plan on huge orders, and the try to order only a few yards - adios, sayonara). Be honest. If you are small, let them know - they might be willing to work with you, or sometimes even refer you to someone else that can help you if you aren't a good fit.
Thank you for your time,
your name website link social media link press link
step 6 - ask for counter swatches
If the mill does not answer or does not want to work with you, that's ok. Keep emailing. Eventually, you will find a partner that is the right fit.
If they do want to work with you, it's time to send a cutting.
Send a cutting of the fabric you like to the mill.
And, tell them why it is you like the fabric. Chances are they do not have the exact same fabric as the one you are sending, but they have one that is very similar.
When sending swatches make sure to label them clearly. Give each fabric a name, or number code, so nothing gets confusing. And, always type up a clear list of what you are sending.
Here is an email template for counter sourcing fabrics.
Hi name of mill contact,
Today I am sending you # of swatches via insert FedEx, DHL, or postal service tracking number here. Please confirm upon receipt. (This request is standard industry lingo, the factory will then send you a quick email saying hey we received your swatches and are getting to work).
Please note the package includes the below items:
List your items here, (remember to make sure to be clear in your documentation and naming of each item so there is no confusion).
BONUS: take photos Take photos of what you are sending and include them in the email so there is absolutely zero chance for confusion. If you take photos, all you need to say is…
Please see the attached photos for your easy reference.
And that's it! Stick to the script to sound like an industry pro and keep it professional.
step 7 - review the mills counter swatches
Upon receiving your swatches, the mill will go into their library of fabrics and check out what is currently running and pull some similar items. They will then send swatches of fabrics back to you that they think might be a good fit based on your original swatches sent to them.
FYI, you are responsible for paying for your own shipping charges here. It is not the mills responsibility to front shipping costs for a brand.
step 8 test it out, sample first
Did the mill send you a fabric you like? Test it out! If they didn't explain to them why you didn't like the fabric and ask more more swatches.
Don't get bullied into placing an order immediately when sourcing fabrics. You should always be able to test your fabric out first. And, testing fabric is crucial to the integrity and quality of your product.
A small swatch of fabric might look great, but you need to buy a few meters, make a garment and test out how the fabric performs. I see many brands skipping this step, and if often leads to product quality nightmares, and product returns down the line.
If a mill will not let you sample before you commit to a big bulk order, don't work with them. There are sooooo many mills out there in the world, and the ethical ones will always let you sample first. Not being allowed to sample is a red flag to run the other way and not work with that supplier.
step 9 - stay organized
stay organized, use an FDS (Fabric Data Sheet)
You are going to have so many swatches going out, coming in, and information floating around. Stay organized.
I always use and excel to keep track of my fabrics. Here is a screenshot of a handy template to help you stay organized.
Have you heard of the zero waste clothing brand four rabbit? If you haven't, they are pretty cool. Their stuff is even in the Copper Hewit Store. New York-based Arielle Toelke is the one woman show behind four rabbit, and has a deep knowledge of fine art and zero waste design. She wants to change the way people think about eco-fashion by seamlessly blending function and style for lightweight travel.
Her Tsunami Jacket is a perfect example of her brand's mission. The low impact, digitally printed jacket is made of Tyvek. Tyvek is basically a recyclable plastic paper. The textile creates, literally, a paper-thin lightweight garment. And, like all of her styles, the jacket uses zero waste pattern pieces.
WHAT IS ZERO WASTE FASHION?
Zero waste fashion design takes the entire garment lifecycle into account to ensure waste free fashion. And, in the ever-evolving world of sustainable fashion zero waste is a hot trend.
HOW TO CREATE ZERO WASTE DESIGNS
So instead of explaining to you what zero waste fashion design is and ins't, Arielle and I are going to show you how four rabbit makes their zero waste t-shirt.
SOURCING TRIP TO INDIA
Arielle of four rabbit at the Taj Mahal on virtue + vice's 10 day sustainable fashion tour!
10 days, 4 cities, 1 zero waste shirt!
Arielle joined virtue + vice last January on our 10-day Sustainable Fashion Tour through India. On the trip, everyone had different goals. Some were there to just experience India, some were interested in artisan workshops and learning about India's history of handicrafts, and some, like Arielle, were there to gain contacts for their sustainable fashion brand.
We traveled from Delhi to Agra, to Jaipur, spent a day in Bagru, and then ended our trip in Maheshwar (actually Arielle even came to Goa with me for a week after the "official trip"), and, along the way, she was able to design, develop, and produce a zero waste shirt.
Before you start creating your zero waste fashion brand, you will need to think about your entire supply chain. From the initial design concepts all the way to fabric waste in landfills. This is because zero waste fashion brands must account for every single step to ensure all resources are used, and environmental impact is minimal.
STEP 1: FABRIC SELECTION
So, let's get started with zero waste product design. When designing zero-waste clothing the first step is choosing the right fabric that won't create any clothing waste. There are two ways of going about this fabric waste design challenge.
Available Inventory vs. deadstock fabrics
First, we limited our search to fabric qualities with available yardage, not deadstock. Factories, especially t-shirt factories that run the same fabrics over and over and over, tend to have warehouses full of their fabrics. It is cheaper to produce fabrics in large bulk amounts, and because the fabrics are common (commodity fabrics) eventually they will be used.
Many novice brands, media, and fashion magazines would like to believe that the fabrics inside of these warehouses is all textile waste and companies like four rabbit are saving the fabric from a landfill. But, eventually, someone, like four rabbit will buy it.
Why is available inventory an advantage to deadstock
True deadstock fabric is usually damaged or has some defect that has made the fashion industry not want it. The problem with deadstock is you don't always know what the defect is. It could be something as small as a color variance. In that case, who cares? use it. Or, it could be that the fabric did not past testing and disintegrates in the wash. Using deadstock fabric is a crapshoot.
So, because available inventory, as opposed to true deadstock, gave us access to higher quality and more reliable textiles, that would, in theory, last longer and perform better we chose that route. Environmentally speaking at the end of the day the impact was the same - with both available inventory and deadstock, the fabric was already made and ready to go. Four rabbit did not need to create anything new.
Choosing the right Fibers
Next, we needed to choose what fiber content to use. Again, because Arielle was creating a true zero-waste design, where the fibers end up when the shirt gets thrown away is important. For this first order, the shirts are made out of 100% cotton. Yes, of course, there are other "more sustainable" fiber options out there like hemp or even organic cotton. But, when you are dealing with available fabrics you can't always be picky and need to take what you can get. And, in the spectrum of sustainable design, cotton is a lot more eco-friendly than a synthetic fiber like polyester aka plastic.
SUSTAINABILITY PRO TIP:
Some companies are even starting to use factory scraps to make new textiles. IroIro in Jaipur is one of these companies. Bhaavya's family owns a factory in Jaipur. She takes all of her families waste and does zero waste weaving to create new upcycled textiles. If you are thinking about designing a zero waste collection, they are definitely worth checking out.
STEP 2 - ZERO WASTE PATTERN MAKING
master ji designing a zero waste pattern
Each zero waste pattern needs to be custom made to the width of the specific fabric chosen. This means before we could get to work on the pattern, first we needed to know how wide the fabric was.
In conventional t-shirt making, often patterns are made first, and then fabrics are chosen. But, in conventional patterns, there is also a lot of space between each pattern piece, which creates a lot of waste. A zero waste pattern ensures that when the cutting room starts to cut the garment that absolutely nothing will be wasted.
This is a serious task for designers. A designer, of course, wants their garment to fit perfectly when they work on clothing pattern design, But, zero waste adds a new set of rules and constraints to traditional design. They now need to create a garment that looks good and wastes absolutely nothing. The key to a quality product is not to compromise the fit of the garments to accommodate wanting to use all the fabric when designing clothing patterns.
SUSTAINABILITY PRO TIP:
Creating a zero waste pattern while makng compromises for fit and ensuring nothing goes to waste is a fine line to walk, and takes a level of expertise to accomplish. If you are finding your pattern still has extra fabric, consider making something to give away for free. Like a scrunchie. With the extra fabric in her pattern four rabbit makes a storage pouch for her tsunami jacket.
STEP 3 - trims, labels and tags
Let's be real. Hang tags have no purpose but to be removed and thrown away. If you need to use a hang tag (some retail stores require them) I would recommend using one made out of recycled paper. Or, even better cotton that has been collected from factory cutting rooms floors and been downcycled into paper. There are also tags on the market that have seeds and can be planted to grow flowers.
But, if you can I would skip the hangtags all together.
Cloth labels can be made to order. But, I would skip them too. Instead, invest in a wooden block to stamp the logo and care instructions on. The block will last forever.
STEP 4 - who made my clothes?
We have the fabric, we have the pattern. Now, it's time to make the zero waste shirt a reality. Even though labor practices are technically not part of zero waste, they are still important.
So, when choosing a factory, make sure to choose a good one. One that cares about their employees and works transparently. If you can (I know not every brand can afford this starting out) try and visit yourself.
Step 5 - decorate it
Arielle chose to block print, and then dye her shirts. Block printing is a great alternative to conventional print methods, and you can learn more about the positive environmental impacts here.
In block printing, a wooden block is carved with a pattern. The block then acts as a stamp to print the fabric. Before Arielle came on the trip we had the print house in Bagru develop her snake design and four rabbit design into blocks. This way when she got there they were ready for her to use. Generally, blocks take about 1 month to develop.
Everyone on the trip was super excited for Arielle when she printed her first block on one of her t-shirts
close up of the snake print! the great thing about blocks is that you can use and re-use them forever :)
Block printing is done, now time for some color!
My good friend Deepak from Block Print House dip dying a four rabbit shirt
Arielle did a different dye process on each of her two shirts. The first shirt was dipped in an underground indigo well that has been around for about 100 years!
The second shirt she chose to dye in onion peels. While we were visiting weavers in Maheshwar they dyers on the roof were prepping an onion dye for yarns to be woven. TBH, at first, I thought they were cooking soup. It smelled pretty good. Arielle decided on the spot to toss one of her 0 waste designs in.
this is what natural onion dye looks like
another shirt ready for dyeing, this one with the four rabbit logo
first dip in the dye pot. natural dyes take a lot of time to build color.
How great is this color?
and... the finished product
Now, you can't always get as lucky as Arielle and be able to use an available dye vat. So, I would recommend using dyes made from food scraps. Old foods like onions, avocado pits, and berries can make for great dyes. Did you know that even rusty nails can create fabric dye?!
SUSTAINABILITY PRO TIP:
When natural plant dying the fabric used should always be natural too!
If you are interested in more four rabbit styles or would like more information about her designs, check out their site.
helpful resources zero waste resources
get inspired by other designers zero waste fashion
Julian Roberts teaches the math and science behind zero waste pattern cutting.
Stop by a zero waste nyc meetup. Or, swing by the NYC Center For Architecture to check out their recent exhibitions and course offerings on zero waste. If you don't live in NYC, the AIANY zero waste design guidelines are available online with other resources.
FABSCRAP turns NYC waste from the fashion industry into supplies for emerging designers. It's a great way to help out and meet new friends. And, because the brands they collect from are trying to waste zero clothing you will sometimes find some great designer samples that are being donated and are up for grabs for volunteers!
ALL OF MY FAVORITE PLACES TO EAT, SLEEP, SIGHTSEE, AND SHOP. This is a 3 part series of posts where I dive deep into all of my favorite places to hang out, eat, and stay. This week I'll give you my honest review of the best hotels in Jaipur.
Are you thinking about starting your own sustainable and ethical clothing line? If you are then Jaipur is probably on your radar. It is a must for small designers from the united states, Europe and Australia. While nearby, Delhi is a Mecca for manufacturing, small conscious brands tend to prefer Jaipur because it is easier to get around. So, if you are thinking about planning your first trip to Jaipur to start your brand, here are some tips on getting around The Pink City.
Hawa Mahal (Wind Palace) in Jaipur City
My Top 3 Reasons to Visit
It's Inspiring Jaipur is a creative city full of color and amazing people, so much color that even for India it can feel like sensory overload – you can’t help but feel inspired here.
Location The location of the city is also perfect. It is nearby to Delhi, a manufacturing mecca. And, as an added benefit the Taj Mahal, and other famous cities that make for awesome weekend trips like Udaipur, Ranakpur, and Jhodpur are a short car or train ride away.
It's female friendly The other positive for Jaipur is it’s relatively liberal and very safe for solo female travelers or really anyone that is coming to India for the first time and has safety concerns.
Jaipur's Gowing Clothing Scene
Jaipur is one of Indias fasted growing cities specializing in fashion.
Block print tables in Bagru
Just outside of Jaipur in Saganeer and Bagru you will find tons of block print artisans. This particular region of Rajasthan is famous for block print fabrics. These fabrics are engrained in the culture of the city, they are on table clothes, bedding at hotels, even some car drivers have upholstered their seats with them. Jaipur is also known for other artisan crafts like pottery and jewelry.
Focus on sustainability
Did you know that polyester (petroleum, aka plastic) fabrics require different dyes than plant-based rayon fabrics? Polyester dyes and dye houses that can process these special, and much more toxic, chemicals are almost impossible to find in Jaipur. I have scoured the city, and only found one person that can dye polyester.
Instead, factories and mills choose to only work with more natural materials like cotton, silks, and plant-based synthetics. And, use non-azo toxin-free dyes. There are even a few dyers who specialize in plant-based and ayurvedic dying.
Small batch production
Most new brands have trouble finding factories that will produce only a few pieces while they are starting out and still growing. I hear so many stories of brands that had to commit to 500 or even 1000 pieces per style, and went bankrupt in the process trying to sell all their inventory off.
Jaipur loves small brands. I think this goes back to the artisan and sustainable culture. With artisans instead of machines being used it is much easier to make small batch production orders. And, it’s also way less wasteful to produce only what you can sell and not extra inventory that may end up in a landfill.
Getting Around Jaipur
The first thing you need to do when planning your trip to Jaipur is to book your accommodations. Hotels fill up really quickly from the months of October to March (when there is the best weather). So plan ahead and reserve a place to stay before you do anything else!
Do a quick google search of " hotels Jaipur India ", and you are going to be overwhelmed with options. So, forget that list of the best hotels in Jaipur by TripAdvisor, here is my personal list of my favorite hotels in Jaipur that are pre-vetted, and of course perfect for women traveling alone. Because, safety first.
Before you start planning all your sightseeing and fun activities you are going to need a place to stay. And, Jaipur has something for everyone from the budget backpacker to the most opulent who want to live like royalty. The amazing thing about Jaipur is that at no matter your budget you can find amazing accommodations. As a general rule, I would avoid staying near the Jaipur International Airport, and instead opt for places closer to the Jaipur city centre.
What's Important To You?
Remember while you are looking for the best hotel to stay in Jaipur, it is important to keep your personal criteria in mind. Are you looking for the best location near all the sightseeing? Something close to where you will be working? Or are you interested in really getting a taste of Maharashtra luxury?
Regardless of your needs, I promise Jaipur has something for you.
Jaipur Backpacker Hostel
Hostels in India can be seriously nice. When I am traveling to new cities alone, where I don't really have my bearings or a network of contacts I usually choose to stay in a backpackers hostel.
But, here is the trick to living that hostel life in style. Opt for a private room. Many hostels in India offer options for private rooms with your own bathroom. This is great, because you get the community feel of a hostel, but with privacy and don't have to listen to the stranger in the next bunk over snore all night.
I always use HOSTELWORLD to search for where to stay because they have reliable reviews and make it really easy to filter places by if they have private rooms or not. They even have an app which makes booking on the go a breeze.
Best for Being Social - Moustache Jaipur Hostel
Moustache Jaipur consistently makes every bloggers list of best hostels in Jaipur. And, with good reason. This place is great. The owner is lovely, the property is well kept. And, you will find awesome respectful travelers who are more down to learn about Indian culture than party. The location is close to the city center which makes sighseeting convenient. The owners of the hotel even plan special excursions like bike ride tours for the residents staying there making your stay feel more like a curated boutique experience than one of a budget backpacker.
A room in a shared dorm will run you about $5 a night (your bunk comes with privacy curtains), while a private room ranges from $14-$30 depending on the season.
Best budget hotel - hotel 7 star
No this is not a 7 star hotel in Jaipur. If staying at a hostel feels a little too college for you (fyi people of all ages stay at hostels in India) but, you are on a strict budget checking out hotel 7 star is a great option at only $8 per night.
Mid Tier hotels
What makes The Pink City so accessible is its never-ending options of affordable, and budget hotels in Jaipur India. Although the prices are low, they are all still amazing places to call home during your time in The Pink City.
Your Home Away From Home - Hotel Pearl Palace
Hotel Pearl Palace
Hotel Pearl Palace is famous for long stay guests in Jaipur Jaipur. They make coming home to a long day of work or driving around city traffic easy by offering a hip restaurant called the Peackcock Rooftop Restaurant. There is a little bit of everything on this menu, from traditional Indian thali to pad thai, or even pizza. Eatting here never gets boring.
A room at The Hotel Pearl Palace in Jaipur
What I love about the rooms here is that every one is decorated differently, and each has its own unique character.
A room here will run you about $15-$20 per night.
Hotel Kalyan and Hotel Chitra Katha
Two other hotels right on the same block as the Hotel Pearl Palace are Hotel Kalyan and Hotel Chitra Katha. So if Pearl Palace is full, don't worry try one of these out. Another bonus of the hotels in this location is that they are a quick drive from the railway station, and if you are doing work near the Amber Fort (there are lots of little artisan workshops in the area) it makes your morning commute quick and easy.
DISCLAIMER: Because of all the hotels and restaurants on this block, it can sometimes feel a little overcrowded and noisy.
Best Haveli - Anuraag Villa
Guestroom at Anuraag Villa
If you are looking for something a little more hidden away and in a quieter area, try Anuraag Villa. They are a bit more pricy at about $25-$30 per night. When I first began staying there 4 years ago they were only about $11 per night (in the high season!) But, now because they have become quite popular with tourists they are raising their prices. That's ok, because, with Anuraag, which is located in Bani Park, you get a much more private and residential vibe than Hotel Pearl Palace.
Anuraag Villa garden view
Anuraag Villa has a back garden with real peacocks. And, every morning they play traditional Indian music. Like Pearl Palace each room is decorated differently, but are way more spacious.
Affordable Luxury - pearl palace heritage
Room at Pearl Palace Heritage
After the success of the Pearl Palace Hotel, right around the corner, the owner's son has opened the Hotel Pearl Palace Heritage. This isn't an actual heritage hotel. It is a heritage style. But, OMG, does it capture the spirit of Jaipur. The decorations are symbolic of Rajasthan and India as a whole. So many patterns and colors clashing together, it shouldn't work, but somehow it does. Whoever decorated this place deserves to win an award. But, enough of my words, I'll let the pictures do the talking. During the season a room will run you about $60-$80.
Marissa of Symbology proving that more is more when it comes to design in Jaipur
Bonus: The owners have a really cute dog
Affordable heritage hotel - hotel diggi palace
Hotel Diggi Palace
This hotel is a true heritage hotel. To be classified as a heritage hotel these palaces, castles, forts, and havelies (homes) need to have been built before 1950. And, they must keep their original architecture, to preserve the traditions and culture of the area.
Hotel Diggi Palace courtyard
Best Hotels in Jaipur City Center - jas villas
There are lots of good hotels in Jaipur city Center (where all the action is), but this is the best. Jas Villas is kind of like a grown-up version of Anuraag Villa. And is also located in Bani Park, only 5 mins from the infamous sites like the Hawa Mahal wind palace and Jaipur city center. The property is a sprawling mansion with balconies wrapping around the entire exterior. Rooms are large and spacious and will have you feeling like Rajasthani royalty. And, there are beautiful gardens on the property to explore or chill out in after a day of sightseeing.
Lastly, they have an outdoor swimming pool! If you are coming to Jaipur in the summer months a pool is a total game changer when trying to beat the heat.
5 star luxury luxury hotels
The next few on the list are luxury five star hotels in Jaipur that will give you a taste of how royals live.
The Most Famous - Taj Rambagh Palace
Taj Rambagh Palace
Taj Rambagh Palace is technically considered a heritage hotel and is arguably the most famous of Jaipur palace hotels. This palace is insane. The property is part of the Taj Hotel group, known throughout India for their luxury properties. The most basic room will cost about $500 during the busy fall and winter seasons, but the prices on room upgrades go up quickly to the thousands per night. This is easily one of the most expensive hotel in Jaipur. And because of its iconic decorations and architecture, the Taj Rambagh Palace is a popular spot of brands to have photoshots and show filmings.
The palace Jaipur was originally built in 1835, and is intwined in much of the cities history. It was originally the home of the queen’s favourite handmaiden. It then transitioned into a royal guesthouse and hunting lodge. And finally, before becoming a hotel it was the residence of the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II and his queen, Maharani Gayatri Devi. The palace property even offers the option to stay in the Maharaja's old sleeping chambers!
Taj Rambagh Palace Courtyard
Rooms in the Taj Rambagh Palace. The look like they are straight off a movie screen.
The quaint restaurant Steam is on the Rambagh Palace property. Steam serves western and Mediterranian style dishes from inside an old refurbished train car.
Best Architecture - Jai Mahal Palace
Jai Mahal Palace grounds
Another one of the Taj property 5 star hotels in Jaipur. With close proximity to the city palace, Jai Mahal Palace has been home to three Prime Ministers. The palace was built in 1745, and is known for its iconic Indo-Saracenic architecture located on 18 acres of pristine Mughal gardens. And, of course, complete with an outdoor pool.
Room at the Jai Mahal Palace
Luxury Camping - Oberoi Rajvilas
Luxury tents at the Oberoi Rajvilas
What makes this Oberoi Jaipur property stand out from the other five star luxury places on the list is their luxury tents. These are not your tents from Girl Scouts. The tent's design is drawn from the majestic caravans that would cross the Rajasthani desert long ago. They are air-conditioned, have a triple canopy, private bathrooms, and all the luxury amenities of the other palaces on this hotel Jaipur list. Think the highest in glamping comfort and luxury.
Rooms at the Oberoi Rajvilas
Best Interior Design - Sujan Rajmahal Palace
Lounge at the Sujan Rajmahal Palace
The Maharaja of Jaipur calls the Sujan Rajmahal Palace home. It is a private enclosed oasis, secluded by gardens, and rich in history.
Sugan Rajmahal is one of the most unique places to stay in Jaipur. And that is because of the crazy amount of detail put into decorating the palace.
Room at Sujan Rajmahal Palace
Cafe at Sujan Rajmahal Palace
"All of the rooms of Rajmahal Palace have undergone an extensive refurbishment. Adil Ahmad designed each wallpaper and fabrics. The wallpaper, specially created for each room, tell the many stories of Jaipur, its rulers, their legacies and the collective history of the Kingdom of Amer. Motifs and colors were chosen to reinforce the theme of the rooms and become a defining backdrop for the furniture and other elements. The buta, the cypress, the floral patterned borders, the geometric shapes, all taken from the stone carvings that embellish the forts, palaces, and havelis that are intrinsic to the dictionary of design, and have been introduced into the larger design scheme. Each room is completely different from the other. The vibrant diversity, set within the stringent unity of the grand design, is the raison d’etre of the reinvention of Rajmahal."
Wow. Just wow. That is some serious attention to details.
New To The Scene - Lebua Resort Jaipur
Lebua Resort Jaipur
With clean lines and a minimalist approach to design and details, the property feels like Miami meets India. Lebua Resort Jaipur is one of the newest hotels to the Jaipur scene and only time will tell if it can compete with the older palaces rooted in Rajasthan's heritage.
Poolside Lebua Resort Jaipur
international chain hotels
While I wouldn't recommend staying in these, I know a lot of people traveling to India for the first time sometimes like to stay in an international chain hotel.
To me, chain hotels feel generic and stuffy, especially in a place like Jaipur that is so unique and has so many independently ranked star hotels. But, I get it. Sometimes in a faraway place, you want something that you know. So, if you are one of those people, here are my recommendations.
Best For Doing Business - Marriott Jaipur resort
JW Marriott Jaipur
The Marriott offers a reliable 5 star luxury and is known for its business and meeting rooms. The Marriott boasts itself on being business-friendly, helping to help you get your work done. The rooms are your typical hotel rooms with wooden finishes and crisp white sheets. But, they do make a good effort to add some Indian culture into their design. The property makes staying in shape while traveling easy with its state of the art fitness room and sprawling outdoor pool perfect for getting a few laps in.
Room at the JW Marriott Jaipur
Most Consistent - Radisson Jaipur city
Radisson Jaipur City
Radisson is one of my favorite affordable hotel chains in India. Generally, they offer a really high-quality product at a competitive price, and no matter where you are in the country they are consistent with quality. I have stayed in Radissons all over India. Much like the Marriott you are not going to get any of that local Jaipur flavor while staying here. But, the property does make for the perfect reprieve from the crazy hustle and bustle of inn Jaipur City. And, as a bonus, the hotel is a quick 15-minute drive down Tonk Road to the airport.
Room at Radisson Jaipur City
BONUS: Booking Tips
For Jaipur hotel bookings I always call the hotels directly. Because so many of the places on this list are boutique hotels if you call or email directly, and are staying I Jaipur for a long time, they will work with you to give you a deal
There you have it. My list of best hotels in Jaipur India. Did I forget one? Let me know in the comments!
A few tips when buying your next pair of eco-friendly jeans
Conscious fashion is not clear-cut, there is no end all pair of jeans that can claim these are the most sustainable jeans for women. It’s a spectrum. Instead of demanding a black and white sustainable and ethical world, the narrative needs to shift to a conversation about design, and the impacts both good and bad, of those design decisions.
You don't have to go out of your way to buy eco friendly jeans that promise to save the world. Becoming more sustainable can be as easy as committing to wearing your newest purchase at least 30 times.
During my panel at SXSW, I introduced my idea of changing the way we talk about sustainable and ethical fashion with an example of how polyester can actually make a pair of jeans more sustainable. Gasp, how could plastic poly possibly create eco friendly jeans?
Since posting the first teaser of the panel from SXSW on Sustainability and Ethics in Fashion Technology, I have received quite a few questions about how I can argue using polyester could be sustainable. I realized that there is a lot of misinformation out there about textile science and development. So, if you are interested in diving into the world of textile engineering and garment development this weeks post is for you.
the difference between stretch and structure
Stretch comes from elastane or spandex, it gives clothing comfort, and it is what allows us to move freely without limitation or restriction. Structure is achieved by using polyester, it is what gives a garment shape and it prevents bagging and sagging during prolonged wear. Polyester is extremely rigid, not stretchy.
the importance, and limitations, of stretch
When developing the perfect denim there are two testing numbers we look at, they are stretch and recovery. And, by using those two numbers together we are able to calculate a figure called growth.
In wovens, stretch and recovery comes from spandex or elastane. It is measured by how much a garment can be stretched, and then how much it can recover to its original shape. Growth is the difference between the two. By measuring growth we are able to determine performance on how quickly a fabric will lose its stretchy qualities and bag out.
During denim development, while designing textiles there are also lots of other factors to take into account like how quickly the stretch bounces back – does it slowly make its way back like silly putty, or does it spring back like a rubber band, this is called power. Generally, you want your jeans to snap back - those are going to create the best shape. Add onto that tear, tensile strength, wear, pilling, colorfastness, and other standard industry tests, and you have a lot of variables we are able to design into to make a “better” product. But, for the sake of keeping things simple for this article we are going to only focus on stretch, recovery, and structure.
These numbers in denim development are fundamental in determining if a garment will bag out at the knees and butt after one wear. I am sure anyone that has bought cheap denim before has experienced putting on a pair of perfectly fitting jeans in the morning, and by the evening the knees are all loose and wrinkly and your butt looks like you are wearing a diaper. The only solution is tossing them in the wash and drying them so they snap back to their original shape. By designing intelligently, we can prevent this from happening, so you can get more wears out of your pants.
Pants stretch out because the areas of our knees and behind are where all the movement and stretch happens, as we walk, sit, move, and go about our daily business our pants are stretching and returning back to their original shape, eventually the fabric becomes tired and can’t snap back the way it used to.
When we launder those pants the fibers and yarns become relaxed and shift back to their original form. But, the process cannot continue forever, after many cycles of stretching out and laundering eventually those pants will stay saggy and baggy.
It is a common misconception in denim development that more stretch leads to a better product, denim should never have more than 5% stretch, and ideally, 1-3% is more than enough (except in the exception of power stretch). Stretch from elastane or spandex is one of those things where less is usually more.
To date, there is no perfect elastic that stretches back every time and last’s forever, eventually, it wears out.
Spandex and elastane are also very expensive fibers. In my experience, while developing fabrics for fast fashion, stretch is usually the first place we cut costs, either by switching to a lower percentage, removing it all together, or using a lower quality fiber that does not have the same longevity as the expensive stuff.
what about 100% cotton denim?
100% cotton also stretches and bags out.
I have broken in raw denim before, and it is a tedious process. Essentially you need to buy the pants so tight that you can’t even button them. After weeks of daily wear, they will stretch to a comfortable size. But, once you wash them, well you are SOL, and need to start the whole process again.
Committed denim lovers are willing to sacrifice comfort for an authentic style like this, but most people I know that have tried to go raw and selvage end up giving up and those pants sit in their closets and end up getting tossed… seems pretty wasteful if you ask me.
structure picks up where stretch falls short
As explained above, there is no way around baggy knees when you are designing only with cotton and stretch. To mitigate the design flaws of spandex, during denim development we need to turn to materials that can provide structure, and will help the garment retain its shape when spandex becomes fatigued. This is where a bit of polyester can make all the difference.
the first uses of polyester
Historically polyester has been marketed to consumers as an easy-care fabric - easy wear, easy home launder, and it last’s forever.
One of the first mainstream uses for polyester was permanent press and wrinkle-free garments. Because, fundamentally, polyester is a plastic it can be melted to create and hold a shape. The heat inside a home drying machine is typically not hot enough to undo the engineered shape, but the reason most poly clothes have a no iron care label is that they will straight up melt under those conditions.
Don’t believe me? See for yourself. If you have an old poly garment, take a small piece and light it on fire, it will melt and turn to a puddle of molten plastic.
Today we don’t see permanent press as much in pleated pants, but instead in this trend of pleated skirts and dresses.
poly for stability in denim
Paige from Paige Denim said it best all the way back in 2014 - "If it says 70 percent cotton and 30 percent polyester blend, the jeans will hold you in like a girdle. If it's 98 percent cotton, they will stretch and sag."
By using poly, everything is held together. The poly and spandex are able to work together and compliment one another, allowing stretch for comfort and structure for long wear.
According to The Guardian, a load of laundry washed at 40C and dried on the line has a CO2e of 0.7kg. A load of laundry washed, and then tumble dried has a CO2e of 2.4kg. This means that drying alone accounts for over 70% of the eco-footprint of a load of wash. The Guardian goes on to hypothesize that if you did laundry every other day for a year, you would release as much CO2e as taking a flight from London to Glasgow, including taxi rides to and from the airports!
If we can take the same pair of cotton pants that we talked about earlier on, the pair that needs to be washed and dried every time they are worn because they stretch out, and add a bit of poly to help them keep their shape, now they only need to be washed once every 5-10 wears. Jeans made in heavyweights with well-engineered contents can last 10+ years instead of 1 season. Can it not be argued that by using poly we have created a more sustainable garment?
full product lifecycle
It is becoming a common misconception that 100% cotton garments are better when looking at the full garment lifecycle, and how our clothing is processed after we are done wearing it.
When fiber recycling first came out only garments made of one specific fiber could be broken down, blends were out of the question. But today, there are new technologies that are getting really good at breaking down, separating, and reusing blended garments. The thought that 100% fiber content garments are the best solution to post-consumer recycling is old school.
making the product even more sustainable
Just because something is designed sustainably, that does not mean there is no more room for improvement. We need to move away from the notion that there is a final stamp of sustainable and ethical approval and embrace the fact that there is always room for improvement.
using PET recycled poly instead of virgin poly
Instead of designing using virgin poly that requires new petroleum resources, we can use recycled PET poly derived from used water bottles. By opting for recycled we are repurposing waste into a new product.
accounting for microfibers
Another issue with polyester is that when we launder at home, tiny microfibers break off and are released into our oceans. It has become such a problem that "if you are eating fish then you are eating plastic". There are home laundering bags and other easy add-ons that catch the microfibers in your washing machine before they can be released into the environment. So if companies gave these bags away (they are extremely inexpensive to make) with the purchase of the jeans, the product has become, yet, even more sustainable.
there are no right answers
The point of this article isn’t to tell you to only buy polyester blend jeans. The purpose is to get you thinking. How can materials be used to create longer lasting, more sustainable products? When looking for product longevity the answer is not always the obvious one.
Textiles and clothing are much more complex than we often realize. A small change, like the TPI (twist per inch) in a yarn, can create a totally new fabric with completely different properties. Crazy right? Or, using all of the same components and changing the density of a weave or the gauge on a knitting machine we can produce something totally new. The art of textiles is playing with and combining these tiny changes to make better fabrics.
So instead of raising our pitchforks at the mention of poly, let’s start learning about it and discussing what it really means when used intelligently.
Now, you might be asking, what gives me the authority to preach this opinion that goes against much of what the sustainable community believes? I started the first 3 years of my fashion career representing Asian denim mills in the US. I worked with major labels, (check out my customer list here) to develop performance and price sensitive product, learned how to operate testing equipment and do my own testing, and spent weeks inside wash houses learning how to do every job from the science of formulating enzyme wash equations to hand sanding on a bladder. I spent this time, after receiving my degree in Textile Development and Marketing from the Fashion Institute of Technology, learning the science of the industry from fiber selection to garment fit.
This is a photo from 2012 of the first pair of jeans I ever hand sanded - taken via Blackberry (rip) - they are definitly not eco friendly jeans, but I am proud of them non the less.
If you are interested in learning more about textiles and their implications from PhD’s and textile engineers (yes it takes an engineering degree to develop blue jeans) please email us for resources and references.
This week I watched Machines by Rahul Jain, an official selection of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Call me jaded, but recently I haven't been able to get through a fashion industry or environmental doc or article without getting super heated about dramatized, exaggerated, and at times even falsified information. With each film maker, writer, and blogger, competing with one another, not for the truth, but, to generate the most buzz-worthy content by using a liberal policy on what journalism is; I keep finding the most talked about news often leaves me wanting to scream to anyone that will listen.. ‘BUT WAIT, that’s not entirely true!’
my take away
This was not the case with Machines. I was super surprised when I left the film feeling a little bored, I'd seen it all before. Rahul, showed exactly what it is. That is what a typical print house and dye house in India looks like. Nothing was staged or over exaggerated, the audience got exactly what he saw. He did his job as the man behind the lense of a documentary perfectly!
One of my friends who has never been to India and has no idea about how factories, mills, and print and dye houses operate had a completely different takeaway than me. Where I was bored by the same old scenes I have seen so many times IRL, they were shocked by the inhumane conditions, lack of regulations, and general chaos.
I realized that to someone who didn’t understand what was going on, the film could have been a wow, omg, wtf moment. To me, most of it was nothing crazy, excluding the scene with the child falling asleep at the machine, yes, that was horrible. I have always struggled to release the footage I have taken overseas, hell, even some of the stuff that goes on in the states, because general “India” or every day “factory operations” and real poverty or real unsafe work condition can be visually confusing if you aren’t already accustomed to, and have experienced the terrain.
I know the article that most people would expect me to write would be “Oh, this is so horrible”. But, there is something even more interesting at play here and something that is part of a much larger conversation. The lack of narration created a need for clarification on what was just typical India and manufacturing (that goes on even here in the states) and what was sub par factory conditions. There is a difference.
So to help anyone who left Machines with questions or concerns here are some of my annotations.
Barefeet and flip flops
Let’s start with the synopsis on the Film Forum website “in which men and children work 12-hour days for a pittance, some barefoot, some in flip-flops”. This, literally, makes me roll my eyes - it's is a prime example of everyday India being confused with poverty and workers rights. Chappals (Hindi for flip flops) are the norm in many places. In the factory I use for my line virtue + vice I work barefoot, that's right I use the bathroom without shoes too. Business meeting with suppliers; no shoes in the office. When I visit the print houses and dye houses, I go in my flip flops (check out my video to see me in all my flip flop glory). Everyone in rural and even urban India wears sandals it’s just what people do. Their choice of shoe is not a clue to the state of factory conditions, it is a reflection of culture.
No regulations, no safety precautions, and general chaos
Yes, yes, and yes.
India is a place with tons of laws and a very conservative religious population, but it’s also the wild west where anything goes. It’s everything and nothing at once. Most people initial reaction to India while visiting for the first time is, this would never happen in America.
Anything can seem crazy if you don’t know what you're looking at. When I looked around the all white and affluent audience I realized most of the people there didn’t know what hard labor in a factory setting looked like. They probably would have had the same emotional response to a film made just through the tunnel in one of New Jersey's many factories…
*** Again, I hope my video and this article can help to clear up any confusion about what exactly was happening.
So, while there are limited regulations, what seemed like no safety regarding chemical handling, exposure, and waste, and the conditions looked inhumane; it all just looked pretty standard to me. No one was in immediate grave danger. That's what print houses and dye houses look like in India.
But then again, my housekeeper also burns all of our trash in a giant open fire in our backyard once a week, how the house hasn’t burned down yet I still don’t know.
Should there be more regulations and safety precautions, definitely. Do the workers want them? That is hard to say, I am not sure. Let’s look at the case for motor bike helmets, in most states helmets are legally required. 141,000 people die each year on the road in India. But, no one wears a helmet. If they have helmets they keep their helmets on the sides of their bikes or by their feet on scooters until they see a cop, then pretend to be wearing it. Could this potentially be the case if safety procedure were introduced into factories? Maybe.
While there is no question, in my mind, that education and safety should be introduced, we need to remember there are bigger cultural factors at play. Like, what is the norm, not just in this line of work but, in all threads of life. Changes are happening, people are recycling instead of burning, more helmets are being worn, and factories are becoming safer, but it is a slow process and one that is not unique to manufacturing alone.
12-hour shifts, without breaks
Let’s start with the positives. They weren’t locked in the factory and held prisoner against their will for the entire shift like the Rana Plaza factory collapse, so that’s a good thing. It also seemed to me like they were able to take breaks. There were multiple shots of workers sleeping in piles of fabric and on the floor. To me, based on what I have seen, this means they were on break. No, they don’t live in the factories. It is common to see people plop down and sleep just about anywhere when they have a short break, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. I’m no stranger to a nap or two on the factory floor when the heat and jet lag really set in. Here is a photo of me relaxing under a truck that was going to transport a shipping container full of clothes to the port.
12 hour shifts are long. I interned in a wash house in NY. They had me doing everything you saw in the movie and more. Those days were the hardest and longest of my life, when they were overall I could do was go home and sleep. But, from those seemingly never-ending days, I took away a lesson that has shaped my career. It is to think about the people doing the work. Too often I see bosses, sitting behind desks, unaware of how things are done, belting orders and dolling threats. Never considering what their unrealistic deadlines and cost cuts mean to the people they have never seen or met. Maybe if these big shots spent a day in factory workers shoes, and they saw what it was like, real change could happen.
From the way the workers were speaking it sounded like they were being paid by shift and not hourly. I think that if they were paid hourly some people would actually be interested in the overtime. Me personally, I could never do it, 8 hours had me beat, but I also don't have a family to feed. People leave their homes and travel across the country to get work, so it would make sense that some people would want to work as much as they physically could while they were away before returning home. I think the main argument here is not so much how many hours of work are allowed (some people might want more if they are paid well), but that they should be paid fairly and overtime should be an option, not a requirement just to receive a base salary.
More on wages
To me, one of the most enraging moments of the film was the owner saying that the workers should not be paid more, because then they won’t work and will waste their extra money away. Let’s get something straight. These people are living in extreme poverty, in densely populated areas, without running water, waste treatment, and sometimes not enough food to go around. What would they do with the extra money, I don’t know guy, maybe live in a place where they have a fucking toilet so they don’t have to go outside in the gutter in the front of their house (I use the term house here liberally, most people in the states would not consider what they live in a house), or eat something besides bhaji and dal? There is no question these people are underpaid.
At one point a worker says he is not being exploited because he is there on his own free will. But, he is being exploited. The factory owners know that he needs the money and will work for anything, because a low paying job is better than no job at all, they do not have to give them a fair wage. And in India there is no shortage of labor, if you won't work for the rate, someone else will. To me, and I think most of us, that is exploitation. It’s not like the factory owners aren’t turning a profit, some of these guys are among the richest in India.
So what can we do…
The part that really got me was the group of workers saying. What are you going to do now? You come see our problems, and leave. Why won’t you help us? Well Rahul, besides spreading awareness through your film, what have you been doing? If you do not affect action you are no better than the sorority girls that go to Africa with the sole purpose to take a new Facebook profile photo with a black orphan.
Rahul, you did it. You have our attention, we all want to help. But, what do we do? Where is the direction for the future? Without it, the film just seems like a self-indulgent dive into the world of poor people, something to talk about over beers and make us sound more interesting and worldly.
Encourage people to buy their clothes from factories that pay a fair wage, the more people that want those types of products the more fair work there will be in these countries because fair wage factories need orders to stay open, and the more orders they have the more people they can hire.
Some little things you might have missed
The flood scene is just monsoon. It’s totally normal. It rains every day for about 1/2 the year, then the other 1/2 the year it is dry. And when it rains, it floods. But, life carries on.
This photo was taken from one of my fabric mill suppliers homes during monsoon flooding. Just another day at the office in Ahmedabad.
What was happening with the kids and the garbage? The kids were looking for bits of scrap metal to sell for money. Why though? I am not quite sure. To me, this scene looked staged. They were far too clean, their hair brushed, and their clothes were much too nice for them to be street beggars. But, hypothetically yes, if they were beggars they could have made some money selling the scrap metal. This is what begging children look like.
Begging Children in Pushkar, India - YouTube
How does everything work, what were all those machines actually doing?
My friends final thoughts were, what exactly was going on? How does everything work? And to answer that I made a short video with some of my own footage. It’s not as fancy as Machines, I’m not a filmmaker, all I had was my iphone. But, if you're interested on what it was you were seeing, check it out.
We all know the breast cancer awareness clothing and ribbons, and kitschy copy “save second base”. While we at virtue + vice fully support raising awareness for important causes like cancers, human rights, and saving the world, today we are challenging the way we as a society spread that awareness.
This weeks blog post explores the irony of the gear companies sell us in order to show our breast cancer support.
isn’t it ironic...
the making of breast cancer awareness clothing exposes factory workers to known carcinogens and could even be increasing your own cancer risk?
What goes into making these charity shirts? You would be surprised by the level of toxins in clothing. Typically they are mass produced as quickly and cheaply as possible. Poisonous and carcinogenic pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides are doused on chemical resistant GMO cotton plants. According to The United Nations, it is estimated there about 200,000 acute poisoning DEATHS each year are caused by pesticide use, 99% of them occurring in developing countries. And, it has been found that several cancers, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, hormone disruption, developmental disorders, and sterility are all linked to the chemicals used. Many of these chemicals are actually banned in the West, but in India, farmers go barefoot and without face masks spraying the fields.
After the cotton is harvested, knit into fabric, and sewn into a shirt - toxic and carcinogenic substances are used to dye and print them. This usually takes place in poorly ventilated dye and print houses. Not only are the people who work in the factories negatively affected, but also the communities where the toxic waste is released into local water sources.
Common dyes which were once thought to be safe, have recently been found to be harmful to the wearer, with the release of chemicals increasing when the clothing becomes wet, like when you are working out... so wearing that shirt to an awareness run/walk might not be the best idea, because your shirt to find a cure for cancer might actually be increasing your cancer odds.
breast cancer month makeup and cosmetics have known carcinogens in them?
It’s not just the fashion industry. The beauty industry is a culprit too. If you search the ingredients of many of the breast cancer awareness makeup products promoted in October you will see that most of them contain known carcinogens. A great app that breaks down what is in your beauty products and how harmful those ingredients are to you is Think Dirty. The next time you buy a beauty product that promotes a cancer charity, scan it into the app and see if they are part of the solution, or are really just perpetuating the problem.
So what can we do?
Change the way we participate.
Skip the $20 t-shirt and donate that $20 to the charity directly. More money ends up going to the cause that way, and you are not buying into toxic manufacturing systems that harm workers and you. You don't need the shirt to know you did something good; so skip it.
Make ethically and sustainably.
Support charities that make a quality product with organic cotton, low impacts dyes, and cruelty-free and noncarcinogenic components and ingredients and do not support toxins in clothing. Take to social media, and ask the charities if the breast cancer awareness clothing and accessories they are making contribute to positive change in every step of their supply chains.
We don't want to call anyone out here, but, do a quick google search for companies that promote the use of deadstock and remember this industry insider information before you buy into the hype.
what is deadstock fashion? and, what does deadstock mean?
So, what is deadstock? And, what does deadstock mean? Deadstock refers to old fabric that hasn’t been able to sell. Maybe there are small damages, maybe the company who purchased it ordered too much, or maybe there is a small little-known industry secret.
what is the argument for deadstock fabric being eco-friendly?
The thought process goes, that because this fabric is extra, if it is not rescued by “eco” brands it will end up in a landfill. Therefore they are doing the world an environmental justice by making “waste” into fashion.
myth debunked – what’s really happening…
Dying, knitting, weaving, and printing require huge, complex machines. Some ranges can take up entire city blocks, and take multiple people to operate. It takes a lot of man power to turn off the machines, clean them, set them up for the next fabric, and then run a new fabric. It is cheaper for mills to produce extra fabric that they plan to sell at a discount than to shut the machines off after the order is fulfilled.
This means that in their basic costing, mills plan to sell x percent at full price and y percent at a discounted deadstock price. At no point are they calculating a percent going to the landfill. Remember mills are in the business of making money, not wasting it.
If the mills can't sell the fabric then they will pass it onto a jobber. The most famous of them is probably Mood, based in NYC. Shops like this take the yardage that won't sell at the mill level, mark it up for a premium and sell it to small designers and home sewers. I wouldn't call jobbers eco-friendly, they are just another cog in the fashion supply chain. Again, fashion is a business, that makes money. The last thing that anyone would want is to lose money by sending fabric to a landfill. It would sit in storage for years before that happened.
so what’s the big deal?
It's a great model for mills, it helps them to run efficiently. But, it is not an ethical model for a clothing brand that markets themselves as eco-friendly – it’s taking advantage of consumers lack of manufacturing knowledge.
By buying deadstock fashion you are buying into the concept of overproduction. And don’t let those greenwashers fool you. Most of the deadstock is meant for local markets, not for export. Rest assured that this fabric was never intended to end up in a landfill, it most likely would end up making lower price clothing for a third world economy.
"Western markets simply don’t matter as much as they used to. India produces twice as much clothing for its own consumers as it does for us. Fifty-six percent of the clothing produced in China is for the Chinese market. Both of those numbers are only going to grow." - Michael Hobbes for The Huffington Post
If you are ok with this kind of environmental b.s. think about this - Deadstock fabric is sold for a heavy discount so mills can get rid of it, fashion companies then mark up the price under the “eco” or "vintage" label so they are doubly inflating their margins, and you the consumer is getting double screwed.
I literally walked through warehouse after warehouse of fabric, but, remember... there is a plan for all this
what are better options to dead stock fabric?
if you care about keeping fabric out of landfills, then don’t buy as much - the less clothing you buy the less you will throw away, and the less that will end up in a landfill
buy second hand - one man's waste is another's treasure, give new life to a pre owned garment
buy directly from small artisans - who make in small batches so there is no waste
deadstock for small brands - the pros
Deadstock is a great option for brands just starting out. Because the fabric is already made, there are no minimums. This makes it easy for designers that are small and self-funded to buy a few yards, and not have to invest capital into fabric they may not need.
the craziest deadstock I ever saw...
but first, let me take a selfie - with all of this block printed deadstock fabric
Did you know that there are some US importers that actually sell THIS VERY FABRIC as "vintage"? One meter costs me about 300 rupies (less than $5), and I have seen it sold in NYC for over $500! Buyer beware!
It seems like in the past 5-6 years an influx of vintage denim, bomber jackets, and t-shirts have made their way to local street markets and thrift stores, and yet, somehow all the products look eerily similar. How is it that all of these hipster curators came to acquire such large sums of vintage clothing in the past few years and why does it all have a uniform look?
Spoiler: It’s because it’s all fake!
what is happening?
It’s all coming from Cambodia and Thailand, and it’s all been made in the past few years. Cambodia and Thailand are known for their superior knockoffs. Knock-offs are part of their culture and in some travelers opinions, part of the fun in shopping the street markets.
but how does it all look vintage if it’s new?
Here is what's happening, first, new clothes are made in Cambodia's cheap factories using scraps of material from other orders, or leftover aka deadstock, fabric from customer orders. Then the clothes are given to agriculture workers to wear in the fields as a “uniform”, sometimes they are paid a small amount. The clothing is worn and not washed for about 1 - 3 months. After a few months of manual labor and field work, the clothes have that 20-year vintage look. They are commercially washed and are ready to be sold as vintage.
Many of these vintage jeans are actually sold in giant bags by the pound! That’s how rare they are (insert eye roll here), they sell them by the pound! They are brought back to the US by some savvy importers and are distributed, and redistributed under a vintage markup price. Most of the sellers at street fairs and boutiques have no idea where the clothes really came from - we’re looking at you Brooklyn Flea.
so what's the big deal?
With sustainable fashion on the rise, it has become a popular opinion in the blogosphere that buying vintage is the shopaholics answer to revamping their closet. And it could be, if the clothes are actually vintage. Repurposing something has a lighter footprint than buying something new, but that's not what is happening here.
The process taking place in Cambodia and Thailand is part of the problem of overproduction and overconsumption that contributes to the 14 million tons of clothing that will end up in the landfill each year. Not to mention it can be argued that the workers forced to wear the jeans for the manufacturer's profit are being exploited.
how can you tell a fake?
Unless you are an expert in vintage fashion, it’s pretty hard. Often the trims and tags are a giveaway. Here is a great article from loomstate about spotting fake Levis
We recommend buying vintage in shops that specialize in the history of fashion and are experts in spotting fakes.
If you are buying vintage as a way to reuse fashions and to try and be part of the waste solution, the local street fair is not the place to buy into the recycled fashion practice. Do your research before purchasing.