shop local, excepting this well-traveled t-shirt that says "shop local."
January 29, 2014 11:30 AM   Subscribe

Help me source the perfect grungy t-shirt that's made in USA (as close to VA as possible) so that when my company prints "shop local" on it, they're actually shopping local.

My local company has differentiated itself from its competition by walking the talk. We put substantial resources into the local community - not just money but tons of time, expertise, leveraging other resources, etc. Sustainable change, one project/person/nonprofit at a time. We've been recognized nationally and locally for our efforts.

So we're planning to print t-shirts with a variation of the "shop local" theme. Our staff will wear them, we'll give them away at events, etc. CEO has a very specific design he wants, and it's the sort of mottled/faded red seen here. However, our regular vendor is sourcing shirts from Guatemala, Honduras, etc., and everyone is ok with them. I said WAIT, guys: this matters! let me source some U.S.-made shirts first!. I am the only one bothered by this but our target market is made up of people like me, who will look at the tag to see if we are walking the talk! And they're the ones who will be vocal about it.

So there are plenty of USA-made shirts but I can only find blanks as your standard solid-color shirts, not the casual faded look CEO wants. Please hope me keep my company from making an expensive public mistake.
posted by headnsouth to Shopping (16 answers total)
I should add, money matters. We can't spend $20/shirt at American Apparel.
posted by headnsouth at 11:31 AM on January 29, 2014

FWIW, American Apparel shirts are much cheaper wholesale. I think this is their current price list. Obviously your t-shirt printer is going to mark up the cost for labor/printing/profit but it's not going to cost you $20/shirt.

Also another thing to do to manage cost is to keep the design to one color, one side of the shirt.
posted by radioamy at 11:38 AM on January 29, 2014

Are you aware that American Apparel has a wholesale site?
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:38 AM on January 29, 2014

Also you should call some local printing shops and find out what their pricing is and what wholesale brands they offer.
posted by radioamy at 11:39 AM on January 29, 2014

Nth wholesale AA; when I used to buy blanks from them, the single-color and the 50/50 track shirts were under $5 when purchased in qty over a dozen.

Also look at Alternative Apparel but not all of their line is MUSA.
posted by a halcyon day at 11:40 AM on January 29, 2014

I do not see anything at AA that is the style my CEO is looking for as linked above. And we will have them printed locally.
posted by headnsouth at 11:44 AM on January 29, 2014

Alternative Apparel makes a burnout tee that looks like the one in the photo. Some of their shirts are USA made, but I'm not sure if it's clear which. Worth looking into.
posted by Jairus at 11:49 AM on January 29, 2014

Call Spiritex, based in NC. Don't know what their wholesale prices are like, but worth checking.
posted by rikschell at 11:50 AM on January 29, 2014

These guys might not have the right shirts for you, but it's worth checking out: Sundog Productions. They're right down the street from us in NOVA :)
posted by brilliantine at 12:20 PM on January 29, 2014

Given that your target market seems to consist of folks passionate about this issue, why not reach out to them for recommendations?
posted by Doofus Magoo at 12:58 PM on January 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I work for a screen printing company. The company you're working with is going to source from who your company tells them to source. Sounds like step one is to get your people on the same page about what you want, then communicate that to your vendor. They're sourcing foreign because it's like 99% of the market, it's a lot cheaper, and they're afraid of losing your business on price and/or selection. Ringing in a different company to quote domestic alternatives isn't particularly fair. You'll wind up with two different quotes (apples and oranges), a lot of time wasted, and then your own company will have to decide whether to spend more money to get domestic product (I guarantee it will cost more). Why not get your heads together and decide the foreign versus domestic question up front?
posted by randomkeystrike at 1:05 PM on January 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

Homage is based in Ohio and all their stuff is American-made. They have t-shirts in this color of red. Their wholesale department might be able to get them in blank for you. I don't see any plain t-shirts on their website.
posted by jabes at 1:18 PM on January 29, 2014

I would ask your screen printer directly, as randomkeystrike says (people getting screen printing done aren't supposed to order wholesale from sites like American Apparel anyway, but buy through the printer). Show them your example of the heathered/vintage tee, and tell them you want to see some options made in the US. I think AA does have some options like what you're looking for, and the printer will probably know of others.
posted by three_red_balloons at 1:19 PM on January 29, 2014

Royal Apparel's Triblend is made in the USA and has the right kind of look but... doesn't come in red. They do wholesale (in fact, Metafilter t-shirts are Royal Apparel).
posted by zsazsa at 1:38 PM on January 29, 2014

This style from American Apparel comes in a mottled red, but darker than your example.

This style from Goodwear USA comes in a red that is more similar; no idea as to its wholesale availability.
posted by enn at 2:37 PM on January 29, 2014

We went with word of mouth to the best local screenprinter, sourced not local but fair-wage-produced shirts, and cobranded the tag to say "printed locally by company x for company y." Worked out nicely, thanks all.
posted by headnsouth at 12:30 PM on May 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

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