Sourcing A Decent Shirt Factory: Our Journey
One of the first steps to build our business was to find a reliable, cost-effective factory (with great sustainable working conditions) that could produce our men's and women's shirts to the strict quality standards we require. Today we are going to share a little bit about the challenges we faced and the successes we achieved throughout the process.
Let’s get started.
Clothing Factories In The UK
As a proud British business, we try to create all of our products in the UK wherever possible. Naturally, this meant that the first step on our journey was to try and locate a suitable factory here in the UK.
We narrowed down our search to a handful of respectable factories and began our analysis. However, we were disappointed by what we encountered. One of the biggest issues was that the quality of stitching was generally very poor compared to what we expected.
Note: We are almost certain this was due to the machines and equipment being outdated due to underinvestment, we know that British tailors are some of the most highly skilled in the world.
Additionally, with some factories, delivery times were “flexible” to say the least. This meant that customer deliveries would occasionally be later than scheduled. Obviously, this was a big red line for us.
Overall we found a few factories that were “Ok”, but none that were excellent. So we decided to start searching farther afield.
Garment Factories in Poland
Our next stop was Poland. We had heard excellent things about the garment manufacturing base in the country and wanted to see what the fuss was about first hand.
When we arrived and looked around several factories, the standard was lower than we expected and in many we were shocked, to say the least.
There were several where the safety conditions were disgraceful. Sights of empty rolls of material lying around on the floor very close to the cutting tables and active rotary cutters were just the start of the problems. At this moment we already knew these places weren’t going to be the right place for us to produce our shirts, so we hoped for better in other factories.
The next factory we visited is a very large producer of some well-known brands, as such the quality of their products is impeccable. However, this also means that there is zero tolerance for mistakes. The factory owner who was walking us around the factory floor noticed a mistake being made, and the situation got extremely “tense”.
She was standing right in front of us shouting and screaming (at the top of her voice) at her visibly shaken and scared staff. The factory went into panic mode with everyone running around trying to avoid her wrath.
We are a company that prides ourselves on creating ethical shirts made using ethical production processes. Needless to say, we made our excuses and cut the tour short. We returned to the UK disheartened but determined to find the perfect place.
Clothing Production in Turkey
One of our connections had alerted us to a potential factory in Turkey that sounded just like the kind of thing we were looking for. We booked a meeting and flew out. We had never really considered Turkey as a manufacturing base, so we were a little bit unsure as to what to expect.
From the moment we met with the factory owner we were impressed. Before we arrived we already knew that the factory produced clothing for some of the most exclusive (and expensive) Italian fashion houses in the world. So we were already fairly confident they could deliver the kind of quality we were looking for.
It was the working conditions that sealed the deal for us in the end. The owner was incredibly friendly and his rapport with the workers was genuinely respectful and appreciative, this was evident as many of the staff had been working in the factory for decades!
The factory floor was clean and safe, and after visiting several different factories it was clear to us that this was a happy, family run place that was exactly the kind of thing we were looking for.
We continue to work with this factory in Turkey and have been incredibly satisfied with the quality and reliability of their work.
We even make surprise visits from time to time to check that the working conditions we were shown in the initial tour were truly representative of how things actually are there.
Every time we make one of these surprise visits we end up leaving happier than the last.
Achieving A High Quality Ethical Supply Chain
The result of this long journey was a reliable, ethical supply chain that so far is yet to even slightly disappoint us.
We know how important it is for customers to be able to buy from brands that know their supply chain personally (to avoid nasty surprises). This is just a small example of the lengths we go to so we can ensure our customers get the reliable high quality they have come to expect from us time and time again.