Now, I love a good graphic tee. Could be snarky. Could be sweet. Doesn’t matter. Either way, it’s a good way to tell people how you feel without the awkwardness of actually having to tell people how you feel.
But as a former knit top buyer for a fast fashion company I can also say that, in my experience, graphic tees were some of the worst offenders when it came to ethical production.
Number one, we often looked for the cheapest fabric that didn’t feel super cheap. This usually meant some sort of polyester (i.e. plastic) blend. ‘Nough said.
Number two, we churned these puppies out fast — we could place a graphic tee order and have it in our store in 4 weeks (or less if it was a reorder screen). Which means that you can bet your bottom dollar that the sewing quality wouldn’t even last as long as the trendy saying we were trying to capitalize on. It also means that, due to the quick turn, some factory worker somewhere was probably given an unreasonable deadline which probably lead to some long hours for probably not fair pay.
Number three, I can’t even tell you what kinds of inks and chemicals were used to print the graphics on some of those tees so quickly and so cheaply. But I can guarantee that they weren’t very toxin-free or earth friendly.
And that’s not even getting into the fact that most of the screen houses we worked with were probably knocking off artwork left and right.
All that said, I still have a great appreciation for a good graphic tee. Being able to make a statement without actually saying a word gets a lot of acclaim in my book. And that is why I’ve searched high and low, near and far on the interwebs to find some of the best statement making tees out there that are also made in an ethical fashion. Some also give back to a great cause. And that’s something I’d gladly scream from the rooftops…or at least wear a t-shirt that would do the equivalent.
How do you feel about graphic tees? Love ’em or hate ’em? Any favorite brands that make them in an ethical fashion?