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The essential white tee, made in Detroit from a custom organic fabric. We're hiring former inmates and backing our tees for life.
The essential white tee, made in Detroit from a custom organic fabric. We're hiring former inmates and backing our tees for life.
The essential white tee, made in Detroit from a custom organic fabric. We're hiring former inmates and backing our tees for life.
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177 backers pledged $30,748 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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The Heirloom Tee by Lazlo

$30,748

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Lazlo is a response to a system that says making cheap goods and fueling consumption is the pathway to success. We know this narrative comes at a cost to our communities and our planet, so we’re making menswear that tells a different story. It starts with a tee unlike any you’ve ever worn.

  • MADE BY FORMER INMATES. We believe people deserve a second chance, and that includes access to employment. We are working with the state to hire formerly incarcerated men who were trained to sew while in Michigan prisons. In addition, we are partnering with local non-profits to provide wraparound services. 
  • CREATING LIVING WAGE JOBS IN DETROIT. We are reacting to an industry where material goods are often disconnected from where they are made and who made them. We feel strongly about creating a personal connection with every item we produce, and about fairly compensating our team. We will be starting with a minimum wage of $15/hr. 
  •  BACKED FOR LIFE. Truly sustainable production means designing garments that will be as appealing years down the road as they are today—and then constructing those garments to last that long. We offer a lifetime guarantee and challenge you to wear out your Heirloom Tee! 
  • (RE)DYED IN INDIGO. The Heirloom Tee is available hand-dyed in natural indigo. To extend the lifespan of our shirts, we’re also offering indigo re-dyeing. Send in your stained or faded white shirt and we will hand-dye it in indigo for you. 
  • IN PURSUIT OF THE PERFECT TEE. While sustainability and social impact are core values for our brand, we think they're most meaningful when combined with a product that we're just as passionate about. We set out to create the perfect white tee; we’ve developed a custom fabric using the best organic cotton available, tested dozens of fits and obsessed over every detail.

Because the t-shirt has been done so many times, the easiest way to make our garment stand out would be to do something bold, but what we really wanted to do was to pay attention to the subtle details. We’re always looking to simplify, so each adjustment has to add value and be done very consciously.

The slightly curved hem and the side vent encourage the drape of our slightly longer, slimmer fit. The relaxed neckline allows us to use the same fabric for the body and the collar.

We spent a year developing a custom fabric using extra-long staple Supima® cotton, grown in the American Southwest. Supima cotton represents the top 3% of the US cotton crop, and only 1% of Supima is organic. We were told we were on a wild goose chase to find organic Supima as a new company, but were able to develop a partnership with a yarn spinner in Switzerland and a mill in LA.

To stay true to the workwear roots of the white tee, we created a 6.5oz jersey using 100% organic Supima cotton. We compacted the yarn and prewashed the fabric to prevent shrinkage; it’s built to be worn, with a soft hand that will only get better with each wear.

If we reach our fundraising goal, our next run of fabric will be made entirely in the US. Nearly all of the organic Supima cotton is sent overseas for processing and manufacturing, but with a larger order, we will be able to have the yarn spun at a top facility in Georgia.

We are committed to toxin-free production from farm to finished product. In addition to using organic cotton, we will be hand-dyeing garments in natural indigo. Each shirt will be made in white, and some will then be dipped 10+ times by hand in an indigo bath. It’s a traditional practice that goes back thousands of years and leads to a rich finish. Each shirt will be unique and will age beautifully.

We are setting up production in Detroit, the heart of American manufacturing. We are currently in the process of building out our space at Ponyride. It’s a 30,000-square-foot foreclosed building in the historic Corktown neighborhood that has been transformed into a collaborative space and creative incubator for socially conscious businesses. Detroit boasts a do-it-yourself attitude and a creative community unlike any we’ve been a part of. There is no other place we would rather be.

Setting up our own production facilities will allow us to deliver you a product that meets the highest standards for quality. It also creates a personal connection to every order that goes out the door.

There’s a reason we’re calling our first offering the Heirloom Tee; we feel so strongly about our materials and construction that if it doesn’t meet your expectations for durability, we will repair, refund or replace it free of charge. 

We believe everyone deserves access to living wage jobs and will have a company minimum wage of $15 per hour.

Lazlo founder Christian Birky has an academic background in prison policy, and has spent time tutoring in prisons. When he learned that the Michigan Department of Corrections has sewing programs within state prisons, he saw an opportunity to hire trained sewers who would otherwise face tremendous barriers to finding employment. Lazlo will be hiring formerly incarcerated men as part of our team in Detroit.

If disposable fast fashion made by exploiting workers and the environment is at one end of the spectrum, it is our goal to push as far as we can in the opposite direction. We are focused on creating the best possible product and developing a business model where every decision is considered for its potential impact on the people and environment around us.

We designed the Heirloom Tee with a slim, tailored fit. If you are between sizes or like a looser fit, we suggest you size up.

Note: While we've designed the fabric to minimize any shrinkage, shirts will shrink up to 3% during the indigo dyeing process. Our indigo shirts will fit just slightly smaller, but unless you are exactly between sizes, this will not be enough to affect what size you order.

Proper care will allow you to get the most from your Lazlo garments and significantly reduce your impact on the environment. Wash garments in a cold, gentle cycle with a small amount of natural detergent. Lay flat or hang to dry. If you prefer to use a dryer, use a low heat setting. Using fabric softeners and high heat will break down the cotton fibers more quickly.

For repairs and re-dyeing, you are responsible for shipping costs to us. We will cover the cost of returning back to you. International customers will be responsible for shipping costs both ways. Repairs due to product quality (fabric or construction) will be on us. For repairs due to normal wear and tear (ie. you catch your shirt while hopping a fence or rip it on a nail), we will charge a small fee to cover our costs.*

To extend the lifespan of your Heirloom Tee, if your white tee gets stained over time, you can send it back to us and we’ll hand-dye it in indigo for the cost of labor. Instead of becoming a disposable item, it becomes a fresh blue tee. Shirts may shrink up to 3% in the dyeing process.*

*We will begin offering these services early 2016 once our Detroit facility is fully functional.

Disclaimer: All product images are of samples. We reserve the right to make small changes (improvements) as we go through production.

Risks and challenges

The Lazlo team has worked for the past 20+ months to get to a point were we feel very confident that we can deliver. We’ve worked through many of the sourcing and production kinks through test runs and have carefully selected partners that share our values.

I’ve worn iterations of the Heirloom Tee nearly every day for past year, and earlier this year we did a test run of shirts with friends and family. We’ve taken feedback from these and applied it to the latest version.

We are surrounded by a team of experts with decades of experience in fashion, marketing and entrepreneurship. We know that hiccups happen, so we built extra time into our delivery schedule.

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    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    A VOTE OF SUPPORT

    Building momentum for a better way of doing business.

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    EARLY ADOPTER

    Personal thank you note and access to our next items before anyone else.

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    LUNCH WITH LAZLO

    Lunch in Detroit with the Lazlo team. We will be coordinating small groups to dine together and share updates on Lazlo.

    Meal included.

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    Pledge $120 or more About $120

    EARLY BIRD SPECIAL

    The essential white tee, made in Detroit by former inmates from organic Supima® cotton and backed for life.

    One white Heirloom Tee. XS-XXL.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    EARLY BIRD SPECIAL

    The essential tee, made in Detroit by former inmates from organic Supima® cotton and backed for life. Hand-dyed in natural indigo.

    One indigo Heirloom Tee. XS-XXL.

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    Pledge $167 or more About $167

    The essential white tee, made in Detroit by former inmates from organic Supima® cotton and backed for life.

    One white Heirloom Tee. XS-XXL.

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    Pledge $198 or more About $198

    The essential tee, made in Detroit by former inmates from organic Supima® cotton and backed for life. Hand-dyed in natural indigo.

    One indigo Heirloom Tee. XS-XXL.

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    Pledge $350 or more About $350

    Two tees, made in Detroit by former inmates from organic Supima® cotton and backed for life.

    One white Heirloom Tee and one indigo Heirloom Tee. XS-XXL.

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    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    Find your way to Detroit and spend the day with the Lazlo team. Visit our production facility, preview products in the pipeline and get a personal tour of the best of Detroit. Receive an Heirloom Tee in each color.

    Meals included. Lodging and travel not included.

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    Pledge $3,000 or more About $3,000

    Dye for a day in Detroit. Find your way to Detroit and learn about indigo dyeing. Hand-dye three Heirloom Tees for yourself.

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    Find your way to Detroit and spend the day with the Lazlo team. Visit our production facility, preview products in the pipeline and get a personal tour of the best of Detroit.

    Five Heirloom Tees with a custom pattern and a personal fitting with our production team.

    Meals included. Lodging and travel not included.

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Funding period

- (26 days)