Every year we produce millions of t-shirts. You probably have a few well loved tees, and maybe a couple souvenir t-shirts from your travels, sports events, concerts, etc - we all do. T-shirts are an iconic, essential piece of clothing but, from crop to shop, they carry a pretty hefty environmental burden.
The thing is, factory made t-shirts yield up to 40% wastage. That means 40% of that cotton is grown in vain and huge amounts of water and earth resources are wasted, not to mention spinning the yarn, transporting the fabric, factory labour ... you get the idea.
It's taken years of hard work and research but we've come up with a clever design and production model to mass produce t-shirts using those leftovers.
(Yes folks, we now generate so much waste fabric that we can actually mass produce new garments from the huge amount of factory leftovers.)
We can offer the up-shirts to sports events, music festivals, NGOs and other organisations who often order thousands, even tens of thousands of t-shirts. Instead of putting big pressure on the environment, let's aim for big quantities without the pressure! (And by the way, it doesn't have to be the tee in the picture, we can make anything).
The back story
Recently Reet completed her PhD in sustainable fashion design. Her research took her to Bangladesh, where she began working with a factory called Beximco. Beximco make garments for many well known brands, and in the process accumulate a LOT of waste fabrics. But Reet didn't see a mountain of garbage, she saw treasure! And she set to work.
Reet gathered her team of experts, and together we took cutting leftovers (8-30%), roll ends (1-10%) and over production (3-5%) and got creative. The result is the up-shirt.
Now we have a strong partnership with Beximco. They are ‘vertically integrated’, which means that all steps of the production are done in one place. Their production and supply chain is transparent, and they are cooperating with the International Labour Organisation to pay their workers triple the industry standard salary. They also have a very progressive environmental programme and go above and beyond when it comes to community and employee care.
You can read more about Beximco here, and why we like them.
People power! By giving us your support to produce these up-shirts you are also lending us your voice. Once made, this batch of mass produced up-shirts will prove not only that this eco friendly production model works, but also that consumers want their clothes made responsibly, without harming the planet or exploiting people. That's an important message to send the fashion industry.
It's also important because making garments responsibly can come with a slightly higher price tag. And while the up-shirt is competitively priced, it won't ever be the cheapest one available because it takes a little longer to make each one, and we want every up-shirt to be made well by people who will be paid and treated fairly.
If we can show the world mass upcycling works, we could really change how the fashion industry treats the environment.
Each style is available in men's or women's styles, with the women's fit offering a wider neck and subtle shaped fit. The men's styles have a more snug neckline and straight slim fit.
The women's up-shirts come in a light cotton or cotton/poly mix, and the men's come in a heavier polo cotton - but that's just what we like, you're very welcome to mix things up!
No arrow? Nor problem! As we are flexible in the design we are offering also plain shirts without the arrow symbol on them.
We are also sampling these so once we're funded we'll able to offer backers a really nice selection of rewards to choose from.
Base colours are white, black or grey for the arrow shirts - and the arrows can be in any colour available. For the 'plain up's' all kinds of mixes are possible. We'll let you know if other colours come, it always depends on the material waste.
So tell us what you like when pledging for an award and we'll try to match it. After the campaign is finished, we will collect your size wishes: women S-XL; men S-XXL
How will the Kickstarter funds be spent?
Firstly, the money raised here will pay the people who work at the Beximco factory in Bangladesh. The sewers and factory hands that work with us on this project also benefit from valuable training in up-cycling techniques, and we all exchange knowledge and ideas about how to protect the natural environment around the factory.
Any leftover funds will go towards travel costs to and from Bangladesh, shipping the up-shirts to all you lovely backers, and hopefully cover some of the other costs around marketing this project and getting these up-shirts produced. Please feel free to get in touch if you want a more precise breakdown.
We've already talked about Reet enough (see above), and we're a modest bunch so we'll keep this brief, but in case you're wondering who 'the team' is...
Markus Vihma makes all the tables and charts and graphics that we pretend to read.
Ann Runnel - probably easier to list what she doesn't do ...
Aili Aamisepp does technical pattern design and production, ie clever cutting and sewing!
Rain does visual brand identity type stuff, but mainly we just like his name.
Siim is new so he makes tea. And does sales.
Priit is, well ... he just showed up one day and started bossing everyone around. He keeps talking about 'business strategy' and 'finances' but we're too busy making up-shirts to listen.
Mica Lamb is in charge of telling the world about up-shirts. I have a very loud voice. I'm the one in the 'bio' up there on the right.
Risks and challenges
Beximco is a BIG factory and there's PLENTY of waste fabric. But because we don't order in the fabric, there is a small risk of delay if we need a particular fabric or colour. On the bright side, any delay due to lack of fabric to upcycle is probably a good sign for the environment!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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