The Affair

I was chatting to a friend of mine a little while back about my plans to start a label, and they mentioned that a friend of theirs was putting together a tshirt label with some cool designs.

I’ve also been wanting to find some more obscure tshirt labels since Threadless tees are seemingly popping up everywhere nowadays. Plus I wanted a bit of a change, given most of my tees are Threadless already.

In watching my Facebook news feed I saw they’d become a fan of the-affair, figuring that was the label they were talking about, and sure enough it was them.

I checked out the website and subscribed to the blog. I dig the tees and the branding, and the other week took the plunge and purchased two tees.

More about my impressions of the tees and American Apparel over the jump…

As a fan of William Gibson I couldn’t go past Corto’s Crash (I’d link to the tee directly except the site is all Flash with no URL munging to make it bookmarkable), and I liked the subversiveness of Muslim Jesus. I had a bit of trouble actually ordering on the site due to the small size of my MacBook monitor (I couldn’t select the size from the popup list), but after a bit of fiddling got it to work.

Once translated into AU$ the cost (GBP25) adds up, but I figured I’d support a fledgling label and rack up the extra cost as research. The tees arrived pretty quickly and are printed on American Apparel cotton tees. The packaging is pretty cool – black shipping bags with great branding.

I’m personally not a massive fan of American Apparel product (as I’ve mentioned before) – the weight of the cotton is too thin for my liking and the body is a bit long – but a lot of my friends really dig them and overall they feel pretty good. If you’re looking for an alternative aesthetic to the “Threadless style” of tee, definitely worth checking out.

Overall a good quality product, though I’m not convinced they’re worth the AUD$60 given they’re not organic cotton and in the end are just printed AA tees. For comparison, Threadless tees are USD$15 – which works out to be a AUD$20-25 (depending on how many you get and the cost of shipping).

Sweatshop free?

As an aside, American Apparel claim to be “sweatshop free”, though I found this quote (from this interview with founder Dov Charney) interesting:

For us “sweatshop free” was never about criticizing other business models; it was about attempting something new. It comes down to this: not blindly outsourcing, but rather knowing the faces of our workers and providing them the opportunity to make a fair wage.

The interview goes on to address criticisms that American Apparel is “anti-union” (claims I’ve heard elsewhere). Clearly it’s not a cut and dried argument (along similar lines to what I’ve discussed before about doing the right thing but not getting certified).

Perhaps part of the reason for “de-emphasising” the sweatshop free angle is because of the criticism such a claim invokes if you’re not dotting all the Is crossing all the Ts by becoming certified. This kind of behaviour is something Joel Makower talks about a lot with legitimate efforts by companies to go green being written off as greenwash because they aren’t doing absolutely everything that activists are asking for.

But again this just hits home to me that certification is so important for businesses wanting to market on doing what they can to have a clean supply chain – it builds customer trust which is so critical in today’s market.

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