Several years ago now, I wrote a post called Small Batch Manufacturing, which to this day is the most popular individual post I’ve written. Ah, how times have changed, and how they stay the same.
Anyway, I recently updated the About Pages on brookthere.com, and thought it would be nice to cross-post our current approach to conscientious sourcing, production, and distribution.
—-Originally Posted on Brook There Ethics + Fabrics Page—-
Our base fabric is an organic cotton jersey, GOTS-certified, and milled in South Carolina. This is the organic cotton jersey used as a base for most of our underwear, bras, and clothing. For special fabrications, like our 80% organic cotton stripe or US-milled linen jersey, we work with a mill in California. We use real silk trims, with a touch of spandex.
We prefer organic cotton for two interconnected reasons: health and environment. Conventional cotton production uses more insecticides than any other crop on the planet (read more here and here) We think that’s not that great for either the environment or cotton farmers. Additionally, some people report that they have chemical sensitivities and prefer organic cotton as an alternative to support their health.
Our personal reasons are simpler: we buy organic food because we believe in supporting organic farming, while also wishing to consume fewer unknowns. Similarly, we buy organic cotton. And, while it’s mostly coincidence, our design studio happens to be situated on an organic vegetable farm, so we think and hear frequently about farming impacts.
Most of our fabrics are dyed in Pennsylvania, with a small selection being dyed by Brook in Maine. We use fiber reactive dyes when possible. Certain colors can’t be created through fiber-reactives, such as black and white. We strive to create a healthy compromise between colors that customers love, color-fastness, and sustainability.
MADE IN THE USA
Everything we make is cut and sewn in New England, with the bulk of production occurring in Fall River, Massachusetts. Making in the USA is an essential ethic for us: we never have to wonder if our production is getting jobbed out to third parties with potentially lower ethical or labor standards. We are in the Fall River facility about once a month to check on production, put items into inventory or develop styles and techniques.
This should be obvious, but we’ll state it again anyway: Making in the USA means no sweatshops and no child labor.
LOW IMPACT DISTRIBUTION
Our inventory lives at the same facility in which it is cut and sewn. This is one of the less obvious, but really essential aspects of our choices towards low-impact production. We aim to minimize on transport whenever possible. As described above, the majority of our fabric is produced in South Carolina. It is trucked to Pennsylvania for dying. And then it goes to Massachusetts for cut and sew, and that’s it, until it ships to you.
Garments go from the quality assurance tables straight to the inventory shelves, and for that reason we do not need to individually plastic bag garments. Individual plastic bagging is an unfortunate requirement of most standard warehousing situations, but because we are shipping direct from the cut and sew facility we don’t have to undertake this wasteful practice. When we ship to end customers, we use eco-enclose recycled poly bags and recycled tissue paper for most orders. (If you order a whole bunch of stuff from us we use a cardboard box!)
VEGAN & OTHER CHOICES
We have made it easy to sort and select the styles and choices you might be looking for on this website. Look to the sorting bar on the left (or in the drop down on mobile view) to view just items made the way you like. Vegan, on our site, means items made without silk, wool, or leather.