Better t-shirts for women (and men too). Say hello to Blank by Cotton Bureau.

February 17th, 2017

We have a confession to make: our women’s t-shirts suck.

Alright, maybe that’s a little inaccurate, let’s be more specific: our women’s t-shirt sizing sucks. It always has, and if you’ve ever bought a women’s t-shirt from us and it was way too small, we apologize (chances are, this is not the first time we’ve apologized to you for this). It’s time we did something about it. So all we need to do is switch t-shirt suppliers, right? Wrong.

You see, finding a wholesale t-shirt manufacturer that fits all our criteria has been…challenging (to say the least). We need a brand with modern fits, a wide range of colors and fabrics, ethical manufacturing, reliable quality and consistency, always-available stock, and it’d be reeeeal nice if it was made in America. Finding a brand that checks all those boxes and oh yeah also fits women is damn near impossible. If you can find a women’s brand that comes in our preferred colors and fabrics, it’s only available in mega-tiny junior sizing. If it’s sized to fit most women, the cut is awkward, the fabric isn’t anywhere near our standards, and it comes in whatever color you want…as long as that color is pink. It’s frustrating for us as a company, and every bit as frustrating for you as our customer. We know how demoralizing it is to buy one of our t-shirt designs, wait weeks for it to arrive, then hurriedly try it on only to find out that it’s about six sizes smaller than you expected. It shouldn’t be like this, and it kills us that we haven’t been able to find a women’s t-shirt that works.

So we’re gonna make our own.

Today, we’re lifting the lid on Blank, our project to design and produce better t-shirts from the ground up: our sizes, our fits, our fabrics, our colors. Over the last six months, we’ve been building relationships with people all over the garment industry: pattern makers, fabric suppliers, cut-and-sew operations, industry consultants, full-service apparel factories, fit models, and more. We’ve even produced a few samples. We’re going to need all the help we can get, which is why reached out to Indie.vc for funding last year (remember this cryptic line?) and hired a project lead to give it the attention it deserves (we’ll introduce her in a bit). Exciting, huh? It’s something we’ve been talking about forever, and the fact that it’s actually happening is a bit surreal. Let’s answer some questions.

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OMG will your women’s tees finally fit me?

We hope so! We have a lot of goals with Blank, and #1 is “make t-shirts that fit most women.” We know that we can’t design a single t-shirt that will fit everybody, but we can make something that’s a hell of a lot better than what we have now. And it won’t just be limited to women…we’re making men’s tees too (and if you like how our men’s tees fit, we have good news: we’re not changing them much).

Are you replacing your entire t-shirt line?

Not for a while, no. We’ll probably introduce Blank as a premium option alongside our current Next Level tees, starting with a very limited range of colors and fabrics and gradually expanding over time. It’s gonna take us some time to find our sea legs. We won’t become American Apparel overnight.

Where will your t-shirts be produced? Please say the U.S.

We’re gonna try our damnedest to make these in the U.S. There’s a chance they might even be cut-and-sewn right here in Pennsylvania.

When is this happening?

We’re launching Blank later this year with a Kickstarter campaign (right now we’re eyeing June–July 2017) and they’ll be available as Cotton Bureau graphic tees shortly thereafter. Sit tight. We’re not at the beginning of the process, but we’re also nowhere near the end.

Will I be able to buy them blank?

Yes! We’re not just saving them for our graphic tees. That’s actually something we’re most excited about. Note: we’re not planning on selling them wholesale (not yet, anyway).

This sounds complicated…is this really going to work?

It is complicated. We now know more about yarn gauges, fabric weights, and the finer points of dyeing methods than we ever wanted to (and there’s still so much more to learn). And hey, who knows if it’ll work? We could sink the whole company! But we’ll never know if we don’t try. And if it does work, t-shirts are just the beginning.

Who’s running this show?

Meet Michelle Sharp. She joined Cotton Bureau last September and has been running point on Blank since day one. If you have any comments, advice, complaints, or notes of encouragement, email blank@cottonbureau.com and it’ll get to her. Most future posts about Blank will come from her.

How can I stay up-to-date on Blank developments?

Keep an eye on this blog, sign up for our Blank newsletter at the bottom of this page, and follow the hashtag #BlankbyCB on Twitter and Instagram.

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That’s all we have to share for now, but there’ll be plenty more in the coming weeks and months. We hope this makes you as excited as it makes us. Wish us luck.

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