The straightforward name of The White T-Shirt Company is a challenge to the mainstream, a declaration that your cotton T-shirts are just not good enough, and that we are here to shake things up. When Penny Jones founded the company in 2002, it was in reaction to the unsustainable and fast fashion dominated clothing industry. Little has changed to this day, with quality, durability and ethics are still little more than buzzwords for major labels. Penny’s company take things back to basics and simply do everything as it should be done. The name is a provocation – we are The White T-Shirt Company, and Primark, H&M and Zara are the pretenders. Organic is the future, and the present too.
From seed sprout to shop front, manufacturers always have choices. So when you buy your T-shirts, it’s worth asking: what did I pay for? Did fertilisers and weed-killers soak the cotton fields? Were field labourers allowed to work reasonable hours or paid a fair wage? And when the threads were spun and stitched into shape, was any mind paid to quality or durability?
Most manufacturers would rather you didn’t ask such difficult questions. The White T-Shirt Co. answer them before you get the chance.
Each tee you purchase from The White T-Shirt Co. arrives with all the information presented neatly in the package – the stories of organic origin and ethical production are given equal footing to the product itself. Their claim is that your T-shirt is “monitored from germination to delivery”.
That The White T-Shirt Co. have a relationship with their cotton producer is uncommon; most retailers prefer to distance themselves from the fabric’s origin with a long and unaccountable supply chain. It’s through these opaque supply chains that unethical cotton is generally exported from infamous areas like the Aral Sea basin in Uzbekistan.
The White T-Shirt Co. care so much about their organic cotton supply that they shut down operations for three years from 2010 when they were no longer able to find a supplier that met their standards. The supplier that brought them out of hibernation is Sanko, who grow, hand pick, gin, spin and knit their cotton in their Turkish home of Corlu. It’s all GOTS [Global Organic Textile Standard] certified.
Once the material looks like the white fabric we associate with the word “cotton”, it heads to Lviv in western Ukraine to be cut and carefully stitched into the final, recognisable product. This part is overseen by Green Cotton, the pioneers that created the first organic-certified tee back in 1992. The designs are unique to The White T-Shirt Company, cut to a classic, flattering shape with longevity at front of mind. Each seam is double-stitched, while the material itself is reassuringly substantial without feeling too heavy. The quality is ISO 9001 certified, the only such quality certification around. On the tee there’s no brash logo to be seen, just a low-profile label on the neck.
After an extensive quality control process, the T-shirts arrive at HQ in North Shields, UK, to be hand-packed along with all the information you need. The shirt is folded, lightly wrapped in tissue paper and packaged in a recyclable box. An extensive sizing guide ensures you get the right fit at the first attempt – although they’ll even tailor you something unique if you’d prefer.
The tees offer enough variety to cater for all tastes, while sticking to the core design rules. Choose between a flattering fitted cut or the more laid back relaxed edition - almost all of their T-Shirts come in both styles. Likewise on sleeve length, men able to choose between long and short sleeves, with an additional 3/4 length cut for women. The neckline is up to you, from scoop to v-neck to a classic crew cut. Finally, don't let the name fool you - The White T-Shirt Co. offers grey, navy and black options, along with an all-new breton stripe design. View the whole collection here.
Happy sustainable shopping!