2008 October 28

Fruit of the Loom is an American company which manufactures clothing, particularly underwear but also a range of ‘utility’ clothing including T-shirts, sweatshirts and other active and casualwear. Establishing in Bowling Green, Kentucky, there are Fruit of the Loom factories across the USA, South America, Europe and North Africa.

Fruit of the Loom’s main business is in manufacturing underwear, printable polo-shirts and fleece clothing. In fact they supply most of the activewear industry, casualwear, women’s jeanswear and childrenswear.

Signature Style

Because Fruit of the Loom sells its products to others ranging from major discount chains who retail it without printing, and mass merchandisers, wholesale clubs and screenprinters, all of whom overprint the clothing – called blanks – before retailing it, the signature style of the company is that it has no style. It’s one of the biggest anonymous success stories in retailing – and for most people, the only time they know that their garment is Fruit of the Loom is when they look at the neck label.

Why we love them

Fruit of the Loom offers an unconditional guarantee on all the products it sells. In fact, word for word, here’s what they say: If you are not satisfied with any Fruit of the Loom product, return it to Fruit of the Loom. You will receive a new one, if available, or your money back.

The brand is also loved for its weird logo of Fruit Guys – made up of an apple, purple and green grapes, currants and leaves (yes, you’d be right to think those last three are all the same thing) its animated advertisements have been popular in the USA for decades.

Dissenting voices

Around the world, there have been concerns about this company’s overseas labour – in previous years it has been criticised by the International Textile Garments and Leather Workers Federation as having “a history of virulent anti-union activity” as well as subjecting employees to long hours, “poverty pay” and dangerous conditions. This condemnation has been particularly levelled at the El Salvador factories.


2008 October 2

Software developers Worldweaver Ltd have a competition for the best game demo made using the DX Studio platform. It’s an ideal contest for the well-dressed geek, or perhaps the geek who would like to be well dressed! You have to unleash your inner gamer and come up with a complete demo by 20th December and the prizes are impressive: the winner gets £1,000 cash, a Commercial Pro DX Studio license (whatever that means) and a limited edition DX Studio Polo Shirt and USB key. Runners up will receive a Non-commercial Pro DX Studio license, Polo-Shirt and USB key. Winners will be announced on 22nd December. More details at www.dxstudio.com

And a Hawaiian shirt company has broken its own world record. Hilo Hattie made the world’s largest Aloha shirt in 1999 and this year they have repeated the challenge, making a sixteen foot tall shirt to celebrate the University of Hawaii – exactly why the university should be celebrated this year isn’t clear, but the shirt big and bright and definitely not the kind of thing you should wear in the workplace if you’re hoping for promotion!


2008 September 18

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Stand bookings for the 2009 Workwear & Corporate Clothing Show organised by are gaining momentum. Compared to last September, stand bookings are up by over 60% and 80% more net space has been sold, showing that this area of British manufacture, trade and retail is on the up.

The 2009 show takes place at Birmingham’s NEC in April 2009 and features a fashion show, sponsored by Russell Europe, a conference, and the Business Manger Awards ceremony which will be hosted by Jeff Banks, famous for his fashion and corporate design. Nominations for the awards have just closed and the list of entrants and judges will be announced shortly.

The associated 2009 Conference will address one of the most important issues facing workwear and corporate garment manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and buyers today: sustainability. It starts on 2nd April and will bring together ten inspiring speakers to present on the three key areas of sustainability: environment, social and economy


2008 September 15

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There’s been a scandal about pictures taken of Prince Harry playing polo which were blown up and used by polo and sportswear brand Hackett as part of an advertising campaign. The posters of the Prince were fifteen feet tall and were displayed at the Soto Grande Polo tournament in Spain.

The Hackett brand is a sponsor of the polo tournament, but the posters didn’t mention this, seeming instead to imply that Prince Harry was endorsing the brand’s clothing line. There’s no information yet as to whether Hackett intends to use the picture which shows a moody looking Harry, hands on hips, in a dramatically lit moment, in magazine or billboard advertising.

The Palace has made a strongly worded statement saying that posing for snaps with a sponsor is one thing but ending up ‘on a socking great advert’ is something else. Harry’s Clarence House office also confirmed that the Prince has not been consulted about the use of the image and would not have given his consent.

Prince Harry courtesy of Hackett blog 


2008 July 29

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The hutongs (alleys to you and me) of Beijing have a new police force – of sorts.  They are called ‘Public Security Volunteers’ and there are more than 400,000 of them – arranged into neighbourhood groups that are serving the Olympic security forces which include a mixture of police, over 100,000 ‘counter-terror troops’ and more than 300,000 CCTV cameras. The PSVs patrol litter-dropping, inappropriate clothing and spitting in the street – but by the locals, not the expected foreign visitors!  Despite the attempt to distinguish the new PSVs from the old ‘neighbourhood committee’ by giving the new volunteers a snazzy red and white striped polo-shirt to wear when ‘on duty’, there’s a lot of concern in the populace – the former committees were a mixture of spies and party members who reported on the irregular activities of their neighbours, and caused many a midnight arrest or disappearance for ‘re-education’.    

The PSV polo-shirts are a big sign of changing China – they are sponsored by the Yanjing beer company, which would have been unthinkable a decade ago, and while every volunteer has been given one, less than half actually wear them. The other half have been put on the black market, still in their original wrappings, as part of the Beijing Olympic memorabilia business. That too, would have been impossible (or an arrestable offence!) a few years ago.  The concern that the new volunteers have caused can be directly related to their entrepreneurial flair. Those who have flogged their polo-shirts still need to distinguish themselves from ordinary citizens … so they’ve dug out Cultural Revolution-era red armbands to wear, and those armbands remind nervous Beijingers of the knock on the door in the middle of the night …

Beijing street cleaners in new uniforms


2008 July 14

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This is the question that www.nosymbolrequired.co.uk asked. 

And the answer? 

Well, it was http://www.saftag.com which was given an overall rating of 5 stars, another 5 stars for item quality, 4 stars for item value and 5 stars for item fit and sizing.

Mark Wallace, who conducted the review said,  ‘I have had difficulty in the past sourcing good enough organic cotton t-shirts which will hold the reputation of my company. I used anvil organic tees for a while, which were in the correct price range, however they didn’t stand the test of time. SAF t-shirts are good quality, are not prone to misshaping after washing, and are easy to print on. The feel of the fabric is far superior to any other organic cotton tee I have managed to get my hands on. The sizes are acceptable and what you would expect. The colours are vibrant and also last well when washing.

His only quibble?

He wants to know when SAF will be bringing out a yellow tee!

 White organic T-shirt courtesy of SAF


2008 May 8

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Canadian politicians are fuming – they’ve discovered that Canada’s Olympic uniforms are being made in China!  But Tu Ly, one of the designers who created them, is unapologetic about the situation.  In an interview he made a robust defence of the decision to manufacture in China, ‘I would like to challenge these politicians to give up their cell phones made in China or their TVs, then maybe they’d really be on an even plane,’ he said. Ly added that his company has a code of vendor conduct to ensure its suppliers operate under fair working law and respect the environment.

But New Democrat MP Paul Dewar isn’t happy. ‘This is our Olympic team. We should be ensuring that all of our Olympic athletes are … wearing Canadian-made textiles and all of their uniforms should be made in Canada.’ The decision has sparked such controversy because the Canadian clothing manufacture market is in something of a decline at present.

The Hudson Bay Company, for whom Ly works, said that Asia is the only readily-available source for the specialist fabrics featured in the eco-friendly designs, which are specifically mandated to help athletes cope with Beijing’s heat and humidity. These innovative fabrics include bamboo, cocona and organic cotton. But the line of Olympic Supporters apparel is being made in China too, and that may be a more difficult case to fight, as souvenir buyers probably won’t be travelling to China!

For the last summer Olympics, Roots Canada made the athletes’ uniforms at home and outfitted Canada’s Olympic teams for every Olympics from 1998 to 2004.

Canadian Olympic team modelling their uniforms courtesy of JP Moculski, The Canadian Press


2008 May 5

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Well, to start with, sportswear should not be designed by a committee! But after the last Olympics, when a fuss was kicked up about the Kiwi Olympic team being kitted out by a non-NZ manufacturer, this time around things have changed – but has it been for the better? The New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) and clothing consortium DesignTex got together in a partnership to produce uniforms for the opening ceremony as well as non-competition wear. The uniform, designed by this hybrid company, which is called Kapinua, includes a track suit, short and long sleeved T-shirts, casual shorts, polo shirts, a blazer with either trousers or a skirt, sports tops, cap and sports socks … and Crocs! Yes, black, clog-like footwear will feature in the NZ team suitcases. So they are going to look like those wallies one sees scuffing their way along the High Street with their little bags of Sunday morning recycling, aren’t they?

But it does get worse. While their T-shirts and polo shirts are made from high-performance micro-fibre, which is designed to manage moisture, and New Zealand merino wool has been used in some garments, they made the classic mistake of including three Chinese characters on the clothing which, they say, mean New Zealand. Do they really? Does nobody learn anything from experience? Didn’t David Beckham once have a tattoo that he thought said Victoria in Hindi but actually reads Vichtoria? And I wonder what the ‘three characters’ actually say – possibly it reads ‘they didn’t pay me enough to translate this properly’!

Sportswear should be designed by sports designers, not committees, and while NZ should be applauded by wanting to make their clothing at home, they may regret not having hired a top class designer to give their team some confidence.

Kapinua polo-shirt courtesy of Kapinua


2008 April 28

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Auctions come and auctions go, but this auction featured a polo shirt that has taken its former owner to the stars. Bidding for the pink polo shirt once owned by NASA astronaut Eileen Collins opened on 1 April at just $10. A week later and more than a day before its auction was set to close, collectors had pushed its price up to $300 and the final winning bid was $520.

“I can’t say it was easy for me to donate such an important part of my past,” Collins said.  She wore the shirt while training for her four space shuttle missions and her career was a glittering one indeed. In 1995 she was the first female U.S. astronaut to pilot a spacecraft and just four years later, she was the first woman to command a space shuttle mission. Most recently, and humblingly, it was Collins who led the shuttle fleet’s 2005 return to flight after the loss of Columbia and its crew in 2003.

This shirt was important to her because Collins has only a few mementos from her time in space. “Astronauts can keep very little. [I have] only the personal items, such as my wedding ring, old toothbrushes, and some shirts!” she said. She donated the shirt, which is embroidered with her name and her astronaut class’ nickname, “The Hairballs,” on its front to be part of an annual auction run by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF). Founded by the Mercury astronauts in 1984, the ASF supports college students who are excelling in their pursuit of science and engineering degrees to give them the best chance of doing what Collins did – saying The Sky’s The Limit. 

Polo-shirt image courtesy of austronaut scholarship foundation


2008 April 17

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The must-have souvenirs in Washington this week include I love the pope bumper stickers, Property of Benedict XVI T-shirts and mugs emblazoned with the pope’s heavenward gaze, all being snapped up by Roman Catholics who visited the capital ahead of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit. Many hoped that Benedict would bless rosaries and other religious articles at Thursday’s Mass. Merchandise licensed by the archdioceses of Washington and New York will be for sale at Masses and other events and online – some of the proceeds will go to help pay for the pope’s visit, but archdiocese officials say they are not expecting a huge sum. The most popular items from internet sales have been holy cards and polo shirts, which feature Benedict’s personal crest as an archbishop. Also selling well are the Benedict tour T-shirts, listing all the U.S. sites he is visiting, as if it was a concert tour.

And George? Well he’s been the victim of a scam that was nipped in the bud. A pair of Milanese forgers have just been charged with trying to sell a men’s fashion and accessories collection branded as Exclusively GC and designed by George Clooney. While the first response was that this was an April Fool’s Day hoax, police in Milan later found watches and garments that would have gone on sale if the scam hadn’t been stopped. Clooney told reporters in Rome, ‘If someone tries to sell you clothes or watches that are based on me, don’t buy them.’

Pope Benedict courtesy of Beyond Forgetting