On a personal level, we go out of our way to support small creative businesses – we shop mom and pop and we buy local. We strongly believe in our “Support Community” and “Keep it Local” shirt designs and we know that a strong community has the power to strengthen itself and sustain a successful standard of living when the community engages in a cyclical economy. Small-scale economies can flourish with the right combination of creativity, community, and commerce.
In the apparel industry, most clothing companies utilize a global economy to maximize their profits. With the global apparel economy, most garment factories are in poor countries with little environmental restrictions, few labor laws, and (often) substandard working conditions. Garment workers in most of those substandard factories are paid in pennies based on the number of garments they sew. PROGRESS doesn’t follow that business model. We believe garment workers deserve fair wages, labor safety, and vacations and holiday pay for employees. Some garment manufacturers promote fair-trade garments where garment workers are paid fair wages for their work in developing countries. Fair trade factories are a great improvement over conventional garment factories, but the fair wages in a developing company are still far less than fair wages or minimum wages in the USA. We respect the work of the fair trade industry and organizations and we encourage their support for products that aren’t available by local producers. We believe that with American manufacturing we have advanced transparency as well as better working conditions, better labor laws that protect employees, better wages protected by state and federal wage laws, and a more localized product that keeps our money in our borders.
When we began increasing the quality of our garments, we realized that many developing countries that host garment manufacturing didn’t have environmental regulations or even a word for organic in their native language, though these factories supposedly manufacture organic garments. Naturally we didn’t trust the reality of the garments coming out of those garment factories and we didn’t have the budgets to investigate the truth. We took a progressive turn and changed our focus to fair labor and oversight that we can trust. With American made garments we have increased oversight, trust and quality.
Made in the USA garments also offer jobs in the homeland, closer to our community and more likely to be supportive of our designs, messages, and potentially our customers. We believe strongly in the power of buying local over internationally manufactured products. Employing our neighbors at fair wages offers more wealth equality, while international production adds to the increasing separation of wealth. While our garments are not literally made by our neighbors in Wisconsin, they are made by Americans and made in America.
Transportation is another costly and wasteful part of business that has a negative environmental impact. Whereas most garments are manufactured in Asia, trucked or railed to a coast and shipped by boat to America before they are distributed to garment companies, re-packaged, shipped to distributors, and then re-shipped to business consumers where they are printed, re-packaged and re-shipped again. With American-made garments, we are able to eliminate a great deal of the shipping, middle-people, and the environmental pollutants that are part of those processes.
Now that you know how our blank garments are produced, here’s a little info about how and where our apparel is printed. Offbeat Press is our apparel print shop and design office in Oshkosh, WI. We began the print shop to meet the needs of PROGRESS Label and offer a creative and eco-friendly option to our design customers and other businesses, bands and organizations. Offbeat Press takes pride in the craft of manual screen printing or as we call it, human-powered printing. We don’t use automatic printing presses, we print everything by hand – as true craftsmen and craftswomen have for decades. In addition to apparel, Offbeat Press prints screen-printed art posters and flatstock. Please contact Offbeat Press directly for your apparel printing and design needs.