Arron Harnden

The Most Expensive T-Shirt In The World

One Man With Ridiculously Lavish Style

worlds-most-expensive-t-shirt

It is a long standing fact that India has a fascination with gold, and in the culture it stands as a symbol for prestige and power. As with lots of other countries across the world, many Indian men and women purchase gold to make a statement about their wealth and glamour.

Datta Phuge, also affectionally known as 'the gold man' shocked the world when he took fashion and flamboyance to the next level with his awe inspiring gold tshirt. A self confessed gold obsessive from Pimpri Chinchwad, just outside of Pune in India, commissioned a T-Shirt for himself that was made entirely out of gold.

The 133 year old company that Datta used created the item with fashion and comfort in mind. They used a gold cloth sewn in Italian weave as well as a soft velvet lining to ensure the top was easy to wear for Datta. The tshirt was created with a special machine and the design was inspired by historical Indian kings who used to wear large suits of armour.

The T-shirt clinks on movement and cannot be washed so it is very important that Datta Phuge takes care to protect it from sweat and dirt, which is easy to pick up. The shirt tooks fifteen days and sixteen people to make, weighs 3.3kg and cost a whopping $250,000 (approx £150,000). He has also had to hire a security guard to follow him when he wears the shirt, although he saves it for special luxurious occasions rather than wearing it daily.

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Andy Timmins

The Importance Of Quality: Why Choose Ethical?

Choosing The Quality Of Ethically Produced Goods

Ethical Clothing QualityEthical clothing implies that the clothing has been produced while giving the workers fair wages, keeping the effect on the environment to a minimum and offering workers fair conditions.

Ethical clothing companies ensure that the workers producing their goods are given fair and stable wages as well as avoids the use of animal skin and damage to the surrounding environment. Workers hired by ethical clothing companies can be certain of a clean, hygienic environment without the fear of violence through forced overtime hours or low wages.

Unfortunately, relatively few people choose ethical clothing products because they can be more expensive due to the added care and attention to the environment and the workers in the industry. In turn, companies tend to be less willing to invest in ethical pieces because there are less people willing to spend money on higher priced products. However, having said that, since the disaster in Bangladesh and its high profile in the media, people are becoming further aware of the need for ethical priorities in the fashion industry. This disaster, alongside the work of The Ethical Fashion Forum which covers an expansive network of ethical professionals, work together to raise awareness for the need of ethical products and help to grow the market and audience for ethical fashion.

Ethical clothing is not all about protecting the environment and people. To offset the possibility of unethical practices earning a larger chunk of the fashion market and industry, ethical clothing is often of far better quality than its rival. This means that whilst it can appear more expensive, you are getting better quality for your money. Owner of Shirtworks, Andy Timmins, says, “Ethically made garments tend to be heavier in weight and the higher quality fabrics tend to be used.” He adds that, “Ethical suppliers can’t compete on price, so they give a better product.”

 

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Andy Timmins

The Plastic Bag Charge: Helping Wales Become Greener

How The Carrier Bag Charge Has Impacted The Environment

plastic bag chargesSince October 2011, retailers in Wales were forced to implement a charge of 5p on every carrier bag. This law included paper bags, as well as plastic carrier bags. The aim of this regulation was to change the habits of shoppers in Wales, in a bid to reduce the unnecessary consumption of carrier bags, and to encourage shoppers to re-use their existing bags.

There was some controversy surrounding this at the beginning, with critics arguing that it was unfair to force this extra charge on consumers. Critics of the law also argued that it would be impossible to enforce without extra funding to local authorities, and that they would need 100% cooperation with all retailers. However, despite the objections of some doubters, it seems that the scheme has been a resounding success.

Good Causes

As well as encouraging consumers to change their approach and to think proactively about the environment, the charges of carrier bags in Wales are channelled directly into charities such as RSPB and Keep Wales Tidy. According to an interview with The Guardian, John Griffiths - at the time, Welsh environment minister - said that the measures had raised over £800,000 for good causes that help the environment.

The fact that this law was not introduced as a traditional tax to boost government funds was seen as a major benefit, and arguably this fact has made it more acceptable for the general public.

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Andy Timmins

When to use digital printing or when to screen printing for your t-shirts

 

We are often asked what is the difference between digital and screen printing and which method should I use. You can read about screen printing and digital printing in our services pages to help give you an understanding on the two methods. But for when to use each method can be a tricky one and as always there are lots of variables that need to be looked at before making a decision and it is not always a black or white option. 

The first thing to consider is number of garments that are to be printed with your design. If you want less than 10 items then your only choice is digital as there is a minimum number of 10 for screen printing. As this is digital then there are no limits on the number of colours that we can print in the design. OK so there we have an easy answer because there is only one answer there are a few more scenarios where you have no choice and that is when you are using full colour artwork or using 6.7 or 8 spot colours on quantities of less than 100. 

gradiated-colour

Full colour artwork means we are using shades and tones, which can be a photograph but can also mean gradients of the same colour. There are times we can screen print these gradients on lower numbers but we would need to see your artwork to confirm this

Spot colours are solid colours of ink and the image on th eright shows a 3 colour example.

 

What if my design is just 1 colour and I want 10 of them? This is where we can either go the traditional way of screen printing or choose digital printing. so how do I decide? Screen printing is the most durable and is cheaper to actually print so surely this is the best option?

 

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Andy Timmins

Five Of The Best Ethical Fashion Websites

Here at Shirtworks we take our ethical code of conduct very seriously. We also know that our customers take their purchasing habits seriously, so we've put together a helpful short-list of five of the best ethical fashion websites.

1. Ms Wanda's

ms wandasThe tagline on Ms Wanda's site is 'looking good on the outside, feeling good on the inside,' and really that perfectly summarises how sustainable, ethical clothing should be. The successful 'Uber Blog' brings together a range of likeminded writers that all aim to change the world one article at a time.

Funded through advertising, voluntary donations and the sale of ethical clothing, they aim to 'clean up fashion' by raising awareness, and not just about the ethical options available but also by highlighting the damage that current fashion programmes can cause with examples such as the Bangladeshi factory collapse.

2. Style With Heart

style with heartStyle With Heart was founded by Gillian Osrin, a remarkable woman with 20 years fashion industry experience and an interesting philosophy. She says, 'it saddens me that the word 'fashion' often implies products that have a sell-by-date, designed to satisfy the latest impulses of a society that often values quantity over quality.'

The aim of Style With Heart is to bring together a selection of stunningly made clothes, jewellery and accessories that make you look and feel beautiful. However it is more than an e-commerce website, Style With Heart also offers interesting events, special offers and advice on sustainable living for anybody that's interested in ethical fashion.

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Andy Timmins

GreenEnergy: Team Building T-Shirts

When Greennergy.co.uk needed some t-shirts for a team building exercise held at Bredbury Hall Hotel and Country Club, they asked us to come up with the t-shirts.

They had 10 groups of 10 people all wanting a different colour shirt for their team, the obvious choice for the t-shirt was the Gildan GD01 and GD72 as comes in both men’s and ladies and has 21 colours to choose from.

Most of the groups wanted the same design for each individual group and then we added personal names and slogans to the backs of the shirts. Each of the groups had a different screen printed design on the front and individual names were applied on the back using our computer cut lettering system, making sure that the right sized shirt had the right name applied!

 

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Andy Timmins

Ethically Sourcing Your Materials: It’s Possible & It’s Necessary

Ethical and sustainable business is not only a moral decision, but also an economical one. Many businesses make the choice to become more ethical as a selling point, especially if their clientele is particularly concerned about the source of the products they are purchasing.

What Is Ethical Sourcing?

Ethical Sourcing means ensuring that good labour law standards are met whilst your products are being manufactured, and this includes when your materials are being created as well as when they are made into clothing.

 Many people seem to get confused about the process involved in ethics, and contrary to popular belief ethical sourcing does not have anything to do with the environment.

Ethical sourcing involves making sure your workers at all stage of the products development are provided with decent labour standards, this includes zero discrimination, a decent working age (typically 16 or over), a fair wage payment, reasonable hours and a safe and hygienic place of work.

 

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Andy Timmins

Embroidery Vs. Screen Printed T-Shirts - Which are Better?

embroidery-machine-stitching

When choosing the method that your t-shirts are going to be printed with, there is a vast variety of options, among the most popular being embroidery and screen printing.

With embroidery, thread is stitched into your custom made product, most often seen in products such as corporate wear, jackets, hats and golf shirts.

Screen printing involves a process that uses inks that are applied to a substrate. It is named screen printing because a mesh screen stencil is created for each colour in your design, through which the ink is pushed to create the finished effect of the design.

Embroidery

Pros:

  • Embroidery is perfect for customising polo shirts and corporate clothing as it offers a high quality and professional finish.
  • Embroidered t-shirts tend to last longer than screen printed ones.
  • Developments in the t-shirt printing industry have meant that machines can embroider 2-10 pieces at a time which can save a great deal on cost.

Cons:

  • Embroidery tends to be more expensive than other methods.
  • Complex imagery and small text may not appear as well represented by embroidered thread as it would by ink through screen printing.

 

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Andy Timmins

Cheap T-Shirt Printing: The Best Value?

shirtworks oxford t-shirt printingHere at Shirtworks, potential clients will sometimes tell us that they’ve had a cheaper offer for their clothing printing. We know that price is an incredibly important factor when buying a product, and we also feel that value, customer service and quality rank just as high as the end price to our customer.

This is why we look at every like for like competitor’s quote and try to beat it. There are many considerations to be made when choosing a clothing printing company, which we have detailed below. It is important to note that price is not the only factor that should be considered when choosing a printing company; the cheapest option isn’t always the best option.

 

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Andy Timmins

The Value Chain Call To Action: A Response To Bangladeshi Trauma

bangladesh call to actionOn the 24th April 2013 the Rana Plaza, an eight story commercial building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed. The accident has been viewed as the deadliest garment-factory in history as well as the deadliest accidental structural failure in modern human history. 1,190 people died in the accident with a further 1,900 people injured. The vast majority of these casualties were garment-workers with a high percentage of them being female. If certain guidelines and rulings had been in place, the accident would have been preventable.

Unfortunately this accident was not the first of its kind. In Bangladesh alone there have been other incidents of structural accidents leading to the death of many factory workers. The Tazreen factory fire killed over 110 garment workers as well ad the fire that tore through hteh dyeing mill outside Dhaka killing a further 10 workers. But there is something we can do to stop the risk of accidents such as these happening again.

The Ethical Fashion Forum covers a network of professionals, from both supply and retail, in over 130 countries with a total membership of approximately 15,000 people. They put out word for a possible Value Chain Call To Action tool and received over 300 responses from their educated members. The Value Chain Call To Action has been put together as an ongoing liaison tool between Ethical Fashion Forum members, fashion businesses, policy makers and industry stakeholders.

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Andy Timmins

We’ve Expanded our Range of Customisable Clothing

We’re always looking to expand our range of customisable clothing with new products that we think you’ll love. We’re highlighting some of our favourites here, but make sure to check out the LATEST PRODUCTS section of the website to see our latest garments as soon as they’re released!

Premier Contrast Bib Apron

premier contrast bib apron

For bar, bistro, café or coffee shop owners, our stylish customisable apron is perfect if you’d like your employees to stand out from the crowd. The apron features a block of contrasting colour, with a range of colours available, including black and red, black and lime, black and turquoise, and more!

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Andy Timmins

Screen Printing: What Makes a Good Screen?

Every tradesman knows that poor preparation and substandard equipment lead to substandard work. We have a print department mantra which is exercised each day at Shirtworks where ‘good printing starts with good screens’.

Here is some basic and not so basic information about what constitutes a good screen. There are two basic components in a screen; The frame and the mesh. The frame systems which are used at Shirtworks are Fixed frames and Self-tensioning frames.

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Andy Timmins

Softshell Jackets – From Hiking to the High Street

About Softshell Jackets

softshell jacketsSoftshell jackets are becoming increasingly popular on Britain’s high streets, and we are seeing increased interest in our range of outdoors clothing. With the recent popularisation of health, fitness and sports amongst those of all ages (due in part to the London Olympics, and upcoming Winter Olympics), activewear is experiencing a rise in popularity and many brands are booming as a result.

Outdoor Pursuits

Although the weather in the UK is quite often not the best, we have acquired an obsession with outdoor pursuits. Our incredible countryside attracts tourists from across the globe, and encourages us to get out there walking, hiking, climbing, and cycling. Britain is home to some of the most stunning mountain ranges in Europe, including the Brecon Beacons, The Peak District, The Pennines, Snowdonia, and The Grampians - among others.

According to The Guardian, the last few years have seen a huge surge in popularity of National Trust walking routes, with an increase of around 40% on downloads from the National Trust website. As well as hill walking and hiking, the UK coastal regions are also incredibly popular. With plenty of amazing coastal walks around Britain, people are attracted by the wildlife and scenery in these most beautiful areas of the country.

As a result of this obsession with the outdoors, popular brands have emerged and flourished in the British market recently. Companies such as The North Face, Regatta, and Jack Wolfskin are now competing extremely well in the market and you can see their products everywhere on the high street as well as up mountains and along coastal walking paths. Although many of these brands have a long and established history, their outdoor activewear is now more popular than ever.

 

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Andy Timmins

Customer Spotlight: The Big Bang Restaurant

Restaurant Uniform Printing

Shirtworks like to grease the wheels for local businesses by featuring our customers and friends who are in business, in and around Oxfordshire. This month our spotlight focuses on the amazing Max Mason and his fabulous restaurant, The Big Bang.

The Big Bang Restaurant is one of Oxford's most renowned feasteries, and boasts a true gastronomic experience in the heart of the City. After a decade of successful bangers and mash, this charming and unique dining experience is celebrated by locals and tourists alike.

Originally located in Jericho, The Big Bang Restaurant moved to a central location at the Oxford Castle Quarter in late 2012, enabling eccentric proprietor Max Mason to produce an array of publicity stunts, including the widely celebrated 'Oxford Beach' that appeared inland over the summer months.

Max is almost as passionate about jazz music as he is with sausages, and invites artists and trios to perform on a weekly basis at the restaurant. Max plays the welcoming host to perfection and may even regale you with a tale or two from his Navy days - apparently they still keelhaul!

Bangin' Uniforms

Max has been a customer of Shirtworks since 2005 and was quick to realise that his staff needed to stand apart from the customers by wearing some sort of uniform.

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Andy Timmins

A Commitment to The Living Wage

living-wage-commitment
Generating Awareness About Fairer Wages

As part of our commitment to an ethical supply chain, Shirtworks have become the first printer & embroiderer in the UK to instigate the Living Wage program company-wide. From 1 December 2013, Shirtworks will be making the permanent commitment to fairer wages, and will be working to spread awareness of this important issue.

Living Wage is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK, and employers are not legally bound to oblige. It is a voluntary program that has a number of benefits to all parties involved. According to the Living Wage Foundation website, from a study made in London, 80% of employers believe that it enhanced the quality of their staff’s work, and reduced absenteeism by about 25%. From the employee perspective, 75% reported an increase in the quality of their own work.

Managing Director Arron Harnden says, “Every business is trying to find cheaper ways of supplying a product or service in order to be competitive. The ‘race to the bottom’ on price always creates a negative effect for the customer through poor quality work or poor customer service. Some of the cheaper companies attempt to reduce their costs through their payroll by paying minimum wage but we believe that paying a decent salary is the cornerstone of a great business able to deliver the type of customer service experience we are renowned for. We don’t want to run a ‘sweat shop’, there are already plenty of those print and embroidery companies out there.

Together with an increasing amount of companies across Britain, we recognise that there is no place for an unfair wage structure, and that we need to do our bit to combat the issues affecting workforces locally and globally. Working in an industry where unfair wages are all too common, Shirtworks strives wherever possible to do the right thing throughout our supply chain.

Considering social responsibility is essential, and many of our larger corporate customers are delighted to align themselves with this philosophy. As we emerge from a tough global recession, we hope that more consumers are prepared to do more business with socially responsible companies, and we hope that more print companies, clothing manufacturers, and embroiderers will follow suit and improve their commitment to ethical processes.

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Andy Timmins

Augmented Reality and Clothing: The Future?

Augmented Reality and Clothing: The Future?

What is Augmented Reality?

augmented-reality-effect-on-t-shirt-

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that is set to change the way we see the world forever. The definition of augmented reality in the Oxford Dictionary is “a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.” It is a blur between reality and virtual reality, and creates a whole host of opportunities for entertainment and for business. Essentially, augmented reality adds images, graphics, and sounds to the real world by displaying them on a digital device.

More smartphones are being built with augmented reality displays inbuilt, and there are a number of apps on the market that feed data in through your smartphone or your tablet’s camera. These apps can be used to map the stars in the sky (Star Chart), check local crime rates and crime locations (SpotCrime) or just to acquire useful information about your surroundings, including restaurants, bars, cinemas, and much more (Acrossair).

Displays are becoming more subtle and usable, with the much-discussed Google Glass spearheading the evolution of wearable augmented reality displays. Currently, these glasses are fairly chunky and obvious, but as we have seen with the fine-tuning of phones and music devices, it won’t be long before outward appearance of augmented reality glasses is no different to a pair of reading glasses.

Whilst this is exciting prospect, a number of issues have surfaced regarding safety and privacy, and there have been calls to ban augmented reality glasses for drivers, as well as for visitors to cinemas, casinos, and strip clubs. This represents challenges moving forward, and as the industry expands and the demand increases, the authorities must get to grips with how augmented reality might impact everyday life.

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Andy Timmins

Salvage Recycled Clothing

100% Recycled Clothing by Salvage

salvage-logo

We are proud to announce that we have expanded our range of custom sustainable and environmentally friendly clothing with 100% recycled T-Shirts, Sweatshirts and bags by Salvage.

Salvage’s unique production process creates a product that is both sustainable and high quality. Used plastic bottles are recycled, creating polyester, which is then combined with offcuts from organic cotton production that have been shredded and processed. The two materials are weaved in to a poly/cotton yarn that is knitted and woven to produce their clothing and accessories.

All Salvage clothing is Global Recycle Standard and Organic Blended Content Standard Certified.

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Shirtworks Now Supplying NUS Stores

nus-studentsWe’re delighted to announce that we have been awarded a contract to supply official National Union of Students affiliated shops with our printed and embroidered garments. Due to our established history of working with students, institutions, sports clubs, and societies, we’re very excited to receive this recognition from the NUS, and the team is looking forward to working with a number of NUS stores in Universities across the UK.

This development goes hand-in-hand with our commitment to taking ethical and environmental responsibilities seriously, with the NUS also placing huge emphasis on confronting environmental issues head-on. Our attitude and credentials served us well in gaining this contract, in particular our proud claim to be the world’s only printer and embroiderer to have formal accreditation from The Soil Association. This focus on environmental responsibilities is being reflected in the enquiries that we are receiving at Shirtworks, with more and more people asking us about our ethically sourced products. This highlights a wider interest in looking after our planet, and we see this shift in attitude as an extremely positive development.

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Andy Timmins

Digital Printing: The Impact of Technology on Garment Printers

digital-print-example

How Digital Printing Has Revolutionised Our Industry

Major advancements in technology impact every industry on the planet, and the garment printing industry is no exception to this. Fortunately, developments in printing technologies has positively benefited our trade and allowed us to provide even better results for clients on a grander scale. At the heart of these changes is the rise of the Digital Printing technique, and this article looks at what this means for the printing industry and the services that can now be provided as a result.

Traditional Garment Printing

Two of the more traditional printing techniques are Screen Printing and Vinyl Cut Printing. Screen Printing is the most popular method, and many of the printed garments that you will see people wearing in the street will have been created using this technique. Screen Printing involves creating a stencil and using it to apply different layers of ink, to the surface of the garment. Due to the time that it takes to set up a print run, Screen Printing is not usually appropriate for small orders, but is perfect for the mass production of detailed printed garments.

Vinyl Cut Printing is different in that a plotter cuts out letters or numbers and these are then applied to the garment using heat transfer. This technique is useful for sports teams who want individual names and numbers, but isn’t appropriate for larger scale orders.

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The Recovery of the Construction Industry & Impact on Workwear

A Recovering Industry?

b2ap3_thumbnail_customised-workwear.pngThe building trade is a dynamic and ever-changing industry. Recent years have been challenging for many construction firms, with the recession having a big impact on both large and small scale developments in the UK. The construction industry constitutes between 6 - 7% of the UK economy, so is one of the driving forces behind its success or failure.

Improvement

However, with the economic recovery apparently underway, we are beginning to see a welcome improvement in the fortunes of this sector in particular. The Financial Times has recently discovered that activity in the construction sector "rose at its fastest pace in six years" by August 2013, with 46% of Markit's industry report respondents expecting a rise in business over the coming year. Initiatives such as the Help to Buy scheme have boosted the trade and sped up recovery.

Moving forward, the government have introduced the Construction 2025 strategy, which sets out a vision for improving smart technologies and green construction within the sector, as well as more ethical and healthy supply chains. This is something that we are extremely interested in, considering our own accreditations and commitment to using ethically sourced products.

Due to a long-standing relationship with many companies in the construction industry, Shirtworks maintains a keen interest in the performance of this sector. The recovery of the industry has seen us receive an increasing amount of enquiries about our customised workwear, and this is a good signal that things are indeed improving.

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