We spent two years working on a proprietary cotton collection... and it became the first time we gave up developing a new product (at least for the time being). Here’s our Hoodies & Casual Collection (made with cotton) and story:
Why Cotton T-shirts, Hoodies & Crewnecks
There are two reasons why we wanted to create a proprietary line of VC-designed cotton apparel:
1. Transparent manufacturing matters. We endeavor to design/make every single item that gets the famous VC rubber label on it, and be forthcoming about where and how each of our products are made.
Stay tuned to read more about what “relabeling” is and why we do it differently than most in an upcoming blog post...
2. Some people prefer cotton. From the world’s best athletes to a team's most committed fans, many folks like good quality cotton apparel. Also, a great pair of sweatpants is the best. They make for comfy leisure and athleticwear.
An early step in designing a new apparel line is to starting with what you like. This was a pretty involved project: go to your dresser and pull out the most worn t-shirt and hoodie. There, you’re done!
While we did a lot more than that, many of our first samples were created after a careful review of the t-shirts, hoodies and crewnecks that VC team members like best. We bought numerous samples from other brands, wore them, washed them, measured them. We took copious notes, turned these into best descriptions of what we wanted for each style; and sent detailed specifications, along with our chosen materials, to production for pattern-making and samples.
Once samples of the new patterns are made, they go through rigorous testing internally. VC team members try the samples on for fit, feel and “look” to determine what aspects we like, what materials feel best, and what we want to improve on for the next round of samples… and then we go through it all again.
Each round takes 4-6 weeks, and a product is usually perfected in 2-3 rounds… so this process can be lengthy. Keep in mind, a sweatshirt that felt great in February might feel too heavy when reviewed in May – which means revising our fabric selection... and unfortunately changing a fabric means adjusting the pattern.
It’s a Vicious Circle
Honestly, it can quickly turn into our namesake circle… everything is connected. This fix creates that problem, this solution requires a new fix.
Two years later, after countless rounds of samples and testing, and thorough research in costs of fabrics, production and any future customization of a new cotton line, we’ve put it all on hold.
We’d be remiss to not mention that the pandemic-caused market slowdown means folks aren’t seeing us, and our gear, at events. This is important for a premium product, which any VC-made apparel piece is. Many people will want to touch or try on a piece of apparel featuring a price representing the fair value of high quality and low-production runs. We understand that.
So, what’s next?
You may have noticed that we’ve increased the number of cotton items available in our VC online store lately, with more ultimate-themed designs coming! We’ve been doing so partly to test colours, styles and different in-stock brand options; we aim to update our cotton line to contain only two brands – a great quality base line offering and a top-quality premium line.
We will always be transparent about who makes these products and why we’ve chosen them - stay tuned!
And, who knows? Once we can safely get back to the fields and have some semblance of a merchandise tent experience again, we may take what we’ve learned so far and try again.
In fact, I’m sure we will.
Update (2022): We did!