Manufacturing is not easy. Manufacturing overseas is harder. Sourcing and manufacturing sustainable fabric is even harder and get into the super small hemp garments industry takes difficulty in sourcing and manufacturing to a whole new level. We have all heard some horror stories about manufacturing overseas of all sorts but one thing we know is true from experience is that if you allow any manufacturer to screw you over, they will. You must always protect yourself and test everything!
When we first started this idea of hemp underwear we had ordered a test run of only 200 pieces total. We thought we would use this run for marketing purposes to get ready for our launch on Kickstarter. As soon as we got the underwear and tested it, it was good, but something felt different. So before we moved on with photos or any marketing, we decided to sacrifice one piece and send the fabric for testing in a legit laboratory. When we got our results back we were so lucky to have caught their error at this stage compared to later on, as the fabric was actually linen and not hemp. Linen fabric can actually be very similar in texture and feel. When we asked our supplier why they sent us linen and not hemp, they said because for some reason in the knitting factory the hemp yarn got tangled in something in their outdated knitting machines, so they switched it with some extra linen yarn they had laying around. Sounds strange to us but we decided to never use this supplier again due to this and other issues.
After this incident and a huge time waster, we learned a few valuable lessons. One is that we needed and hired a sourcing manager based in China to manage our sourcing and production on our behalf. Thankfully, she is still working with us over a year later today and has been a very valuable asset as she speaks both English and Chinese fluently. The second thing we learned is you must test everything! We have now added fabric testing as part of our production process. We also learned that transparency is very important to us as we want to know exactly how our product is sourced and produced. When a supplier cuts corners or tries to save money on our orders in any way without informing us we will not be happy campers. And as we mentioned earlier this has happened to us so we truly understand how customers may feel on knowing everything about their product. This is why we try to be as transparent as possible with our customers. Speaking of transparency, we had recently done an extra composition lab test on our hemp fabric just to be sure and we want to share the results with you below:
*When the hemp, organic cotton, and spandex yarn get spun to make the fabric it will never be the exact blend percentage mentioned on the tag but it will always be very close and within a few percentages.
Testing our materials sounds fun! What else can we test for? Testing for UPF perhaps? Or testing for anti-microbial levels? How about comparing WAMA Underwear fabric with other "sustainable" fabrics used in underwear? Got a better idea? Comment below and let us know!