Sunday, December 8, 2013

The T-Shirts in My Dresser Drawer

Planet Money Makes a T-Shirt

There is no article of apparel more common to every closet than the T-shirt.  From infants to grandfathers, from NYC to Beijing, T-shirts are an integral part of everyone’s wardrobe.
Why?  They are comfortable, easily laundered, available in thousands of colors and patterns, and can be personalized with logos.  But, above all, they are cheap!!  Not only reasonable, but down-right cheap.  Sure, there are "designer" shirts available at a heftier price point, but the vast majority of these garments are the common, hard wearing, everyday, cotton tops we wear nearly everyday.

I recently reviewed a web presentation by NPR (National Public Radio) on a project that began with the farming of cotton, through distribution of manufactured t-shirts to the consumer.

The US remains the leader in cotton farming and one example was given of a Mississippi farmer with a staff of 13 and  20 machines which harvested 13,000 bales per year which translates into 9.4million shirts!!!

Next the presentation took me to Indonesia where the cotton fiber was spun into yarn , then shipped to Bangladesh (and to Columbia) for sewing.

But, how could this shirt be produced so cheaply?  Clearly the overhead is much cheaper in the far East .  It turns out that the real savings are a result of reduced shipping costs.  From the US to Indonesia to Bangladesh and back to the US consumer the shipping costs were "far less than $1 per shirt".

I learned a great deal by viewing this instructional.  There is both video as well as written text.  Also included are additional references for further reading.  I recommend spending a few minutes at

1 comment:

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