It was a pretty amazing factory. Absolutely massive, since they used to have hundreds of workers making fabric and garments for major American sportswear brands who have since universally gone overseas. Listen, I know we flog the idea of domestic manufacturing enough on our site, but just seeing the difference of fabric and construction quality between Columbiaknit shirts and the overseas stuff… well, it’s no shocker that Land’s End hasn’t maintained its reputation.
There’s an absolutely disturbing quantity of back stock in the factory. Unfortunately, most of it is in seriously spacious early 1990s sizes, built for an extra stocky rugby player. I’m 6’2″, 180 pounds, but a woman’s Medium was the nearest fit for me (very short sleeves and too-wide shoulders, though).
The factory is down to a half-dozen sewers, one knitting machine operator, and operating just a few days a week. We can’t tell you how excited we are to start more work with Columbiaknit – simply going through old fabrics to begin with, and working alongside Jordan to build on the simply detailed and well-fitting line that he began a year ago.
Our first project, aside from re-stocking our popular T-shirts and sweatshirts, is going to be a simple band-collar rugby shirt. The Columbiaknit rugby fabric has to be felt to be believed, and we’re all big fans of the classic rugby. Given the skyrocketing price of cotton and the vanishing numbers of skilled sewers, it won’t be easy – but we’re thrilled to begin work! In the meantime, if you’re a burly gent, there are roomy rugby shirts available directly from Columbiaknit for only $36. At 6’2″ and 180, a man’s Small is as good as it’ll get for now.
Speaking of Chouinard, I’d love to see a progressive company like Patagonia move their cotton knits production to a place like Columbiaknit. Patagonia would be well-served to bring the responsibility that led them to use only organic cottons to lead them towards domestic knitting, cutting, and sewing. Like organic cotton, it costs more and it’s well worth it. The facilities are all in place – let’s make it in the States!