When we first considered how to create custom clothing for our customers, there were a variety of factors we considered. We wanted to specialize in small batch production. We would only make what each store needed to save on clothing waste, and we would find a method that meant a one of a kind shirt would still be affordable for our customers.
Our research determined that Direct To Garment, or DTG, printing was exactly what our company needed. Water-based inks mean that it’s safe for our employees to work with and our customers to wear. The machine prints directly onto the fabric, meaning there’s less physical waste from the printing process.
We also love how customizable, colourful, and detailed the images we produce are. And with a fifteen-minute printing process, you can get your product with same day delivery (heck, you can get a custom sweater over your lunch break if you wanted to). We’ve fallen in love with our DTG Printer, and we think you will too.
Small batch production
One of the leading causes of pollution in the world currently is clothing manufacturing. Huge amounts of water, land, and other resources are used to create a fast fashion industry where it’s cheaper to throw out old styles than and buy the latest trend. Stores that don’t sell their clothing often end up having to throw out styles at the end of the season.
At Harmony, we only produce what we know we’ll sell. This means that sometimes we run out quickly, but we’ll never have leftover clothing going to a landfill. We also love that we get to make something completely unique for our customers. When you order a sweater, greeting card, or engravable pendant, it makes it more special that we know it’s going directly to you. And our small batch, in-house production means we can customize and create something as unique as you are.
To be honest, this was a tough one. We know cotton isn’t the most environmentally friendly commodity, and many of the cotton producers in the world are subjected to awful working environments. That’s why we source our clothing directly from the producers, and buy sweaters and T-shirts for our DTG and embroidery from companies like Gildan who are working to remedy the issues around cotton production.
Cotton remains one of the softest, longest wearing materials out there. When cotton was introduced to the west, it revolutionized fashion, and is still a material that’s hard to beat.
If Harmony is a Fair Trade organization, why have they never registered? This is a question we get asked a lot. It started out as a bit of a fluke: thirty years ago when Harmony was first founded, there wasn’t a readily available model for how fair-trade clothing companies worked, and most Fair Trade organizations focused on coffee and produce. So we made a simple rule: fair pay for fair work.
So then why doesn’t Harmony register with a Fair Trade organization now? When a company registers as Fair Trade, an outside body creates the standards of practice and sets prices. This body then communicates with the producers. Many small businesses producing the products can’t afford to buy into fair trade, and once they do, lose much of their agency as a business to the demands of the regulating body. It also works off mass production, lots of people making similar products in huge quantities, which we also don’t prescribe to because of our environmental values.
Our method of directly trading with our producers gives more freedom to set their own price and decide what they want to produce. It also means we as a company have more of a say in the products we sell. We source directly from our producers in countries like Thailand, India, Bali, and China so that we can find ethical products for our stores. We work hard to make fair trade available for a fair price in Canada, so that it’s easier to make a global difference at a local level.