Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

Family-owned, environmentally friendly, and Made in America.

A comfortable, 100 percent certified organic, Made in America T-shirt sounds like the stuff of dreams, right?

Not for the makers behind Green Label Organic (GLO), who say they are out to revolutionize the USA’s T-shirt market in favor of American workers and sustainable business operations.

Spouses Rain and George Lipson began organizing the company in the early 2000s. Rain, a lifelong environmentalist and George, a long-time T-shirt designer, were the perfect match to create GLO. 

The Lipsons decided to manufacturer their products in America to support the economy and workers, according to head marketing director Tommy Bailey. In doing this, GLO also keeps their environmental impact down by not having to send things across the globe, Bailey said.

“We try and keep everything as close to us as possible,” Bailey said.

The company’s headquarters is nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Floyd, Virginia, and GLO prints and dyes everything in North Carolina to keep shipping costs down. The company also uses American-based partners and suppliers throughout the production process.

It takes several hundred people to create these T-shirts from start to finish. There’s no definitive length of time to make a shirt, because of all the steps in the spinning, sewing and cutting process that ensures the customer will be receiving the highest quality shirt.

GLO understands the environmental impact produced by clothing companies that manufacture offshore produce and the sweatshop conditions that those products are often created in, Bailey said. GLO keeps things made in America so the company doesn't have to worry about any of its clothes being made by abused laborers, usually children, in confined, unsafe factories, he added.

GLO uses organic cotton to keep the company’s environmental impact practically at zero. Conventional cotton is second to only coffee when it comes to pesticide crop use, Bailey noted. It takes one-third of a pound of herbicides and defoliants to produce just one conventional cotton t-shirt, he added.

GLO is also dedicated to producing a high-quality T-shirt. Garment dying, the special printing technique used by the company, doesn’t fade, crack or come off like most other T-shirt designs because the dye is printed into the fabric instead of onto it.

Most screen printed shirts sold in the United States use a liquid base, which can be filled with heavy chemicals and known carcinogens. Instead, GLO utilizes a low-impact dye with no PVCs or harsh chemicals, Bailey said.

Because GLO uses this dying process, it changes a lot about the shirts overall.

Regular screen printed shirts don’t breathe well because of the layers of plastic on the shirt that constrict air flow, Bailey said. Instead, GLO shirts breathe easily in heat, and to maintain the shirt’s high comfort level, GLO doesn’t put any scratchy tags in their shirts — and pre-shrinks the shirts so they won’t shrink in the wash.

You can find GLO shirts for men, women and children at popular stores like REI and Whole Foods, as well as outfitting shops nationwide and online here.

Green Label Organic is offering Alliance for American Manufacturing readers a coupon code that will get you 10 percent off your next GLO purchase. Use AAM10 at checkout. The code expires on July 31.