For about six years now, as a part of our plan to eat food we have sold t-shirts with liberal, progressive and anti-war messages on them via the print-on-demand service CafePress. While CafePress is not perfect by a long stretch, we consider it a pretty good company to work with because it expands choice, not just for t-shirt wearers but for t-shirt designers too. CafePress’ existence has opened up the field of mass political expression beyond the traditional, stodgy campaign-based boundaries of old by allowing anybody with an idea to sell a variety of items with thousands of designs.
To its credit, CafePress features a number of shirts made by a company called American Apparel, which provides its workers with relatively high pay in a sweatshop-free environment. Because these shirts are made in the USA instead of being shipped across the Pacific Ocean on oil-leaky barges, their production is more environmentally friendly. Among these shirts is the organic cotton option, which provides an extra environmental bonus. When you see shirts for sale in our Irregular Goods political shop, our Time for Peace anti-war shop or our Godless Goods shop, you’ll see these and only these made in the USA, sweatshop-free, t-shirts.
For a long time now — over three years now — CafePress has been promising us that really, really soon they’d introduce black shirts made sweatshop-free to their lineup. And for a long time now CafePress has been letting those promises expire with no action. The latest version of this was that election season black t-shirt we were promised in the beginning of 2008 but that never came. And so, frankly, I’d given up on CafePress and its promises… just in time for them to finally come through.
Yesterday, with very little fanfare, CafePress introduced a black men’s fitted t-shirt and a black women’s fitted t-shirt to its set of available products. Both are made sweatshop-free by American Apparel in a Los Angeles factory with a solid set of employment standards that blow those cheap, exploitive made-in-China shirts out of the oily water they soak in. Made in the USA, the shirts don’t waste energy getting shipped across the world’s largest ocean. These shirts are also made using organic cotton, providing an additional environmental benefit.
Starting today, we’re very happy to be adding a new line of these organic black t-shirts to our offerings. Look for them. If you’re a shirt designer who cares about working conditions and environmental standards of production, consider adding these black shirts to your own line as a way of supporting the kind of economics that are more consonant with your ethical priorities.