Cut and Sew

Unionwear Wins Inaugural Reshoring Award

| Posted by unionwear

The Reshoring Initiative and SEAMS, the domestic textile manufacturing association, presented their inaugural Manufacturing Reshoring Award to Unionwear for bringing cut and sew jobs back to the USA. Unionwear’s 180 workers in Newark, NJ make baseball hats, backpacks, and other bags for the promotional products, fashion, and uniform industries.

Unionwear’s technological innovations have leveled the playing field with imports by highlighting small batch, quick turn manufacturing. Unionwear’s predictive configuration tool at http://www.trillionhats.com allows it to sell custom made products using a traditional webstore experience rather than a cumbersome online configurator, while its mobile ERP platform automates purchasing, production scheduling, manufacturing, and shipping. The result is “made to order” as seamless as ordering from Amazon.

The baseball cap industry’s mass relocation to China since the 1990’s, and Unionwear’s success in keeping manufacturing stateside throughout, was thoroughly explored earlier this month in the three part serial podcast documentary “American Icon” on iHeartRadio’s Red Pilled America podcast.

The Reshoring Award was presented at SEAMS’ annual conference in Savannah,GA on May 9, 2019. At the event, Contempora Fabrics won the Textile Reshoring Award and Mara Hoffman Designs won the Brand Reshoring Award. SEAMS members had reasons to celebrate, with domestic textile manufacturing showing strong, sustainable growth to $70 billion and over 100,000 jobs, numbers that will continue to climb due to the recent tariffs and the upcoming presidential election, when interest in “USA Made” traditionally peaks.

Leader Bag’s Domestic Manufacturing Challenges

| Posted by unionwear

How did Leader Bag Co come to be?

Leader Bag Co was born from a love of beautiful design, and the desire to create a family-centered product that is truly missing from the marketplace.

When Meghan Nesher was pregnant with her son, Julien, she went shopping for a diaper bag that would work for both she and her husband. Coming up empty-handed, she opted for a Brooklyn Industries messenger bag; great for function, not so much for fashion. After a few months of use, she switched to the Fjällräven backpack; stylish and more comfortable, but not super functional. It was around this time that Meghan and her sister-in-law Liz Elliott, also a new mom, had their lightbulb moment: Why isn’t there a diaper bag that is beautifully crafted, simply designed and practical for both mom and dad?

Leader Bag Co :: Baby Business

Meghan, Liz and third sister-in-law Jess Nesher formed and funded Leader Bag Co as a family business in 2013. Since inception, we’ve enlisted the help of technical designer and manufacturing guru Jay O’Neill to bring our idea to life, and the uber-talented Lotta Nieminen to create our brand aesthetic.

Your brand is still only a year old, but what’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

As a team of four, we all bring different strengths to the table, but at the same time, we all have strong opinions about pretty much every aspect of the business. We value playing to each other’s unique talents, but it’s not always easy with lots of cooks in the kitchen. We are constantly perfecting our team’s balance.

Manufacturing in the US – we were totally warned over and over that this was going to be difficult. All of us are perfectionists, and we’re all demanding, and I don’t think Unionwear knew we’d be so high-maintenance. Lucky for us, they have tons of pride in their work and are always striving to exceed expectations – which they did and continue to do.

Best thing you’ve learned?

Mistakes are opportunities, either to learn from or to create something new.

Your signature diaper backpack, the Julien, is a slick answer to a universal need; what kind of R&D did you pursue in the early stages?

Since we were all new moms, we did a lot of research for ourselves in the diaper bag market. We spent time looking at bags we didn’t like – even bought a few to compare. At the same time, we collected non-diaper bags we liked too, mostly based on modern aesthetics and strong craftsmanship.

We made lists of all the gear we stuffed into our baby bags and measured everything to make sure we designed the right size storage. We talked through where we would take the bag and what features we might need; for example, a hook to hang it in a bathroom stall while you change baby at a restaurant.

We collected tons of images on shared Pinterest boards – including inspiration for the brand, the bag and the lifestyle we wanted to promote.

Jay led us through multiple rounds of bag sketches – all different flavors and styles – until we settled on one we liked. He took the sketches to technical drawings, collected materials and had samples made. We went through at least three rounds of samples with Unionwear before we got our pack just right.

We put our samples on everyone’s backs, asked for feedback and took photos. We were careful to remove any design elements that seemed “girlie”, and made sure the shoulder straps were long enough to fit a really tall dad.

What features make the Julien awesome for carrying baby essentials?

The fact that it’s a backpack is key. We are all about leaving both hands free for tending to baby and being fully involved in family activities. Style-wise, the backpack is better for dad too – he’ll feel much more comfortable than if he were asked to carry a one-shoulder bag.

Ultimately, the Julien is awesome because of its storage and organization. We loved the idea of doing a drop-in “pouch” that can house some basics like a change mat, a few diapers, diaper cream and wipes. This way, you can just reach in and grab it for a quick change while you’re out.

We also made sure there were tons of compartments for all the essential gear. Outside, there are four decent-sized pockets for easy access, plus a clasp for hanging your keys. We also added stroller straps and hooks so you can easily hang it on your stroller when you don’t want to carry. Inside, there are four baby bottle (or water bottle) pockets, a sleeve for the change kit (or even a computer or iPad), a zipper pocket, and a few other larger pocket compartments. It’s wipe-clean and very utilitarian, but you wouldn’t necessarily know it from the outside.

When you’re running on no sleep and wearing the parental uniform of tracksuit pants and an old t-shirt, why is a luxe bag like the Julien important?

Being a parent isn’t always an elegant, effortless job. Especially when you’re a new parent running on empty and feeling overwhelmed.

The Julien immediately elevates your look: leather and canvas with rose gold details, all mixed with fine Made in the USA craftsmanship. And it’s effortless – it looks great with everything, is comfortable and keeps you organized so you can focus on what’s important: being present for your kid. There is absolutely nothing more chic.

Who else is making rad baby-related carry? Who inspires you to be better?

No one, in our opinion, is making a great diaper bag we’d want to carry! We do like Fawn and Cub’s change mat, and Ida Ising’s change mat/bag design.

Accessory and clothing companies outside of the diaper bag industry inspire us to be better, and companies that are producing their goods in the USA: Clare Vivier, Emerson Fry, Mansur Gavriel, Marine Layer, imogene + willie, etc.

What’s next for Leader?

There is a ton of room for us in the baby market right now. We see a lack of simple but beautiful and useful design, especially in kid accessories – which creates a whole lot of space for Leader to play.

What do you personally carry daily? And why?

Our Leader bags, of course!

How To Find Any Cut and Sew Contractor in Minutes

| Posted by unionwear

American Success Stories

The All New Chrysler 200

Filmed in Newark, NJ at Unionwear

Chrysler is proud to celebrate the individuals who embody the new spirit of success.

Matthew Burnett:  My name is Matthew Burnett and I am the Co-Founder of Maker’s Row.

Tanya Menendez:  I am Tanya Menendez, Co-Founder of Maker’s Row. Maker’s Row is an online market place that helps businesses and brands, find American manufacturers.

Matthew Burnett:  My background is an industrial design and I used to design watches and I decided to start my own line.  I was manufacturing watches overseas for about 3 years and during that time I found that you are really are rolling the dice as a small business owner.  I don’t have the time to spend the month oversee the product quality control, but I would just crossing my fingers every time I was ordering something; one time I okayed a sample, 3 months later I get a mass order; it looks nothing like the sample that I approach; so that’s about $40,000 down the drain.  Small businesses can take that type of hit.

Tanya Menendez:  We’re able to produce smaller batches.  We’re able to oversee the production, and they are able to respond to market trends in season.  They’re able to produce that in a few weeks and have it to market.

Matthew Burnett:  We wanted to create a resource in which be able to find the closest factory with the right pricing or right minimum quantity that you would be able to work with in under a week.  It’s almost like a dating site, because there are so many different personality traits that you are looking for to find that perfect match.  I think the American dream can evolve to something we’re now people are following their fashion.  There are tons of designers, that used to work for large brands and now they are starting their own product-based businesses; because now they have a resource to find these manufactures.

Great background shots in there:

  1. Unionwear embroidering hats. We embroider hats on the panels before the panels are sewn, for better quality, larger decoration area, and lower cost.
  2. Our Thread library of over 2000 colors, organized by color, counted for 20 head machines, sorted by number, and kept clean in airtight bags.
  3. Attaching a visor to a baseball cap.
  4. Stuffing a visor.
  5. Sewing the topstitch rows on a visor.
  6. Attaching a size strip along the perimeter of a baseball cap.
  7. Closing a tote bag.
  8. Sewing up the T-bottom on a tote bag.
  9. Laying up bag fabric to cut 1000 totes.
  10. Great outside shots of the Unionwear factory.

Bag Cut and Sew Contract Work FAQ

| Posted by unionwear

Unionwear has curated over 40,000 styles of bags (50 body styles, 360 color combinations, 5 fabrics) to filter through on our website at https://unionwear.com/bags/.  Minimums are 48 units, and prices are 25 to 40 percent off for wholesale clothing companies and decorators.  All these bags are made to order, so slight modifications are available with minimums of 150 units.

Will Unionwear custom manufacture my own bag design using specific materials?

If you are looking for a domestic manufacturer of a product you have already sampled and already have sources for your materials our minimums are 300 units per style.

See below for minimums on sourcing and pricing on patternmaking and sampling.

What does Unionwear need to give clients a quote on cut and sew?

Fastest and cheapest: find a similar bag at https://unionwear.com/bags/.  Note that we offer discounts of 25 to 40 percent off of our list prices to wholesale clothing companies and decorators.  Send the link to our product page, or the item code,  and a description (which must include dimensions, materials, and quantity) of how you want to customize that product.

When moving production from overseas:  Send us a sample of your product, tell us what you want to change about it, what we can’t change about it,  and let us know what your unit budget is.   We will then let you know what we are able to do in your price range.

If this is a new product you have designed–We need dimensions, visuals, and quantity range estimates, and what design or functionality elements are critical, so we can make re-engineering recommendations to keep domestic sewing costs down (our specialty!).

Ideal:  send us an actual sample of your or a similar product along with notes of how your product differs.

Almost as good:  a TECH PACK–drawings of all bag features, inside and out, with dimensions, along with your fabric and trim guidelines if we are sourcing for you, or descriptions of the materials you will be providing us.  You can even send us links to photos you find online of other products so we can see how you want certain items finished (as in you like the gusset from bag A, the zipper from bag B, etc.).

Where do I send this stuff?

Fax: 973 497 7708
Email: sales@unionwear.com
Shipping address: Unionwear attn: Colin Greene, 305 Third Ave W, Newark, NJ 07107.

How long does it take for Unionwear to quote a custom job?

We can usually get you a quote on a modified Unionwear pattern in 24 hours.  A totally custom quote will take 2-3 days from the time you get us everything we need to know. Any quotes requiring sourcing may take longer as we have less control over vendors quoting us.

What are Unionwear’s minimum runs?

To tweak an existing product, minimums are usually 300 units. To create a new product, our minimum order is $5000 with a minimum of 300 units per style/colorway per order.

Will Unionwear source materials for clients?

Unionwear has thousands of materials in inventory to choose from and over one hundred fabric and trim vendors.  If Unionwear stocks your material, there are no minimums.

You are welcome to source materials yourself and just use Unionwear for the cut and sew work. If you require a complete package…

If your  materials request can be sourced from our existing vendors, such as a special color of a fabric or a special width of a webbing we already carry, we will base your minimums on our minimum purchase (around 300 units for custom fabric for example).  If we need to find materials from new vendors, we require higher minimums (around 1500 units for custom fabric for example).

What charges and collateral materials does Unionwear need to supply a sample or go right into production?

If this is a modification of a product already on unionwear.com, the sampling cost is $75, and no patterns are required, but foolproof  explanations of the modifications will be required to avoid multiple sampling charges.

If this is a new product:

To avoid pattern-making charges, send patterns along with finished dimensions and seam allowances.

If we are not using stock materials, you will need to provide us with all materials.  If we are sourcing non stock materials for you, all costs associated with receiving sample materials will be quoted to you and they must be prepaid in addition to any pattern or sampling charges.

If you would like Unionwear to make your patterns, Unionwear needs at a minimum visuals (drawings, links, samples) and finished dimensions.   Any curved lines must be drawn to scale, and all dimensions between trims must be communicated (such as the distance from a buckle to the edge of the bag).

Unionwear charges a minimum of $75 for pattern making and an additional $75 for sample making, with a maximum of $15 for every pattern that needs to be created for the pattern making and $15 for every separate piece of fabric involved in the sample for sample making.

If the product requires embroidery, there is a charge of $25 for one embroidery, and a separate charge for digitizing the design for embroidery if a .dst file is not provided.

What is the lead time for sampling with and without patternmaking?

Sampling takes six to ten business days from receipt of all collateral materials. Sampling with patternmaking takes 11 to 15 business days receipt of all collateral materials.

What is the lead time for production?

Normal turn time is 3-4 weeks from receipt of all materials.

Unionwear in Wearables Fashion Sense Channel “USA Made” segment

| Posted by unionwear

The resurgence of domestic apparel manufacturing (including Unionwear) featured on the Wearables Fashion Sense Channel this month. All of these brands are available from your local promotional products professional, screen printer, or embroiderer.

Headwear Cut and Sew Contract Work FAQ

| Posted by unionwear

www.Unionwear.com features dozens of hat patterns–snapbacks, campers, five panel, buckets, boonies to name a few–offered in a dozen fabrics in 25 or more colors, with almost unlimited customization options. We offer discounts of 25 to 40 percent off of our list prices to wholesale clothing companies and decorators.

What does Unionwear need to give clients a quote on cut and sew?

For any kind of sewn headwear, its easiest to start with a similar product on our web site, www.unionwear.com at the Hats Made to Order tab. Send the link to our product page, or the item code, and a description of how you want to customize that product.

If this is a new product you have designed:

If this is a new product you have designed–We need dimensions, visuals, and quantity range estimates, and what design or functionality elements are critical, so we can make re-engineering recommendations to keep domestic sewing costs down (our specialty!).

Ideal: send us an actual sample of your or a similar product along with notes of how your product differs

Almost as good: a TECH PACK–drawings of all features, inside and out, with dimensions, along with your fabric and trim guidelines if we are sourcing for you, or descriptions of the materials you will be providing us. You can even send us links to photos you find online of other products so we can see how you want certain items finished.

Where do I send this stuff? 

Fax: 973 497 7708
Email: sales@unionwear.com
Shipping address: Unionwear attn: Colin Greene, 305 Third Ave W, Newark, NJ 07107.

How long does it take for Unionwear to quote a custom job? 

We can usually get you a quote on a modified Unionwear pattern in 24 hours. A totally custom quote will take 2-3 days from the time you get us everything we need to know. Any quotes requiring sourcing may take longer as we have less control over vendors quoting us.

What are Unionwear’s minimum runs? 

To customize any style of headwear with stock patterns, materials and trims, 72 units (though 144 units gives you a big price break)

To create a new hat style expect to spend a minimum of $5000 on contract work on your product line over the course of a year, with a minimum of 300 units per style/colorway per order.

Will Unionwear source materials for clients? 

Unionwear has thousands of materials in inventory to choose from and over one hundred fabric and trim vendors. If Unionwear stocks your material, there are no minimums.

If your materials request can be sourced from our existing vendors, such as a special color of a fabric, the minimum is 800 units. If we need to find materials from new vendors, the minimum is 3200 units. Custom dye lots are 10,000 units. You are welcome to source materials yourself and just use Unionwear for cut and sew.

What charges and collateral materials does Unionwear need to supply a sample or go right into production? 

If this is a modification of a product already on unionwear.com, the sampling cost is $50, plus digitizing charges of a .dst file is not provided.

If this is a new product, send patterns along with a tech pack and seam allowances. If we are not using stock materials, you will need to provide us with all materials. If we are sourcing non stock materials for you, all costs associated with receiving sample materials will be quoted to you and they must be prepaid in addition to any pattern or sampling charges.

What is the lead time for sampling? 

Sampling takes three to five business days from receipt of all collateral materials.

Are there any other set up charges before production?

Most new headwear patterns will require dies, which will be quoted when we see the patterns (minimum of $400). For smaller production runs, some patterns can be hand cut, for a surcharge.

What is the lead time for production? 

Normal turn time is 3-4 weeks from receipt of all materials.