NPR's Planet Money team is doing a week-long examination of a t-shirt's life, which got us thinking about the life of a RAYGUN shirt. Planet Money's shirt hops from cotton fields in America to processing in Indonesia to sewing in Pakistan or Bangladesh to printing to sale.
Our shirts do a lot less traveling. In fact, our t-shirts never leave America from start to finish. The cotton is sourced in America from various growers and processed into thread by American mills. American Apparel, the largest domestic garment maker, dies, cuts, and sews the blank shirts in Los Angeles.
The tags that are sewn into some of our shirts are printed in Los Angeles, and the hang-tags we attach to the shirts are printed and holed by Garner Printing in Des Moines, using paper milled in the Midwest (usually Wisconsin).
The printing is done by extremely good-looking Midwesterners at our space in Des Moines. The inks and screens we use come from Northwest Graphic Supply in Minneapolis and the presses we print on are made by Workhorse in Arizona.
We don't plaster signs all over the store, but 95% of RAYGUN's cash is generated by American-made products, and by American companies that pay fair wages to their employees.
We don't do it for the money. Really, we're kind of at a competitive disadvantage cost-of-goods-wise with most of our competitors in our price-point. But since we don't have to answer to investors or the market, we can do whatever we want, and since we're gullible idealists, we believe that we should treat others the way we want to be treated (aww shucks). And we'd like all the lives behind the life of a RAYGUN shirt to be as good as possible.