With our Made in USA collection, we’re exploring what it means to manufacture products locally. We appreciate the efficiencies produced by the global economy, but want to minimize our footprint with a concentration of manufacturing here in the Pacific Northwest.
We're glad people are starting to ask companies tough questions, like What does "Made in USA" mean to your brand? Where do your raw materials come from? How are they sourced? At Wool&Prince, a Made in USA tag really does mean just that—we design, source, and sew the shirts in America.
I hope you’re as inspired by the results as we are.
NW Work Shirt
SOURCE RAW MATERIALS
East of the Cascade Range, where the wool is grown, the climate tends to be extreme—in the summertime, temperatures reach the upper 90s. In the winter, it gets down into the teens. Luckily, sheep have evolved as domesticated animals for over 10,000 years and grow a fleece that is breathable, water-resistant, and retains warmth even when it's wet.
CLEAN THE WOOL
SAN ANGELO, TX
Next, the "greasy" wool is trucked from Portland to Bollman Industries in Texas. Bollman is one of the two remaining "scourers" in the US. At their facility, the wool goes through a series of soapy washes to remove dirt, vegetable matter, and excess lanolin. Once that process is complete, the remaining clean wool is half the weight of the original greasy wool.
DYE, SPIN, WEAVE & FINISH
Once the wool is all scoured and clean, it gets trucked back up north to Pendleton Woolen Mills®. Now it’s time to make the fabric. First up is the dying process—wherein 500 lb. cylinders of wool are lowered (by crane!) into a vat of colored dye and hot water. It takes 3-4 hours for the fiber to become saturated with a new hue.
Next, the wool gets carded, separated into strands of roving, and spun into yarn. The bobbins of yarn are then carted to a steam box filled with 200-degree water vapor that causes fibers to lock together and hold their twist.
The yarn is then designated for the warp or the weft. The warp yarns go longways and the weft yarns go back and forth horizontally on the dobby looms. The looms produce about an inch of fabric every few seconds. The last step is finishing and inspection. The fabric is washed, dried, and steamed to give it a soft, smooth feel.
Mill photos by Naoki Kokubo
CUT, SEW & FULFILL
After passing quality control, the fabric travels 25 miles southwest to Portland for cut and sew. Our man Mike, of Design Contract Sewing, manages the process from start to finish. Zhu, Zhen, and Cheng sew the shirts. Mike is an industry veteran who hails from Vietnam, and his dream team of sewers has a combined 60+ years of experience.
For this inaugural collection, we only made 60 shirts. Each one has been individually inspected for quality by Wool&Prince's founder, Mac. Instead of shipping shirts to our fulfillment center in St. Louis, we’ll be shipping directly to you from Portland.