January 25, 2017
As you probably already know, we make all of our bicycle panniers, duffle bags, totes, backpacks, and hip packs in house in Portland, Oregon from Made in USA materials. This is a fact of which we are incredibly proud. It's a matter of principle, convenience, sustainability, scalability upon which our business is built and firmly rooted.
So...we decided we wanted to make some bandanas to add some merch to our lineup. It seemed a simple enough of an idea. Lots of people use them and we wanted to up our accessories game a little bit. Our brand awareness is growing and there are fans out there that would cherish a limited run bandana adorned with a cool print and the North St. logo.
In our minds we picture Dr. Alan Grant from Jurassic Park wearing one as a neckerchief while simultaneously looking debonair and down to earth--a near impossible task to pull off.
We thought it would be simple to make happen. As it turns out not so much.
We were in search of a USA made 100% cotton fabric with a tight weave that would allow us to screenprint our unique design. As we work with 1000 denier CORDURA® nylon and heavy duty #10 duck canvas to make our bags, we were lacking the specific machinery and tooling for a couple of key fine finishing steps to make bandanas.
Accordingly, we were seeking out some pre-made bandana blanks that we would be able to send to our (awesome) screenprinter here in Portland, Oregon. After doing some research online and making a few phone calls we found that not only were there next to zero options for USA made bandana blanks (pre cut and edge finished), much less no tightly woven cotton fabric in bulk available.
We were perplexed.
After some headscratching, we called up Bandanaman.com to see what they might say. Now we're paraphrasing here, but we learned that the machinery for this type of textile weaving is virtually non-existent in the United States. According to our friends at Bandanaman, after the passage of the Environmental Protection Act in 1970, near the entirety of denim and woven cotton manufacturing industry was shut down in the US and pushed overseas. Apparently it is near impossible to source fabric for bandanas (a lightweight, tightly woven, cotton fabric) of any quality in the United States. In fact, Pakistan, Turkey, China, and Vietnam are the leading production locales.
This project was still important for us to pull off, so we sourced some Midnight Blue blanks from Bandanaman and sent them to our printer here in Portland. We are pleased with the end result but we have aspirations to provide a fully USA made product for our fans.
If anyone has any suggestions or leads on high quality 100% cotton bandana fabric made in the USA, please drop us a line at email@example.com.