PAG have been distributing Gildan since Gildan first sold a T-shirt in Europe. We are the only UK distributor under the same ownership (of the original four distributors with two companies having ceased trading and the third having been sold). What has this got to do with Softstyle T-shirts? Well we remember Gildan before the Softstyle and have been along for the ride since the start:
The Softstyle shirts, particularly the ones made for European sale, are primarily manufactured in Bangladesh. Gildan purchased the nearly new factory in 2010 for 15 Million dollars. Big money deal, investing in manufacturing capacity and expertise.
If you purchased a one year old car, the expectation would be that it needed little more than a tank of petrol – Right? Gildan however immediately re-invested in the two buildings. Auditing the structure with a US based engineering firm and spending a further million dollars on fire escapes, industrial elevator and a water treatment plant. The facility employed 2000 people at the time, 2000 people working in a safe environment & for an employer that follows the rules. One recent fire drill – four floors of employees were evacuated in a span of six minutes.
At the time of the Rana Plaza building colapse in 2013: Gildan’s facility was one of only 200 that were certified by WRAP – that means they were in the 4% doing it right & before the spotlight was pointed at garment manufacture.
At the risk of going a little off piste – The recent Grenfell Tower fire in west London (about 4 miles from our warehouse) was a very scary reminder of how important safety regulation (& following regulation) can be – but also points to the importance of being invested in the long term outcome of our choices. I doubt the £2 per square meter saving (by NOT using the fireproof cladding !*!*XX!) would have been considered if the residents had been making the choice. Such a shockingly decision, I believe, can only be made when you insulate the decision maker from the potential consequences of the choice.
For Gildan – The advantages of factory ownership include the ability to manufacture consistently and with less faults but they are even clearer in regard to labour standards and infrastructure. Gildan have no buck to pass – their aim is to set the standard higher.
These standards are not limited to infrastructure and labour, they extend to For example Gildan was the first manufacturer (in the wholesale imprinted active-wear industry) to obtain the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certification
With their facility up to standard, the original Mens and Ladies T-shirt started adding colours (as of writing it has 55 colours in the mens) and growing in sales. The Ringspun fabric and EuroFit has become very popular. From Music Merch to Retailers (who love to roll the sleeves) it has become an industry favourite.
In recent years the fabric has been used in more garments. Long sleeves, Vests, Kids and Polo Shirts are all part of the Softstyle range.
The soft-style polo shirt and Ladies polo are new this year & the first garment in the range that are not being sold in North America. It will be interesting if this is the first of many products made for the EU or remain something special.
Disclaimer PAG was established in 1969. We distribute clothing and therefore do have a little bias – but we also have a lot of experience, a reputation for honesty and product knowledge. We hope the honest knowledge bit comes over strongly and always try to keep our bias in check!