Penny Jones, the founder of the White T-Shirt Co made contact with us recently to let us know that she was in business again, having closed her company in 2010 because her organic yarn supplier closed and she was reluctant to continue making T shirts out on an inferior fabric. Until she closed, Penny had received rave reviews for the near perfection of her T shirts, it takes a very picky kind of person -quality wise -to halt proceedings under that kind of love. But that’s what make her T Shirts The Best In The World.
She kindly sent me the long sleeve classic fitted shape to try and for £35, it is truly a prince among T Shirts. Soft, thick and smooth, with beautiful quality sewing on the seams and nicely long. I feel like I’ve been searching all my long life for a really good T Shirt, a proper grown up affair that understands my need for quality fabric and a stylish fit around a body that no longer wants too much to cling to it. What a joy to find one, then. We asked Penny a few questions about how she got it so right and why ethics in clothes matter….
Penny, above everything else, this is a damn good T shirt, how come you’ve got the quality, fit and feel so right?
Perseverance! The White T-Shirt Co is really the result of my own quest for the ‘perfect white tee’ and to me that does mean it has to tick all the right boxes without any compromise! I’ve grown up with quite severe eczema so all things natural and organic have always been really important to me but that’s no good if it doesn’t perform as well. Our tees are absolutely made to last and they can be washed and washed with no change but that’s not all down to the way they’re made, it’s down to the cotton we use. All our cotton is GOTS (global organic textile standard) certified so it is exceptionally soft and skin friendly but we also use a long staple cotton and particular weave which gives the cotton it’s lovely smooth feel and because it’s a tight knit will always keep its shape!
We are and honestly the Danish reputation for design and quality is well justified! We’re working very closely with a company called Novotex. Their founder Leif Nørgaard was one of the original pioneers in sustainable fashion and in fact Novotex were the first company in the world to launch organic cotton as a viable option. Leif sadly died in 2002 but his daughter Sanne has now picked up the reins so it’s lovely to see Leif’s vision carried on.
Fessing up here, i really haven’t paid much attention to organic yarns, but ever since Raina Plaza and the Fashion Revolution ‘Who Made Your Clothes?’ campaign, I’ve become much more concerned about where and how my clothes are made. Have you noticed a shift since you started in people’s attitudes?
It’s an interesting question because when we first started people knew we made great tees but the fact that they were organic was incidental but now we are defiantly see people actively seeking out ‘ethical’ alternatives – whether for environmental or social reasons. I think there has been a real shift in the way we all think and we do ask where are clothes came from. Equally we’re all realising the sustainable value of buying better but buying less – or making do and mend! Look at the rise in interest of sewing, baking and knitting!
I thinking Rana did come as a real wake up call to so many people – we’ve questioned our food origins for a while now but not our clothing origins and as Rana showed there can be just as much human misery behind what we wear. Interestingly enough Novotex’s garment manufacture, which has to meet all GOTS requirements, is in Ukraine so because we do know our own supply chain so well it’s been a really worrying few months thinking of all the friends we’ve made there. It’s certainly made us realise how vulnerable we all are which is why a global community is so important.
I hope that people see as a very inclusive brand – you always need a great tee no matter what your age or body shape. We do know that Mums have bought for daughters and sons which is lovely – I’m not sure how cool the recipients think that is of course!
In terms of ethics though I do think older women are more thoughtful about what they wear. I think the nurturing side of us comes out more but I also think it’s a maturity thing – as we get older we don’t want the latest trends we want style and investing in things which suits us and meet our life styles. I certainly ‘invest’ more wisely now and knowing where it’s coming from is without doubt increasingly important. I do think, however, the younger generation are also becoming more aware. Ethics are on their radar now. H&M and ASOS for example are doing some exceptional ‘cradle to grave’ work with their supply chains and encourage customers to return old clothing for recycling – moving towards a more circular economy so we use what we dispose of. Which brings me neatly to the last part of your questions. Our quality is frequently commented on and I love hearing how customers use their old tees – from dusters to hamster beds! That’s sustainability!
What about colour? Now I’ve found my favourite T shirt supplier, I want it in every colour under the sun…
Strangely enough we don’t just do white! From our original white we have grown into black and navy – the classic colours. We’ve also just had our first swatches of grey marl and a lovely greyish neutral which I’m personally quite excited about!
Penny’s suggestions for a first-time buy for us would be the best selling relaxed long sleeve scoop, although she swears by the relaxed vest which she wears underneath anything and everything.
From now on, I am not buying my T shirts from anywhere else. See more styles on The White T Shirt Co website