Introducing The All Natural T-Shirt™
After more than two years of development, we're proud to introduce The All Natural T-Shirt™ — the best feeling tee you've ever worn. Made entirely from organic cotton and natural dyes and manufactured completely in the U.S.A., once you put one on you'll never want to wear anything else.
Nothing demonstrates the Native Color mission better than The All Natural T-Shirt™. Each shirt is made with 100% organic cotton grown on a family-owned farm in West Texas, cut and sewn in North Carolina using the highest quality construction, and then dyed by hand in the Pacific Northwest using all-natural dyes and traditional techniques.
When we set out to build Native Color two-and-a-half years ago, The All Natural T-Shirt™ was the goal we had in mind.
What Makes Our T-Shirts Different?
The cotton T-shirt is one of the most loved articles of clothing in the world. First worn by the U.S. Navy in the Spanish-American war, the T-shirt jumped from military and workwear staple to style icon in post-WWII America. Young veterans, feeling out of place in polite society after what they experienced overseas, began adopting a tougher-looking style and racing "chopped" Harley Davidson motorcycles up and down the California highways.
When heartthrob Marlon Brando donned this new rebel uniform of T-shirt and denim jeans in 1953's The Wild One, style around the world was changed forever.
But as T-shirts have become entirely commonplace, so too, have the long list of environmental and ethical problems tied to their production. Heavy pesticide use, microplastics, toxic dyes and chemicals, untreated runoff, low wages, and harsh factory conditions all add up to make Fashion the second most polluting industry in the world after Oil & Gas.
Unfortunately, even most organic clothing has a harsh impact on the environment. The dyeing and finishing process is by far the most polluting stage of clothing production, relying on toxic chemicals and synthetic dyes that often end up getting dumped straight into local waterways.
When we set out to develop The All Natural T-Shirt™, we decided to scrap everything we knew and start from scratch — what would a responsibly-made T-shirt look like, constructed entirely here in the U.S.?
Texas-Grown Organic Cotton
Each one of our T-shirts starts in the ground. Our All Natural T-Shirts™ are made from 100% Texas-grown organic cotton planted by 7th-generation farmer Gary Oldham. Gary's family has been growing cotton on the same land in Samnorwood, Texas (Pop. 51) for more than 100 years, and has been certified organic since 1992.
While T-shirts today come in a wide range of fabrics and blends — often a mix of cotton, polyester, and rayon — we feel that there is no equal in comfort or sustainability to organic cotton. It grows in the ground, it's cultivated without the use of toxic pesticides, it can be spun into yarn easily without the use of solvents and chemicals, and it will biodegrade naturally when its useful life is over.
Luckily, we found a farming partner that felt as strongly about the importance of organic cotton as we do. "Good for man and good for the land" is the motto of the Oldham farm and cotton business, S.O.S. From Texas. With each All Natural T-Shirt™ sold we help Gary and his family carry on their tradition of stewardship for the rich Texas soil.
Heavyweight, Tubular Construction
While the type of cotton is important, a farmer can only do so much to help produce the perfect T-shirt. After the Oldhams harvest their cotton every November, it must be ginned to remove burrs and seeds, spun into yarn, knitted, cut, and sewn into the final pattern.
While most of this work is done outside of the U.S.A. today, we're proud to have our shirts manufactured entirely in North Carolina at some of the few remaining factories in America that still know how to produce T-shirts at a high level.
Unlike most mass-produced T-shirts today that are sewn with a side seam, our All Natural T-Shirts™ are tubular knit in the traditional style that Marlon Brando and James Dean loved. That means the cotton yarn is actually knitted into a circle to create the body of the shirt so that there are no itchy seams and no unfortunate warping and shrinking over time. The resulting 5.75 oz, heavyweight jersey produces a T-shirt that is built to stand up to everyday wear — wash after wash, season after season.
Dyed By Hand Using Colors From Nature
What truly separates Native Color T-shirts from others on the market, however, is our commitment to natural dyes. What inspired us from the very beginning was the idea of an apparel company that produced everyday essentials dyed only with colors from nature — it's right there in the name of our company.
While some Native Color products are dyed in-house at our Austin HQ, we rely heavily on outside experts to produce the quality and range of colors at scale that we rely on. No one plays a bigger role in this process than Kathy Hattori of Botanical Colors. Based out of her studio in Seattle, Kathy has played a vital role in reintroducing American apparel companies to natural dyes, and sourcing raw materials from around the world for use in production here in the U.S.A.
Working with Kathy and her team, we have been able to develop a wide range of colorful earth tones for our T-shirts using 100% natural, botanical dyes. From indigo to iron, madder to fustic and pomegranate, our All Natural T-Shirts™ are dyed using only plants and minerals. The cultivation and use of these dyes isn't something outside the natural ecosystem, but entirely part of it — helping to build towards a closed cycle that can one day be sustained indefinitely.
Made to be Worn Every Day
The All Natural T-Shirt™ wouldn't live up to its name if it was something that needed to be handled delicately and kept in the closet for special occasions. The Native Color mission is to show that it's possible to make clothing that's good for people and good for the environment, and still make it something you want to wear every day.
While each T-shirt will take on its on unique fade pattern with each wear and each wash, that's the beauty of a natural, living garment. We hope that this process is part of the reason our T-shirts become your all-time favorites — the ones you reach for every time the laundry is done and build up a closet-full over time.
One day when its useful life is over, each All Natural T-Shirt™ can be recycled or left to biodegrade naturally in the soil, reducing waste and starting the whole cycle over again.