Introducing a new line of Fairtrade fashion-inspired garments

Later this year Cottonridge will introduce a fashion-inspired SoftStretch hoodie and sweatshirt with Fairtrade accreditation. Here Richard Joyce, managing director, outlays the USPs of this new collection.

Q.  Can you describe the range in a nutshell?

A. Our new SoftStretch fabric combines a lightweight and stretchy weave. It’s a high quality yarn which gives a soft feel, close knit surface to the fabric which is ideal for printing onto. The garments are made from a 280gsm lightweight loopback fabric constructed so that it is very stretchy for extra comfort.

The new pullover hood features a modern cut with side pockets and a skinny cord. It’s not your average promo hoodie and is definitely a cut above the rest.

Q. What makes the SoftStretch Fashion range unique?

A. The fact the SoftStretch fabric is Fairtrade is pretty unique. The only similar product range that I am aware of in the printwear market is the Fair Share range by Continental Clothing. Neutral also stocks a Fairtrade hoodie, but it’s heavier than ours so it is aimed at a different market. These hoodies are expensive, but ours will come in at a lower price point.

The range’s main USPs are the stretchiness of the fabric, the fact it’s Fairtrade, the fine finish and the fashion cut.  Also it is 90% cotton and 10% polyester so the digital print guys will love it. The garment is pre-shrunk so we guarantee less than 5% shrinkage which is amazing for a garment with such a high cotton content.  In fact during our testing there was no shrinkage at all.

Q. What qualifies this range as being Fairtrade?

A. It is made using Fairtrade cotton which is imported from the Far East. It has all been audited through the whole supply chain by the Fairtrade Foundation. All workers along the supply chain receive a fair wage, our certified factories are all audited and inspected, as well as our accounts. The whole process is very highly policed along the way in order for the product to qualify as being Fairtrade.

Although everybody likes the idea of buying Fairtrade, only a few are prepared to pay for the end product. A lot of our hoodies are sold to printshops that then sell into universities and student bodies who are now demanding that only Fairtrade products are sold on campus, which actually reduces choice for the end-user as there are not many styles in Fairtrade garments. In my opinion, this is a bit unfair as they are increasing prices for hard up students, but this is what the student bodies are requesting and so we have to work with them. Our challenge was to come up with a good quality hoodie and sweatshirt at a price students can afford, which we eventually managed to do.

Q. Why did you bring this particular product to market?

A. We don’t like to do anything that anyone else is doing. If you look at the hoodies in our collection, each one has a point of difference to others in the market. We add extra features such as chunky drawstrings, phone pockets etc. We strive to give each product a USP. We never just sell on price even though our customers are often surprised at how competitive we can be against much larger distributors.

We are taking a bit of a risk adding this range to our collection given the rising price of cotton and import costs, but we think it’s worth it because no-one else is doing it and we believe we have found a niche.

Q. Who will be interested in the hoodie and sweatshirt?

A. The range is great for those who are looking to build a retail-style brand, because of the quality of the garment. I mean who wants to put a nice brand on a cheap promo hoodie?

Also, anyone who is ethical will also be interested in the pieces with their Fairtrade aspect. And lastly, anyone who just wants a great quality lightweight garment. There is a definite market for this collection.

Q. What garment decoration technique is best suited for the range?

A. The SoftStretch fabric comprises of 90% cotton and 10% polyester, which makes it ideal for direct to garment printing, which I think will be one of the bigger markets for it. You’ll be able to achieve some really nice, sharp, vibrant prints.

Q. Will you be bringing the SoftStretch range to Printwear & Promotion LIVE! in January?

A. Most definitely! We will be showing this great quality range off. Visitors will be able to feel the quality for themselves if they pay a visit to our stand.

Q. And finally, what colours and sizes is this range available in?

A. This unisex hoodie and sweatshirt is available in five stylish colourways; slate grey, burgundy, navy, black and cloud grey in sizes XS to XXL. Customers who like the quality of the garment and the feel of the fabric will be able to purchase cheaper, non-Fairtrade versions in the New Year.

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