ISO Sweat-free discounted t-shirt: Is this a mythical beast?

American Apparel is too goddamn expensive.

I remember when American Apparel first started up and they were all up in that “fair wages, fair day’s work” thang. Then the whole thing transitioned into cracked-out seemingly-underage models posing with that pouty, poufy “I just got hit in the face by a brick” look, and seems like people forgot a lot of the labor issues. I hear a lot about how AA is no longer such an industry leader in terms of fair labor practices, and now that I’m looking for reasonably priced tees, I’m quite stymied.

You see, inspired by recent crafty things like Felt Club & Unique LA, I decided to get back to handpainting tees like I did a long-ass time ago. But I need shirts. Shirts I can AFFORD. American Apparel is not affordable–not in any volume, at least. There are these shirts from No Sweat, but they’re still too pricy for me, unless I plan on selling these shirts for a fricken’ mint.

Now, I used to hear about there being one day a week when you could go down to the AA plant on Alameda and root through their slightly-wonky seconds: you know, the color was a little off, or a seam wasn’t perfectly straight. And these were discounted. Dear lazyweb, does that day still exist?

Or are there, somewhere out there, low-cost sweat-free shirts, just waiting for me to discover them?

Halp, Los Angeles! Halp! I ask here because I know there are a lot of other crafty ladies out there who’ve asked the same question, and also because I want sweat-free operations to have a chance to sound off in a public forum if they can offer me a good solution.

13 thoughts on “ISO Sweat-free discounted t-shirt: Is this a mythical beast?”

  1. They are pricey, but every time I go by the American Apparel outlet store in Camarillo I stop in and grab a couple off the discount rack for 8-12 bucks. You have to inspect them, because they sneak ones with holes in them here and there.

  2. This is what I do. To me finding new clothes that are sweatfree is just a pain. I think buying used t-shirts is the way to go. You can find used t-shirts at thrift stores that are cheap and while they may have originally been sweatshop, you buying them at a thrift store is not giving money to the baddies, it’s giving money to people who own thrift stores the most eco of all stores in my humble little opinion.

    You can also buy American Apparel t-shirts at thrift stores, I see them all of the time.

    You can get super cute reasonable t-shirts at Squarevilles (the buyer there is very good, need a great coat a great fancy dress go to Squarevilles,) out-of-the-closet, goodwill, Aardvarks, Buffalo Exchange and the salvation army, though I have an issue with them (salvation army) paying mentally delayed people less than minimum wage and since my sister is mentally delayed well I have an issue with that, but I guess it’s a job but still you know.

    The thing is that in order to be fair it’s going to cost you some money. Things that are too cheap are exploiting people. I think Americans are fat, because “food” is too cheap. Do we need more than three shirts? I think cheapness makes us excessive, but best bet for eco friendly least harm type clothing is thrift stores.

    You know something my friend took me to H&M and I was amazed at how cheap things where, thrift shops at time cost more, but in the end it’s better to pay a bit more, but if you don’t want to pay so much more go to thrift stores.

    But for t-shirts you can find very good deals. I love t-shirts.


  3. The AA Factory Store (Alameda and 7th) is open every day of the week now. Markdown is ~30 percent. There is some high sample error, so be careful not to get a wonky pair of pants or something.

  4. You can find AA T-shirts and such for $3.99 or 3 for $10 at this little shop next to the Trader Joe’s on Santa Monica Blvd. and Poinsettia in WeHo. They have a rack out front. Some of them are irregulars so you have to check them. But some are perfect or as perfect as AA can manage (Their quality is still dodgey on a lot items, if you ask me. They seem to have a bias problem, sewing-wise, not in a bigoted way.)

  5. You can buy them via ebay for substantially less. Those people buy the shirts on wholesale prices, and pass them along to you

  6. And don’t be fooled by American Apparel’s much self-touted treatment of their workers–Dov loves to brag about how much his workers are paid, but he’s shut down attempts for AA’s shop to be unionized.

  7. There is a guy on the Venice boardwalk who can order anything you want from the AA catalog, and has some stock. He gets stuff like 40% less than retail, I have no idea how. Might not be legit but it’s not the kind of place where you ask questions. He has a banner than says Hanes and AA.

    I’m no expert. I just started a knits manufacturing business so I have learned a thing or two recently about this topic. Some retail math for those who may not know: An apparel retailer marks up a product by 2.2 – 2.8. In order to cover overhead costs and make a profit, the manufacturer must at least double their own costs of the goods sold. Therefore, a t-shirt for say, $10 would have to cost $2 to make.

    Considering AA is the manufacturer and the retailer, they are very expensive. A smaller company with no store, no huge ad campaign, hundreds of employees, etc could definitely afford to sell direct to the consumer for a lot less. We’re paying for hundreds of locations and those billboards of jailbait models.

    This page on Justice’s site mentions that they could not afford to keep a store open:

    Last time I went into AA for a cotton long sleeve t-shirt, it was $36 and I walked out!

    You can certainly get a cheaper product from China and it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s made by a diapered 9 year old chained to a sewing machine. I’m watching many local sewing contractors close their doors because they can’t make ends meet. Very sad for American manufacturing. We are shopping ourselves out of jobs.

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