The Readership-Dwindling Post: Garment Care

This is probably the least popular post I will ever write. The gist of it is this – you should take care of your clothes. Quality is at most half the equation when it comes to longer lasting garments, the other half is how you care for your clothes.

When I first started buying selvedge denim six years ago, the salesman told me that the Canadian-made jeans I was buying would outlast cheaper imported versions. On the wall was a lineup of jeans at various stages of their lifespan – six months, two years and even seven years. Each pair was holding up and wearing beautifully. That was very deceiving. Within a year, I was patching my new expensive jeans at the exact same wear spots as my made-in-who-knows pair and reinforcing just as many tattered seams. I love raw denim and I still buy those jeans, but I now know the longevity thing is a gimmick. As a cotton product, a slow wear-out is unavoidable. The natural fibres of cotton will gradually disintegrate whether they are organic or conventional, sewn together locally or in a Vietnamese assembly line.

Josh Dookhie Photography

Josh Dookhie Photography

But all garments are not created equal. When buying a Commonwealth shirt, here's what you are and are not getting for your money;

  • You are getting some of the best fabric around, sourced carefully from reputable mills. This means the fabric has depth of character, strength, high grade fibres, and is less prone to pilling.
  •  You are getting a shirt made in Winnipeg’s historic garment district, where the workers (all two of us) are getting fairly paid.
  •  You are getting a shirt designed to outlast fads and constructed with thorough attention to detail. Quality construction components of a Commonwealth shirt include; Triple-sewn buttons, double-sewn buttonholes, reinforcing bartacks, generously applied interfacing for support, and high end thread from Montreal. 
  • You are getting a durable shirt, not an indestructible shirt. Like everything else, it requires care to last for many years to come. Commonwealth is committed to using only natural fibres. This means we bypass the synthetic/petroleum based ingredients often included for ease of care, that will ultimately lay in a landfill until the end of time.


Now, as promised, the "garment care" segment. How to care for your clothes ;

  • Wash your clothes less – The most wear your clothes will experience is during laundry. This is where dye fading, fibre deterioration and shrinkage can happen. 
  • Iron more – You won’t see any “wrinkle resistant” tags on a Commonwealth shirt. Harmful chemicals are used to achieve this, which you should feel a little uncomfortable having next to your skin.
  • Use the dryer never – The dryer is where clothes go to die. Just check your lint tray.
  • Repair when necessary – If this seems daunting, bring it in. We will repair it for free if its our fault or give you a sweet deal if its yours. 

Cone Mills: Greensboro, NC

Cone Mills - The origin of CMFG's new Cone Mills Indigo Chambray shirt. 

You can’t talk about American-made fabrics for long without running into the name Cone Mills. Located in North Carolina, this mill has been around since 1891. At the peak of its production, Cone employed approximately 10,000 employees and continues to produce domestically at it's White Oak plant in Greensboro, NC. 

Known for it's denim production, it is the source of Levi's famous 501 shrink-to-fit jean, made from vintage shuttle looms, from Greensboro's nearby cotton supply. They also make a damn fine indigo chambray - denim's lightweight cousin.