Commonwealth exists as both a creative space and a reimagining of apparel manufacture.
CMFG is intentionally product-focused over brand-focused. Said another way, the hype belongs to thorough craftsmanship, not hollow branding. These shirts are created to be more than just another disposable item. Each product is designed to be simple, classic and enduring, so you can freely bypass the fads.
The whole ambition is to create a better process, thereby resulting in a more authentic product.
As a counter to veiled offshore production, CMFG manufactures in a local, transparent and
The most engaging stories are usually the ones you find behind the story. This is certainly the case with the apparel industry. Whether the story is in the raw materials, the construction, the machines or the creators themselves, there is more than has been told. Not only is there complexity and depth to the garment world, but it is largely kept below the waterline (too often for good reason). In reaction to that, CMFG was borne to create a better story, to celebrate maker and process alike.
My own interest in the realm of clothing began in 2011. I needed a topic for my final paper in a university social ethics class, so I took the opportunity to delve into consumer fashion trends. Being moved by the untold aspects of the industry, I began learning as much as I could about the existing industry as well as the skill of garment making. Noticing a real deficit of collared shirts in my own wardrobe, I started with the humble goal of making myself a few good shirts. Not the simple task I imagined, my closet began filling with many ill-fitting and discouraging creations. After a full ten months, I proudly made my first wearable collared shirt.
By this point I was completely fixated with apparel construction and started thinking entrepreneurial thoughts. I then took two trips, first to NY and then to SF. The idea was to pick the brains of as many local producers as would be willing to see me. A handful of kind souls opened their doors and shared their stories, giving me insights and skills that I would have been at a real loss without. Afterwards, I spent six more months developing my skills at the Wilder shop (many thank you’s!), after which I bought five industrial sewing machines and began to set up shop in the exchange.
In April of 2015, the first Commonwealth shirt was sold.
The CMFG space encompasses the entire process, from design to construction to consumer. I consider it a huge privilege to see a garment evolve from initial concept to completion. Technical and creative elements come together to make this a place for innovation and responsible production.
Design: I cling to classic silhouttes or variations of; oxfords, work shirts, flannels, etc. The aim is enduring design, incorporating superior fabric with superior construction. The standard fit is slim casual, with a bit more length in the torso and sleeves. Subtle details are incorporated with no obvious logo branding.
Construction: Being a product-focused company (versus brand-focused) means garment construction is front and center.
- Fabric. Sourced from the best possible mills (often Japanese, sometimes American or European). All natural fibres only.
- Thread. High tenacity thread is used, spun in Montreal by Cansew Inc.
- Buttons. The bulk of CMFG shirts use all-natural buttons made from the South American Tagua nut. Made up of tightly wound organic fibers it is hard, holds dye well and each button has a unique grain. No fossil fuels required.
- Industrial sewing machines. Each CMFG shirt requires the specialized functions of six different machines before completion. Largely purchased from garment factories throughout the country, we utilize the tools of the trade for proper construction.
- Interfacing. A fusible non-woven fabric used to give support to specific parts of a garment, such as the cuffs, front placket, sleeve placket and collar. CMFG shirts contain a generous portion for a structured look.
- 15 stitch/inch lockstitch construction. Double the industry standard, a greater amount of stitches ensures a stronger seam.
- Bar-tacks. A short reinforcing stitch used for durability. Placed wherever stress points occur.
- ID tag. Each CMFG shirt is individually marked to remind you it was not made by robots.
- Other details are incorporated according to design. Check out the shop for specifics.
Consumer: The idea is to close the gap between process and consumer. Transparency means you have the right to see where and know how your clothes are made. Shop visitations encouraged. Goods are sold online or at the shop (290 McDermot Ave, 4th floor).
The apparel industry is a challenging place to incorporate ethics. This is a challenge CMFG has decided to accept.
Transparency: Every CMFG garment is produced in Winnipeg either by me (Hi, i'm the owner) or by my sidekick Susan, paid fairly above minimum wage. Specific information is available on each product, with openness regarding the origin and acquisition of raw materials. The work space itself is open to public visitations, by appointment.
Benevolence: We believe the creation of apparel should be beneficial to producer, product, environment and consumer alike.
- Producer – Makers should be held in high regard. Poverty wages are unacceptable.
- Product – All practices should benefit and style and durability of each product.
- Environment – Clothing made exclusively from all natural fibres.
- Consumer – The customer is not always right, but you should damn well be satisfied.
Due Diligence: Whether it is superior materials, thorough sewing techniques or thoughtful design, due diligence is the common denominator.