Fruit of the Loom – T shirts

FOTL 1

A sharp frost – with night-time temperatures in the UK dipping well below zero – after a warm Easter reminds us that although we are tempted to close the cupboard door on our winter clothing, in fact Mother Nature has other ideas.

I am a big fan of layering and the base layer for me always tends to be a T-shirt in either long or short sleeves.

For many years I have worn T-shirts made by US corporation, “Fruit of the Loom” who are based in Bowling Green, (Kentucky, USA). The company employs 32,000 people world-wide, Fruit of the Loom shares its headquarters with the excellent Russell Brands (that include one-time rapper favourite’s “Russell Athletic”) – which it acquired in in August 2006 – and is a subsidiary of The Sage of Omaha/Warren Buffett’s mighty “Berkshire Hathaway”.

The T-shirt has only been around since 1913 – we recently ran a piece that celebrated its 100th birthday  Iconic T-Shirts – when US Navy recruits were issued for the first time with white crewneck T-shirts that were made to be worn under their uniforms, giving birth to an American icon.

Fruit of the Loom was born in 1851 by brothers Benjamin and Robert Knight, textile miller owners from Warwick (Rhode Island USA) manufacturing cotton cloth  who was visiting a shop-keeper in Providence, Rhode Island (USA) who sold Knight’s cloth. Robert Knight saw the painted apples that the shop-keeper’s daughter had applied to the bolts off cloth, with those bearing the apples apparently the most popular. Knight thought that it would be the perfect symbol for his business “Fruit of the Loom”. In 1871, a year after the trade-mark’s registry opened Knight was granted trademark number 418 for the “Fruit of the Loom” brand.

In the late 1930 and for several decades, Jacob (Jack) Goldfarb’s Union Underwear became a a Fruit of the Loom licensee that propelled the brand aways fro cloth manufacturing into great quality underwear.

A variety of unsuccessful ventures led to Fruit of the Loom filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1999 but Berkshire Hathaway Corporation, seeing the value of the brand, purchased the valuable brand in April 2002 for  approximately $835m. On a equally sad note, in 2014 the company announced the closure of its Jamestown (Kentucky) plant with the loss of six hundred jobs. Production was moved to Honduras in an effort to reduce production costs with no appreciable reduction in quality.

A prevailing trend in much of our Aestheticons’ work, particularly in relation to iconic products that originate in the US where particularly labour costs are high and rising, is that many manufacturers have sought to move production overseas. Central and Latin America are favourites, with The Far East, Morocco or Turkey also featuring.

The biggest challenge to the brands who seek to reduce overhead in this way is to minimise any reduction in the quality of the finished item. We have noticed that some, whilst their designs have remained loyal to the original products the durable quality of the materials have suffered, meaning that garments don’t wash well or wear badly.

FOTL 3

 

 

 

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