When I decided that I wanted to make my t-shirts ethically I first looked at preexisting shirts. I knew I wanted the top to be made from a sustainable source such as organic cotton. This is because cotton is soft to the skin, easy to wash and care for and will biodegrade at the end of its life. The first I found was on ascolour (https://www.ascolour.co.nz/5005-organic-tee.html) which explicitly states that the cotton used has not been treated with harsh herbicides and pesticides. ascolour also has a very informative tab on it’s site that lets you know how the garments are made and the conditions it is done in (https://www.ascolour.co.nz/social-responsibility). This is a very socially conscious brand and I really admire that. However, I am a student with a very limited budget so I wanted to check a few different options.
In my final year of high school I got an extensive tour of the Levana Textile factories in Levin and so I knew that they were a sustainable business. Levana hires local people who work in a very light, spacious area with good ventilation and safety precautions in place so none of their workers are being treated harshly or exploited. I decided to look at their online store which sells offcuts, remnants and faulty pieces of fabric which would otherwise be thrown away. I managed to find a grey organic cotton that was also on sale (https://www.levanafabrics.co.nz/collections/organic/products/copy-of-copy-of-cotton-template). Shipping was inexpensive too as it is a New Zealand brand which is not far away from where I live. I bought one metre to make one tee. By doing this, I am also able to confirm that my final product will have been made ethically as I will be doing it myself. I also would be able to reduce waste as I am not buying too much material that will go unused.
By making the tee myself I can also customize the cut or fit of it to my own body so I will be more comfortable wearing it.