After several years of intensive development, we finally started making original apparel! America's Dog Apparel is here! Why did it take so long? Well, we wanted to do it right. And by "right", I don't just mean having great design and quality construction. We wanted them to be made in America. AND I HAD NO IDEA HOW HARD THAT IS TO DO.
In the spring of 2012 (not long before fit4apit.com was born), I made sketches of what I felt the perfect dog hoodie and tee would be like. Simple, sporty, cute, loose-fitting but not so loose that they'd stretch out and slide down. Easy for dogs to move around in. Over the next 2-3 years, I collected the measurements of hundreds of dogs and took the sketches and measuremetns to a pattern maker in Dallas, TX. They turned it all into a pattern, we hired a sewing contractor, found fabric locally and had samples made.
I sent the samples out to friends, family and fosters for one of the rescue groups I'd been working with. I logged feedback from the testers, made changes to the patterns, had more samples made and sent those out for more testing. When I finally got 100% positive feedback, I knew we were finally ready. But when I went to the fabric wholesaler to purchase fabric, I was shocked to find the building was totally empty and had closed permanently without warning, so were back to square one again and had to find a new supplier.
The experience was so frustrating that we put the apparel plan on the back burner for over 2 years. In the meantime, we moved our home and business to NC and once we were settled in, it seemed like the right time and place to restart the manufacturing plan. We found a sewing contractor who explained that we could control our process and end up with garments that were more what we were looking for if we had the fabric made. They found a textile mill for us who specialized in cotton french terry, fleece and cotton jersey (for our tees).
MADE IN NC
The fabric is woven right near us in North Carolina using yarn spun in nearby South Carolina. The yarn is made up of cotton grown in the Southeastern U.S. The thread used to sew everything is also American-made and once the garments are sewn, they're dyed right here in North Carolina. This was beyond anything I'd imagined we could ever do and I'm absolutely over the moon about all of it.
We're really proud of the entire project and it feels great to have a small part in helping to revive the Carolina textile industry. As a child, I spent a lot of time at my granparents' house in Gastonia, NC. Mostly a textile town until the 1980s, Gastonia suffered as textile businesses began outsourcing to overseas contractors. I saw a lot of the old mill buildings and factories get boarded up, vandalized, even burned down. Not many of the old family-owned mills survived.
An abandoned building on the grounds of the old Firestone Mill in Gastonia, NC. photo by me, 2010
Over the last decade, smaller textile busineses have started popping back up all over the Carolinas and this gives me hope. Needless to say, it's super exciting that we're a tiny part of a movement to bring manufacturing back to the Carolinas but to make it more eco-friendly and socially conscious than it was before.
We're making our apparel without the use of toxic dyes or processes and without plastic or paper packaging, so we aren't adding a bunch of crap to the atmosphere and landfills. Just well-made, natural, breathable dog hoodies and tees, made in cities that are all less than 150 miles from where I'm sitting right now.
All employees at the sewing, weaving, spinning and dyeing facilities are treated humanely and paid fair wages, so our apparel is sweatshop-free. This has always been important to us and we refused to compromise on it.
We decided to call our original brand America's Dog Apparel to make it clear to our pittie community that these are definitely made with our dogs in mind! BUT everything we make will fit any type of broad-chested dog between 35-90 lbs. "America's Dog", the old-timey nickname for bull & terrier dogs, seemed appropriate without being exclusionary and was also a nod to manufacturing 100% in America.
Our hoodies and tees have a sporty, vintage style that's not only cute, it's also really comfy for dogs to wear. They're even great to sleep in. The hoodie is heavy enough to keep them cozy and warm when it's cold outside but still lightweight enough to be worn under a jackeet. Our tee is lightweight and because of the way the jersey is woven, it fiexes with a dog's body as they move. It contains no lycra, though, so it won't slip over a dog's shoulders.
They're available in 3 sizes and cover a huge range of different shapes and sizes of shorter-spined dogs with big ribcages. Our garments are meant to be worn slouchy but are strategically cut so they won't slip and slide. There are no drawstrings, snaps, velcro, buttons or clasps, nothing to tear off, get caught or irritate your pup. Pure cotton is very breathable, too, so it's a great choice for dogs who have sensitive skin and a tendency to develop rashes.
The underside of each garment is cut carefully to stay out of the way of the pee stream without sacrificing undercarriage coverage. If your dog is close to the top number for the ribcage girth range, we recommend sizing UP, in order to retain the signature slouchy fit. Measurements for each size are on the size charts on the product pages and we have an entire page dedicated to helping you measure your dog correctly for the best fit.
We hope you love our hoodies and tees as much as we do! Watch our promo video here