What it takes to make a T-Shirt

What it takes to make a T-Shirt

I never imagined how much it takes to develop a product. I’ve had the privilege of working on some amazing, iconic brands (Gucci, Levi’s) and in some cases sat close to the process of design, development, and production. I knew it was a lot of work, but things are of course so much more involved when you are responsible for the process rather than observing it. But, I am by no means complaining. I’m so happy to be in this creative space and I want to get completely lost in it, and develop product people can love forever. I think I’ve touched on this personal POV enough in previous posts, so I’ll spare you the self exploration part and talk about how JIMMY came to be.

During the pandemic, after being laid off, and after 15 years of a corporate career, I decided this was the time to f*cking go for it. I attended one of those live, virtual lectures that were happening all the time in the fall of 2020; one via a creative platform for fashion and fashion minds alike. Through that, I connected with a technical designer to develop a pattern for a t-shirt. I love t-shirts. I love the ease, the endless options, the unequivocal coolness of a t-shirt. You can literally do anything in a t-shirt. I briefed in the type of shirt I wanted with a very long presentation explaining the nuances of what a t-shirt is to me. I went through almost all of my t-shirts (I have a lot), and looked at all the details I thought would piece together the best shirt. I measured every inch of each shirt to narrow down the fit I wanted, and then I sketched a t-shirt with the proposed measurements, and the process began.

I was admittedly hesitant at times developing the pattern. I would think: “Who’s going to care? Do we need another t-shirt?” Despite my ambivalence ten months later, in August 2021, we got the first sample. Once we fit it on our fit model/muse, Dakota, it was immediately obvious to me that I had to move forward. It was exciting to see an idea in physical form. It was the first time I literally saw - and tried on - the possibility. After getting the t-shirt pattern right and producing a few more samples, I needed to move onto production, which required more hands and help. I found a great development studio in downtown LA, and long story short, we moved forward. In addition to the t-shirt, which was pretty much final, I added a short and a tank. The idea was: if you have a t-shirt, you need something to wear it with, so shorts, and if we’re aiming for Spring/Summer then let’s add a more summery option, so a tank. We started development on everything in February 2022, fit the first round of samples in May 2022, in the following months tweaked product, sourced and tested fabrics, developed branding, went into pre-production in November 2022, started production in January 2023, finished production in March and April 2023, and launched in May 2023.

As I type all that out it feels so easy breezy, but it was a ton of work and we had our hiccups along the way. The main one was fabric. Not only do I believe the fit has to be right, but so does the fabric. There are literally billions of t-shirts in the world, and my challenge was to find the ways to make mine stand out. The fit of the Box T-shirt is oversized and it is a shirt that can work the way you want it. If you’re going for that oversized look, but still want it to be fitted, then go down a size. If you want it to be roomy and relaxed, then stick with your size. Go up a size if you want the super-oversized look. The flexibility and playfulness were there in the fit, but then we had to find a fabric that draped it correctly, and felt luxe. We found it in a 248 gram Supima cotton. Supima cotton fibers are longer, so they have a softer feel, are stronger, and breathe. Supima also wears longer, which is key to me because I want my tees to be something you invest in and can wear for a long, long time. So, we found the fabric, and it looked and felt amazing. The one problem: we only had access to 210 yards to use between the tee and the tank. We work with overstock fabrics, so we’re limited sometimes in what we can use. Cotton requires a lot of energy and water, and those of course have impacts, so we don't knit our own fabrics. JIMMY is rooted in specific brand values, and one of them is responsibility. I want to say we focus on sustainability, which we of course do, but that word has gotten a little too overused, so our umbrella is responsibility, under which sustainability sits. There are brands out there that are doing an incredible job at sustainability and setting the standards. There are also brands that say sustainable and place the word on products that may not actually meet that standard. Then, there are brands that are just kind of ignoring it altogether. As a young brand and small business, we have the opportunity to track our supply chain and understand where we’re making responsible choices. For us, our fabrics are a focal point, which is why we may not offer something 100% of the time. Just putting that out there. A good example is the NEW Box-Shirt in a lighter, 170 gram Supima cotton. It's lighter, buttery, but still so effortlessly cool. I love it - hopefully you will, too.

I want to also talk about why it is so important for JIMMY to make product in the USA. It's a brand value we want to hold tightly on to, for as long as possible. Like the use of overstock fabric, the intention of making products in the USA is part of our responsibility path. It allows us to work with local vendors, ensure fair labor and business, and adds to the quality of our product. Of course, there are many regions throughout the globe that produce a multitude of products really well (think Italian suiting, beautiful beadwork out of India, textiles from Mexico, silk from China). Right now, we're focused on our region to keep our business as local as possible as we learn and grow.

Despite the fabric hurdles, we got through production and quickly moved into all the things needed to launch the brand: shoot creative, build the website, set a sales plan based off of your inventory, and so much more. It’s really fun to be a small label and, as I said previously, is a little scary. But if you don’t take a risk, you never know, right? We’re still so new to the market and figuring things out as we go; really giving ourselves the time and space to allow hiccups to happen, but also strive for success. 

I really like that the subtitle, or rather the objective, of the JIMMY Journal is to go behind the seams (scenes). It’s catchy, yes, but it offers so much opportunity to really bring you along our journey. Because not only is our mission to make a product that makes you feel and look good, but we want to be a business, a brand, a buddy, whatever we want to call it; we want to be something that hopefully inspires you, because you inspire us. So, now I will say thank you, again, for guiding us through this journey as we figure it out and make the best products possible.

As always, let us know what you think. Shout out with questions. Let us know what you're looking for. We’re here to learn and grow, and want you to be a part of the process, because it takes a lot and it's always better when done together.

All love,


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