How America's 'Greatest Hoodie' Is Made

A San Francisco company has built its entire business around the popularity of a single sweatshirt.

The zip-up hoodie, made by San Francisco startup American Giant, costs $US89. As we have previously reported, it had been on the market for 10 months when a December 2012 Slate article declared it “the greatest hoodie ever made” and sales exploded.

Back-order waits grew to as long as four months and the company expanded from a single factory in Brisbane, Calif. to four additional factories.

We decided to take a closer look at how the hoodie is manufactured.

1. First, American Giant hired pattern designer Steve Mootoo to design the sweatshirt. Mootoo gave the hood a double lining and added ribbed panels at the shoulders to improve fit and allow for more flexibility, among other details.

The designs were turned into a tech pack, which is similar to an architectural blueprint for an item of clothing. The hoodie’s tech pack, provided by American Giant, is shown below.

2. Once the design was finalised, e
arly prototypes were created, tested and analysed. Thesweatshirt was fitted to human models, “to ensure it hit every part of the body correctly,” the company says. Once the samples were approved, production began.

3. The production process begins at the farms in North Carolina and South Carolina where the company sources its cotton.

4. Gins remove the seeds, twigs and other natural elements from the cotton.

5. The material then goes to the cotton exchange, where workers grate, bale and sell it.

6. Finally, the cotton is turned into yarn and knitted into fabric.

7. Next, the fabric is dyed, napped and washed.

“The fabric is 100% cotton with a tightly-knit exterior face for wind blocking,” the company says. “It has a dry-hand feel to it, with a napped, soft back.”

8. Sewers cut, assemble and stitch the pieces into a sweatshirt.

“American Giant’s sweatshirts have 69 different pieces, all cut by hand,” the company says. “The fabric comes in rolls laid out flat onto cutting tables 30-40 layers deep. Each part is cut out by skilled tradesmen and then assembled (again, with the help of hands) on the production floor. This process is expensive and takes a lot of time.”

9. The hardware is added and the sweatshirt is pre-washed and shrunk to fit. Here’s a look at some of the workers inside one of American Giant’s three factories in North Carolina.

10. Finally, the sweatshirts are shipped to American Giant’s fulfillment center in Kentucky, where they are packaged and shipped to consumers.

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