Coming to the USA: A $95 Sweatshirt That Its Maker Vows Is a Bargain

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Tom Cridland's Grey 30 Year Sweatshirt Photo courtesy of Tom Cridland
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The maker of a $95 sweatshirt that may save you money while saving the environment is coming to America. Will you don this latest entry in sustainable fashion?

Tom Cridland’s 30 Year Sweatshirt is a hit in the United Kingdom, where he launched his fashion company two years ago at age 23 with the help of a $9,000 government startup loan. He’s already turned over $1 million in his second year, he told Money Talks News.

He first focused on chinos that were embraced by celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Stiller and Daniel Craig. He added 30 Year T-shirts to his line, and last June he introduced his signature line of 30 Year sweatshirts to combat fast fashion.

“Planned obsolescence in the industry causes a needless cycle of consumption and waste,” he said. “Fashion is the world’s second-least environmentally friendly industry after oil.”

Fast fashion in style

But the fast fashion pace is quickening. Retailers like Zara, H&M, Forever 21 and TopShop introduce new styles at least weekly, according to media reports.

Americans bought 19 billion garments in 2013, according to

Plunkett Research estimates Americans spent $463.9 billion on clothing, shoes and accessories in 2014, the latest year for which it has figures.

Meantime, Americans threw away nearly 23 million tons of rubber, leather and textiles in 2013, the latest year for which the Environmental Protection Agency has figures. That waste category, which includes tossed clothing, accounted for 9 percent of a total 254 million tons of municipal solid waste, the EPA said.

Aware of growing consumer consciousness about fashion waste, more than 160 organization including 40 brands and 14 retailers are members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. Among them are Adidas, C&A, Gap, H&M, Kohl’s, Levi Strauss, Macy’s, Nike, Puma, REI, Target and VF Corporation.

The coalition on its website says it focuses on the Higg Index, which measures environmental, social and labor impacts of making and selling their products and services.

“By measuring sustainability performance, the industry can address inefficiencies, resolve damaging practices, and achieve the environmental and social transparency that consumers are starting to demand.”

Sustaining sweatshirts

To do his part in slowing waste, Cridland says, his solid-color sweatshirts are based on an ageless 50-year-old design and made of 80-percent cotton at a durable 360 grams per meter (about 10 ounces per yard) and 20 percent polyester. Craftsmen and seamstresses in a Portugal family who have been “making beautiful clothing since 1964” double reinforce the crew collar, shoulder and cuff seams. (He may move production to Italy to keep up with demand without sacrificing quality, he said.)

The sweatshirts should withstand normal washing and wearing for 30 years, or, Cridland says, he will repair or replace the item at no additional charge. That doesn’t mean you get a free replacement if you spill, say, red wine down the sweatshirt’s front, but it shouldn’t fall apart after repeated washings either, he said.

His approach was hailed in British media, including the BBC and Daily Mail, when in January he opened his first shop in London after finding success through online sales.

He says selling direct helps avoid what he calls “unnecessary and sometimes unfair retail markups.”

The sweatshirts sell for 65 pounds, or about $95 at today’s exchange rate.

“It’s better cost per wear rather than buying some tatty rubbish,” he told the Daily Mail.

You could pay more for a sweatshirt. At Nordstrom, for example, a Diesel brand all-cotton ‘S-Gladys’ Contrast Panel Crewneck Sweatshirt was recently posted online for $128; a cotton Anthony Thomas Melillo Knit Crewneck Sweatshirt, $350.

You could pay less. Walmart recently offered a cotton-polyester blend Hanes Nano Premium Soft Lightweight Fleece Sweatshirt for just $10.

Cridland says he will promote as the best place to buy the 30 Year Sweatshirt and all his clothing, but in March he will host retail sales in New York and Los Angeles but still direct to customers. Later in 2016, he says, his shirts will be all over the U.S.

Cridland launched his company after graduating college but against his accountant mother’s advice and without financial help of his father, CEO of light-up bodyclock maker Lumie, the Daily Mail reported.

His girlfriend of six years, Deborah Marx, whom he met in college, runs the company’s business side.

While his clothes are often portrayed in media as appealing mainly to millennials, Cridland says he doesn’t target any specific market for his wardrobe staples.

“The data we have show that our clothing appeals to an extremely diverse range of customers,” Cridland says.

Does sustainable fashion play into your shopping choices or do you think of it as a gimmick? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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