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As a technical apparel company, we're not known as a destination for the classic cotton tee. When we had the opportunity to introduce a 100% USA-grown, cotton shirt—sewn, dyed, and printed only minutes away from our Los Angeles headquarters—we knew this was the right direction for 686. We are proud to partner with BTSA—a minority-owned apparel supplier located down the street from us in Compton, California. We see our graphic tee collection as an extension of our high-quality technical apparel, not as an inexpensive way to get our logo out there. Our focus is on high quality cotton and finishing process.
BTSA stands for Behind The Scenes Apparel and this transparency is what drew us to them. Another bonus is that their facilities are only minutes away from the 686 headquarters, so we can track the process of our basics from beginning to end. It’s not only their high-quality techniques we support, but the pride in the ethical support of the local work force here in Los Angeles they take. Some of their most experienced sewers have over 45 years of experience and - like most of the team - has been with BTSA from the beginning. Another big checkmark is that they maintain quality products, which feel amazing on your skin, but also circumvent fast fashion solutions that are pervasive within the commercial wholesale apparel industry. Apparel is a dirty business and we’re always pushing the limits of sustainability. As consumers one of the most responsible things you can do is purchase quality items that last a long time instead of disposable goods.
From yarn to fabric, cutting to sewing, and dyeing to printing the entire process is done locally at BTSA’s fair trade, safe facilities. Here are just a few steps in their process that lead to a superior finished product:
Since every batch of 100% cotton fabric shrinks at different rates due to it being wholly made with natural fibers, they ensure all garments fall within certain specs by testing and re-testing every lot of fabric. The first step of the custom color garment dye program is the lab dip development. This short process shows how our choice of Pantone is displayed on the 6 oz fabric weight that we chose. Through the fabric finishing process every lot of fabric is washed, rinsed, and dried before ever becoming a finished style. There are many facets to garment production, and they’ve committed to keeping all work based in Los Angeles.
All this and more leads to apparel that we feel proud to put the 686 logo onto. The first drop is based off our deep heritage that stretches back to 1992. We’ve dipped into the archive for this collection of heritage graphic tees. Direct from our old catalogs to you, we selected some of our favorite logos and graphics from the 90’s and 00’s. Keep on the lookout as there is much more to come.