Meet the supplier: the yarn-dyed stripes running through our story

We’re continuing to share a behind-the-scenes look at where our clothes are made and the partnerships that bring our products to life.

Seasalt’s very first product was our Sailor Shirt. In this, our 40th birthday year, it’s still one of our signature styles. From the comfy fit, soft feel and our rainbow of Cornish colour choices, to using the best organic cotton yarn, we’re obsessive about our stripes.

To produce the perfect jersey Breton top, we need to work with exceptional suppliers: enter Comtex in Vietnam, who help us find the best people in the country. Comtex introduced us to Thanh Cong Textile, a skilled factory able to make our deceptively tricky Sailor Shirts. Thanh Cong Textile are members of Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (SEDEX) and the Better Work programme. They care about their workers, product quality, and the environment. For us, it was a match made in heaven.

We started working with Thanh Cong after they achieved certification to the Soil Association’s Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). GOTS is close to our heart – it’s recognised as the global gold standard of organic cotton, covering all stages of garment production, from field to shop. We helped trailblaze this initiative back in 2005, becoming the first fashion company to achieve the certification, so it was a natural choice for us to continue to help grow GOTS by supporting Comtex and Thanh Cong in Vietnam.

As Lydia from our buying team says, “The amount of thought that goes into a simple Sailor Stripe would knock your socks off. Colour combinations, width, stripe setting… Comtex and Thanh Cong support us by doing ‘knit downs’ to test if the combinations work.”

We started working with Comtex in 2017, and in 2018 bought over 125,000 jersey tops, T-shirts and leggings through them. Our orders have steadily grown: in 2021 we plan to buy well over 350,000 units.

We asked Tharindu at Comtex to tell us about their work with Seasalt, and what makes the partnership so special.

We partner with Seasalt to deliver the best value to customers in the most sustainable way.

We are a very customer focused business. Sustainability is the future of brands, and a social responsibility as well. Seasalt is one of the pioneer brands.

Our partnership with Seasalt has been growing from the day we started our business together.

We started working with Seasalt for their Spring/Summer 2018 collection. Sailor Shirts are one of the core products for us.

We love working with the open minded Seasalt team.

We have we have a full-time dedicated team to take care of Seasalt, and have developed a special structure in our organisation, handling fabric development, sample development, production follow up, technical and quality. We have supported small orders without extra costs.

Due to the pandemic, we had issues in getting fabrics and faced some severe delays.

Seasalt supported us by swapping products to future launches.

Making delayed deliveries work meant we sometimes had to make small design tweaks – for example, lengthening a summery short sleeve to an autumn-friendly 3/4 length. We wanted suppliers to work at the pace they could manage but know they would have work when they were able to safely open again. We feel proud to have such a resilient and dedicated supply chain.

For the stripes in Sailor Shirts, we use the cheese yarn dyeing technique.

We get the raw yarn from the yarn spinner, in a paper cone. We unwind the yarn to metal cones, placing these in the ‘cheese dyeing’ machine. Once the dyeing cycle is finished, we unload the cones and dry the yarn. The dried yarn is rewound again and knitted into the shirts to create stripes of colour based on Seasalt’s artwork. Once the stripe fabric is knitted, we send it to wash and tender (finishing).

Our daily contact with Comtex involves video calls, emails and phone conversations to develop and improve product, working through any challenges as they come up. We’ve kept relationships strong, even though we can’t currently meet face to face due to COVID-19 restrictions. These long-term relationships with suppliers help us deliver the best product to our customers.

Curious about who makes Larissa shirts or Sailor Socks? Find out in our Meet the Supplier series.

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