Clothing companies do some annoying things, they alter sizing, they stop producing seemingly popular items and they blatantly hide from unsuspecting clothing enthusiasts who try to research their brand, such was the case with United Athletic. As I alluded to in my previous post in this series, I am looking for a great basic tee, which should be ethically produced and as inexpensive as possible, and I am pinning a number of my hopes on the most popular basic tee brand in Japan, United Athletic.
UA (as I shall refer to them from here on in) are to Japan what Hanes are to the United States and what Fruit Of The Loom is to the UK, a ubiquitous, all purpose producer of blank work, uniform and fashion ware. They came to my attention through an amusing souvenir tee I picked up in Tokyo a few years ago which has impressed me for its comfort and durability as much as many of my expensive tees, so it seemed natural to me that I should investigate their viability as a wardrobe basic, but frustratingly I could not find a thing out about the company online due to their all too generic brand name. Typing in the words “united”, “athletic” and “tee shirt” into Google spews forth a plethora of websites featuring Manchester United and Charlton Athletic football shirts, along with links to every high street clothing and sports company in the world who use these words in the product description of most of their products.
After an infuriating couple of days I cam across and eBay seller who stocked UA tees, hoodies, sweatshirts and other products alongside such luminary Japanese brands as Freewheelers, Real McCoy’s, Sugar Cane and my old friends at Jelado, good company indeed and an indicator of the regard in which those in the know over in Japan seem to hold UA products. From here I considered whether to mail the seller to see if they could point me in the direction of the website as my main aim was to establish provenance and proof of ethical supply and manufacturing, but this seemed a little counter intuitive to their role as the seller, why should they? It was them that I discovered something quite by accident when zooming in on one of the sellers photographs, the companies name was not United Athletic !
For reasons as yet unknown to me, in the period between the acquisition of my amusing souvenir tee and the commencement of my research, United Athletic chose to alter their name to United Athle, and that is not a typo. Armed with this crucial piece of information it took me literally 5 minutes to track down the company website, and joy of joys there is an English version containing some very important information about production, quality and supply which answers quite a few of my outstanding questions.
UA is a subsidiary brand of CAB clothing, who manufacture various clothing items under various sub brands, they even make flannel and chambray shirts. The company and all sub brands are based in Japan which is where all the clothes are designed, to reduce costs it seems that all their products are produced in China and other South East Asian countries, but crucially the website states that this is done under Japanese direction and to Japanese standards. This answers why the tee’s are so impressive, and alludes that the production may be to ethical standards, to gain a definitive answer I will be contacting the company via email with questions concerning ethics and supply chain. Hopefully the answers are favourable and then I can look at ordering some and taking this hunt to the next level, sampling!