Unsurprisingly, overseas factories carry a bad rap in modern times of fashion, with words like "sweatshop" and the ilk coinciding with really anything "Made In China" these days. Upon discovering the highly illegal, careless and malevolent practices being enforced in parts of the world where "fast fashion" is produced in mass quantities by underage children, immigrants and the elderly for mere pennies, it's no wonder consumers are more attentive than ever about where their garments are produced and by whom. Over the past five years, Made In The USA has reached tremendous demand. Many buyers are quick to invest overall trust in a new designer or product with that particular stamp of approval because they feel it's easier to track just how, where, and using what to make more desirable clothing. For anyone within the fashion industry, or those serious admirers from afar realize the importance of staying up-to-date and educated about all things related to producing and manufacturing, however--close to home or not. For example, bespoke suiting of London's famed Savile Row hand-make traditional three-piece menswear like no other place in this world, as they have for centuries. Handmade shoes of Italian leather using generations-old textiles and techniques make for the most exquisite footwear across the globe. Then there's South Korea, where the country's capital city of Seoul has been manufacturing and producing luxury cut & sew knitwear for a select few of the industry's top brands for decades and is only growing stronger.
For those less familiar with Korean culture and the beautiful city of Seoul, you're in for quite the treat. Recognized as the 4th largest metropolitan economy in 2014 just after Tokyo, New York and Los Angeles, Seoul contains 15 Global Fortune 500 Companies such as Samsung, LG, and Hyundai-Kia. This flourishing capital city is bustling with modern skyscrapers, high-tech subway systems, beautiful Buddhists temples, meticulous open parks, and hosts the world's most art openings per square mile. The city and its residents are so particular about their economy that only the best business practices with upscale architecture and functionality will do, which is why Seoul is ranked 7th in the Sustainable Cities Index--the highest in all of Asia, and second worldwide in the social category. Being a tremendous leader in sustainability brings us to another exciting practice changing the way the world and fashion aficionados alike perceive overseas production. Ladies and gents, meet F&I Korea--Seoul's best kept secret in luxury knitwear manufacturing and producing--until now.
Since its establishment in 1999, F&I (Fashion & Innovator) Korea is a 100% owned vertical operation for knitting and finishing cut & sew knitwear. Specializing in high-end knits of pure cotton, linen, rayon, viscose, polyester and other fabrics that are either yarn dyed, piece-dyed, pigment and garment dyed t-shirts, polos, sweat shirts, dresses, pants and jackets. F&I has produced luxury knits for the likes of Brooks Brothers, Lacoste, and Wacoal (to name a few) for the past 20 or so years, and is currently attracting more and more esteemed brands by the minute. This pristine factory maintains the most advanced knitting machines pertaining to multiple single, rib, and jacquard versions as well as onsite digital printing capabilities, and has been awarded Best Supplier of Samsung Cheil for 3 consecutive years. With a sought after in-house design team, F&I is always up to date on the latest market trends, fashion forecasts, and forward-thinking styles. This unique factory has proven on-time delivery and sourcing abilities year after year, has Free Trade Agreements with the US and all shipments of manmade fibers like polyester knits to The States will be duty free by 2016. You read that correctly--Duty Free. What's more, F&I Korea is ISO 9001 and 14001 certified for Quality Management and Environmental Management Standards. Whoa. Welcome to the new age of fashion manufacturing and production with one of the very best knitwear factories in the world.
Fashion lovers today are making small (or large, depending on the purchase), careful investments for their wardrobes piece by piece, and most of them need to know their garments were made responsibly using only the best practices, techniques, fabrics and goods. Gone are the days where "fast fashion" and iffy production lines were highly sought after by so many. It's all about the smart garments for pickier consumers now. At Feldspar Brook, we know and understand this need and that's why we're here. We happen to own the magnificent F&I Korea so we know exactly how the magic happens with our polo from start to finish. When we set out to create The Perfect Polo it wasn't just about the pristine construction, the pure pima cotton or solely the "true fit" of the design. We realized the magnitude of our capabilities through our very own F&I standards and honestly felt like we owed it to the rest of the world to offer one simple, classic American wardrobe staple that we've truly perfected through many years of practice. After all, it's about time, and we're more than happy to lead the way towards a more intelligent and stylish future in fashion innovation.