the life cycle of the umano tee
Posted on September 06 2016
crafting the perfect tee, just for you.
“did you know that it’s illegal in athens, ga to screen print in your garage? I got six months of probation after violating section 9.15.16: “home occupation” for screen printing the very first umano tees in my parents' garage. ”
- alex torrey: brother + ceo
it has always been imperative for jonathan + alex to craft umano tees in-house, even at the cost of a six-month probation. true story, we’ll show you pics of alex in an ankle cuff. (jk, there was no ankle cuff. but the probation was very real)
although alex’s bad boy days are over and our screen printing is now done legally, our process of crafting the perfect tee is still one hundred percent done in-house and has remained a family project since we started in the garage.
as umano outgrew jonathan + alex’s parents' garage, the brothers had less and less time to put the proper amount of energy and care into screen printing the tees. after watching countless “how to” videos, their dad, aka “pops” (high school teacher by day), took over the screen printing side of the business. he is now the master and can be found at umano hq every evening after school and most weekends cranking out rad designs while their mom heads the quality control + shipping department with her "spirit of excellence."
we are slightly obsessed with controlling the quality of our product, and getting to keep everything in-house allows us to have complete control and creative liberty. we can do a ton of product development to find the perfect pocket placement and best silhouette for each Artwork.
it also enables us to do some really rad partnerships. we have the opportunity to work together with other brands and do awesome collaborations. as we say at umano hq, we love doing cool things with cool people - “stuff starters," if you will.
“we have the flexibility to create exactly what we want, how we want. since we don’t have to worry about meeting a specific minimum, we can create big or small product runs."
-alex: brother + ceo
*warning: we’re about to geek out about our process because a) we always want to be transparent with you guys and b) we think it’s really freakin’ cool and hope you do too.*
we start with our signature omobono fabric, better known as our "so freakishly-soft you have to rub it on your cheek" fabric. omobono is named after saint homobonus, the patron saint of clothworkers. we traveled the world to source the finest modal yarn, which is extracted from beechwood trees that are sustainably harvested in europe and produced using self-sufficient energy to power the entire process.
our tees are like canvasses at an art gallery, so we want to make sure we create a design that maximizes and amplifies our Artist's raw confidence while protecting the integrity of their drawing. once our Artists have completed their original drawings, our brand manager, miss molly, will do an RFP (graphic design jargon meaning “ready for print”) and print it with special "max black" on a transparency.
“it’s awesome to be a part of both the high level design process and the rewarding craftsmanship side of working with your hands”
-miss molly: printmaker + brand manager
we use a special printer that has been optimized to print nothing but transparencies. those sheets are given to pops to "burn" the image onto a mesh screen (similar to a darkroom for photography). we have a 6-head manual screen printing press, and we use that to apply each image by hand to every single shirt individually. because our tees are done by hand rather than mass-produced, every print turns out with its own unique feel, like an original work of art.
“we have one rule: preserve the integrity of the drawing.” - alex torrey: brother + ceo
we use a water based, eco-friendly ink for screen printing. it is an extra-soft ink to preserve the freakish-softness of our tees. after the design is printed on the tee, we run it through a dryer that cures the ink so the design becomes permanent. (v important step that makes it safe to wash your umano tee.) the process is then handed to mama torrey and her quality control + shipping department. every tee is meticulously inspected by hand, folded to exactly 12x12 inches, put in a recycled plastic poly bag, wrapped in kraft butcher paper, sealed with an umano sticker, and finally placed perfectly inside of a dot-com box (which are boxes originally designed for vinyl records) to be shipped straight to you. (phew!)
umano likes to take a different path than other fashion brands. while it would be way easier to contract out the screen printing, it would take away a huge portion of the pride we take in each and every product, and the pride we hope those who wear umano have as well. we like to know that with our very own hands, we have printed, boxed and shipped out something truly special.
“having to physically take things through the team’s hands is something that really keeps us focused on quality and focused on our customers. we want to make sure we are crafting the perfect tee every single time.”
- alex torrey: brother + ceo