Craft Manufacturing vs Mass Production: What's the Difference? - BRANWYN | Performance Innerwear

Craft Manufacturing vs Mass Production: What's the Difference?

For conscious consumers, there’s a lot to consider when making a purchase. You might ask yourself: Does the company I’m buying from align with my values? Is it made from biodegradable materials? Is this fast fashion or will it last? Do I really need this dang thing anyway?

One question that can be harder to answer (and is often left out of the buying equation): How was this item made? More specifically, was it created through craft manufacturing or mass production?

It can be tough to know exactly how your shirt, bra, or pair of jeans went from raw materials to your shopping cart, especially since many brands don’t make this information widely known. At BRANWYN, however, we believe in total transparency. Here’s a deeper dive into what our craft manufacturing process looks like—and how that’s super different from the mass production model so many of us are used to. 

What is mass production? 

The concept of mass production gained traction in the Industrial Revolution. Inventions like the power loom, the water frame, and the spinning mule—remember those from your high school U.S. History class?—allowed for greater efficiency. Big business emerged and the trend toward less expensive items produced on a mass scale caught fire. 

Today, mass production means making a large number of standardized products. In the apparel industry, this is synonymous with fast fashion. Massive retailers crank out thousands of the exact same thing. They rely on mass manufacturing, powered by machinery and cheap labor, to keep every item—say every large green hoodie—as close to the exact same measurements, color, and cost as possible. The more green hoodies they can make in the quickest time possible, the more they can sell. 

What is Craft Manufacturing? 

Where mass production is all about faster, cheaper, and more, more, more—craft manufacturing focuses on skilled workers and quality goods. It’s an older and slower way of creating. This means not every single green hoodie will look exactly the same, but they will all be made to last a lifetime. BRANWYN uses craft manufacturing to create our Performance Innerwear. Here are some of the benefits (and “side effects”) of this approach. 

The benefits of Craft Manufacturing

Craft Manufacturing isn’t always better. There are industries where an artisan approach wouldn’t work for obvious reasons—take pharmaceuticals for example. However, we believe craft is best for apparel. Here’s why: 

Higher quality 

There is a uniqueness and an honesty in craft manufacturing that leads to a higher quality of goods. Because quality is prioritized over speed, the process is more hands-on, the artisans are skilled, and there may be more steps (and less cutting corners). The end result is an item that’s made to look beautiful and last for as long as possible. That’s why craft manufacturing is often associated with luxury brands. 

BRANWYN’s high-quality Performance Innerwear can only be made through Craft Manufacturing. There’s a reason why more brands don’t make seamless Merino wool bralettes and underwear—it’s pretty dang hard. But in the end, it’s worth it. Here’s a look at how a piece of BRANWYN Innerwear gets made: 

  1. Patterns for each piece in each size are created in a computer-aided design and drafting (CAD) system. 
  2. Ethically sourced ZQ Merino wool yarn (read more about our wool here) is knit into tubes on Santoni Seamless Knitting machines at our factory in Istanbul. This part is really tricky and requires experts who know what they are doing! The finished product is a tube with curvature to mimic the female body and minimal seams to avoid irritation. 
  3. The knitted tubes of Merino go from the shade of their natural wool (we don’t bleach) to garment dye. Read more about our climate-friendly dye process here
  4. The dyed Merino tubes are cut into the shape of the bralette or underwear. 
  5. Cut tubes are sewn by craftspeople to finish the design. 
  6. Clasps are added to bralettes. 
  7. Finished products are pressed and shipped to our warehouse. 

Ethical working conditions 

Another benefit of craft manufacturing over mass manufacturing is better working conditions. Our factory is committed to fair wages and the highest ethical standards for its workers—but that’s not always true with mass production. The pressure to make things cheaper and faster creates incentives that put workers rights and well-being at risk. 

Gentler on our planet 

At the end of the day, Craft Manufacturing is much gentler on the planet. Fast fashion pumps out a huge number of cheap garments. Part of their business model is the assumption that not all of their garments will sell. 

A shocking 40 percent of fast fashion goods go unsold and end up as waste. This accounts for 3.8 billion pounds of clothing sent to landfills each year. On the flip side, BRANWYN styles never go out of season, and we hold on to every single piece until it sells. 

The “side effects” of Craft Manufacturing  

Like any method, there are positive effects of craft production—but some drawbacks, too. We believe that the positives far outweigh the “negatives.” 

Every piece is unique 

The more hands-on and natural the process, the less cookie-cutter each item will be. Fast fashion often relies on plastic or synthetic fibers which are easy to manipulate and create a carbon copy of again and again. Merino wool is different. Wool has some natural variations in color and texture—not two sheep are the same! 

The hands-on knitting, dyeing, and sewing process also means each piece of Innerwear will be a little bit different. We get that this can be annoying when you fall in love with a bralette and want 10 more exactly like it—but we like to think of each piece of BRANWYN as beautifully unique. (That’s also why we offer free returns and exchanges). 

Time and money 

You know the saying that you can get something cheap, fast, or well made—but you can’t have all three? That rule applies to manufacturing, too. High-quality goods, ethically sourced, and hand-crafted by artisans will never be the least expensive option. And sometimes, there may be production delays causing a sold-out period. But hopefully, once you try our Performance Innerwear, you’ll see why Craft Manufacturing is worth the wait. 

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