Who We Are
We are autonomous educators and artists sewing the seams of disruption. We understand that there is a struggle for ideas, and a struggle for our youth, going on all around us, all the time, and we dare to struggle because we dare to win. Ⓐ
How did The Comrade Closet and Subversive Thread start?
Our shops were created in early 2019 to support a brown disabled femme in need of an immediate source of income. You can read more about them here.
Where and how are your products made?
We use a print and ship manufacturer called Printful because it is the most feasible and accessible for our members with chronic illness, mobility limitations, and financial restrictions. Printful makes this work possible because it doesn’t require buying in bulk, storing and tracking inventory, printing, and shipping each order individually. Printful also directly integrates and syncs with our Big Cartel virtual storefront. You can read more about Printful here.
Subversive Thread’s orders are shipped from Printful’s fulfillment centers in Los Angeles and North Carolina. The majority of our designs are printed on Bella + Canvas shirts. However, we also use Anvil and Gildan shirts where colors and sizes are not available from our supplier in Bella + Canvas (colors: pink and maroon, sizes: 3XL and up).
Thoughts on Sustainability?
We believe that sustainability is important, and we also recognize that conversations on sustainability need to include access, labor, and capital. It’s not easy to balance so many different forms of access and need - financial, physical, racial, environmental - for ourselves, for people who want to support us, for the workers who create the merchandise that our designs are printed on, and for the global ecosystem. We often find that these discussions focus in on one or two points of contention but rarely encompass everything from end to end production to the access needs of individuals or groups trying to claw out a livable life for themselves under capitalism.
Exploitation exists at every level of production under capitalism. Even brands that describe themselves as “ethically produced” have their contradictions - they are often owned by people who have greater access to capital [read: white and/or wealthy business owners] who profit from charging more for their products and who, consequently, lock out those with limited resources [read: poor Black, Brown, and Indigenous people] from participating in a “sustainable” economy. The “Cruelty Free” produce we see at market is often the result of underpaid, poor people of color enduring exploitative and predatory employers. “Fair Trade” is no better; and “Made in the USA” is often code for Made in Prisons. These dynamics only perpetuate the racialized and gendered hierarchies of wealth while doing so in the name of sustainability.
Capitalism also works to lock most people into lifelong wage labor in order to survive by tying “benefits” like health care and paid sick days to full-time employment. Self-employment is precarious for anyone, with the exception of those who have access to financial safety nets. And from the frameworks of racial, disability, and environmental justice, we know that by and large the biggest sources of pollution and planetary destruction are the states, corporations, and capitalist class who own the lion’s share of wealth and resources.
As a small collective, it is impossible for us to resolve all the contradictions of capitalism ourselves. Nonetheless, we are striving to find ways to mitigate our impact by partnering with local printers and sourcing reusable and dead stock were possible.
Part of our process is to consider these additional questions:
- Who are the workers - and who are the owners?
- What forms of access did or do the owners have?
- How are profits distributed? Are they equitable?
- What are the cost of goods sold? Who can afford them?
- When we say something is sustainable, sustainable for who?
I don’t see my size on your website, what can I do?
Some sizes may not be available due to limitations in our manufacturer’s inventory. If an item is not available in your size, please message us and we will try to customize a product using a different brand or item!
Interested in working with us?
Check out our sibling store The Comrade Closet. If you have a design you would like to see created for our storefronts, reach out to us for collaborative opportunities.