Made In America: Pladra Apparel


In a world of one-season throw-away shirts, it’s nice to come across a clothing maker that is more interested in putting together a great product than they are in making a quick buck. The folks at Pladra make high-end flannel shirts that are designed and sewn right in San Francisco. Old-school outdoor prints add personality to the quality of heavy-duty fabrics and custom patterns.

We talked to founder Jeff Ladra to find out more.

Tell us a little bit about how Pladra got started.
Jeff Ladra: It was always in the back of my mind. I’ve always been a huge fan of the plaid flannel shirt. It was always my go-to when I went out in the woods. I’m a huge outdoorsman; I grew up fly fishing, so I decided to go back into design and focus on outdoor clothing.

You use custom buttons, custom brand labels, and your own patterns that account for shrinkage. Where does this attention to detail come from?
We really wanted to go about this the right way. Time wasn’t an issue. The best thing about our brand is that we’re trying to do it the right way. We’re not trying to blow up and rush to get out there. We just want to make the most perfect flannel shirt and really specialize in making the best single product. We also build in shrinkage, which a lot of people don’t do. The biggest thing with that is the way we match up plaid lines.

What does it take to match up plaid lines?
It’s more classic, more rugged. It makes it harder for the sewers, but we aren’t trying to pump shirts out. If you’re going to make a quality shirt, this is how you do it.

In affiliation with Backcountry.com and Treeline, BC’s new spotlight on craftsman, designers, and emerging brands. For more from Treeline and Pladra, go here. To shop Plada, visit pladra.com.

{ 13 comments…read them below or write one }

  • Dan Carpenter

    These may be nice shirts, quality made in the USA, but at 90$ a pop? Hard to say they are not interested making more than a buck!

  • Chris German

    I’m with Dan on this, 90$ a pop is really high for 100% cotton flannel… I would rather hit up the thrift store for cotton flannels. Even cotton is like .80 cent a pound but I know you have to make profit somewhere and pay bills. I seen a lot of things pop out of Cali in the clothing area, but they soon go out of business quickly. Don’t know why or the cause but they seem to have high price on everything.

  • Chris

    Hmm, I guess these complete the ironic ensemble. Apparently, when pulling fresh trout from the river and drinking PBR, a $90 flannel, with exquisitely decorated cuffs, couples well with my $150 skinny jeans.

  • Bryan

    I understand $90 is expensive, but how long do you think it takes to sew one of these shirts? These puppies are made in The USA, not China. We have higher minimum wage standards, albeit still inexcusably low for a decent standard of living. I am going to guess it takes more than a few minutes to pump one out, and let’s not forget the cost of materials and equipment. Maybe you don’t need a closet full of these bad boys, but if they tickle your fancy, maybe one will go to help support an american business and a resurgence in goods made in USA. What is your hourly charge rate?

  • noah

    The print on the inside of the cuffs is too kitschy, and not in an appealing-to-hipsters-ironic way, just bad. Other than that they look decent.

  • JP

    I agree with Bryan. If you think $90 is a lot for a stylish shirt made in America, you must shop at Wal-Mart. Not only are costs higher here, but units costs are higher when you make fewer of them. It’s a lot cheaper per shirt to produce 50,000 and than 1,000.

    What irks me is when people reflexively attack something just because it’s out of their budget. Not everything you can’t afford is overpriced, dude.

  • Jen

    I could sew a shirt like this in about 5 hours once it was cut out. Could a commercial seamstress do it in half that time? That still isn’t a lot of dollars per hour when you add in marketing, packaging, shipping, space rental, etc. I agree with Bryan – - Made in America costs more, and for good reasons.

  • Lauren

    I actually have one of their flannels. The quality, detail and fit is great. You can’t find a shirt like this from a mass production, overseas company. Plus, I’m all about supporting small, American made brands.

  • Alan

    It’s truly unfortunate when an uneducated consumer voices his or her opinion so fearlessly through an internet blog. Especially when they take the stereotypical approach of associating a flannel shirt, something that has been around hundreds of year, dating back to early Scottish history, and calls someone a “hipster.” Very sad.

    I also own a company and we make our products in the USA. I will tell you that manufacturing here in the states is more than twice as expensive as overseas production. (I also used to produce overseas) If you want to support apparel companies that manufacture overseas (Patagonia, The North Face, Black Diamond, and oh, let’s see just about every other major apparel company), then please do, that is your choice. However, don’t go taking cheap shots at people who are following their passions, struggling to keep price points comparable to the competition (do your research, similar shirts sold by Patagonia and TNF sell for the same price. And they’re made in China, see my link below).

    It’s fine to have your opinion, but please do your research before sharing it. And for the guy with $150 jeans, I don’t think these dudes want your business anyway. Good luck in the real world with your narrow-minded point of view. Where on their website would you see any sort of association with “ironic ensemble?” Because they have a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer in one of their photos? You sir (or ma’am) are bringing your own negative bias and connotation to the subject. That, is terribly unfortunate.

    Here’s the link to a similar shirt, for the same price, made overseas, and of poor workmanship. I can tell you this because I have this exact shirt. I don’t own a Pladra shirt yet, but I’m going to purchase one right now. I fully support what they’re doing. Keep it up! And go for those making it happen here in the US again! Thank you.

    http://www.patagonia.com/us/product/mens-fjord-flannel-shirt?p=53947-0-&src=pfmxdf&netid=2&mr:referralID=4948cafa-3f33-11e2-8751-001b2166c2c0

  • Carter

    Alan, while your comment seems to be so well placed and kind hearted, the real question, and what seems to be drawing the ire here, is value. It has nothing to do with the fact that it is “Made in America” There is currently a perpetuated perception that “American Made” has to be expensive. As Chris German mentions, this $90 sale price isn’t about the cost of doing business. And, as the other Chris is pointing out, it seems the price point is certainly driven by image and not value for a quality product.

    Take for example another American Made company that does the same thing, Vermont Flannel. Their price points are not in the $90 a shirt range. In fact, half that, $47.
    http://www.vermontflannel.com

    So, before seemingly pointing out that others just don’t seem to get it and going off on a tangent chiding products that are made overseas, think about the realities.
    1. Those products that are made overseas likely support livelihood for families both here and abroad. More importantly overseas, where often times there are little opportunities to make any wage, at all. A country like Haiti could really use a Patagonia plant employing 200+ workers right about now.
    2. If you are trying to justify a $90 price point by saying that it is somehow “better quality” and/or “made in america” then I think you have certainly been sold on the “image” of it all. That is, not saying that the shirts are not great but, being that you don’t even own the shirt, you have already been sold on the perception of quality for the reasons listed. (price, made in the US, etc.)

    $90 means something completely different to everyone. But, when you are basically telling us that we should be expected to pay $90 for a quality American made flannel product, when that is clearly not true, you seem to be out of touch. Many of us do care about value, made in the USA, etc. We just haven’t been sold a bag of goods.

  • Alan

    Dear Carter, 
     
    You are picking apart a piece of it—however it is the wrong piece. In this situation, where minimums (of production) are a very important factor it is often the single reason of a higher price. Not as someone mentioned, to make a profit. If these guys say they aren’t making profit, they’re probably just scraping by to make enough for the next round of production. I’ve been in that situation and know what it’s like. The fact that they sell direct from their website, and not in retail space is a nod to keeping prices as low as possible.

    It is naive of you to take Vermont Flannel Co. and use them as the standard of made in USA production, just because they offer a similar product for less dollars. I’ll state further on, a few possible reasons they could be less expensive, and also a few reasons for exactly why they are less expensive.

    I will tell you, as will other manufacturers of goods in large cities, this ($47.80) is a very low price. So before making claims as you have, I’ll ask you to please research and consider why that price point may be so low; factors such as, 1. High volume: they may be making so many shirts that they’ve received a price break from their manufacturer / sewers. 2. The minimum wage in Vermont is $8.46 per hour. The minimum wage in San Francisco will be $10.55 starting on Jan 01. If each shirt takes ~4 working hours (divided between design, pattern making, production, packaging, shipping…or referred to as labor) then you can do the math and immediately see where a few bucks here and there can quickly drive a product to be more expensive at point of sale. Based on the appearance of VT shirts, I’ll tell you right now they don’t line up their plaid lines on the pockets or back yoke, nor do they have custom-liners on the inside of the shirts. This is to maximize yield of fabric. Look at the Pladra Men’s shirts, they line up the fabric lines on the pockets and the back yoke. This is a nice touch, but also adds intensity to the labor process, which you guessed it, drives the price up. We haven’t even breached price of materials, so, 3. Price of materials: it’s possible to have fabrics sold at discounted price depending where it is from. Again, buying in large quantities offers major discounts. If you are buying at fabric minimum, which most small companies do, pricing is horrible. Let me digress here and say that I am not claiming other said company is getting all these price points. I can only guess because those price points are unusually low. This could also be that are using a lighter weight cotton. At the risk of seemingly going off on a tangent, and I am not claiming either of these companies do this, but, I would also like to bring up a major concern that legally for an item to be deemed as “made in the USA” only the last point of production or assembly must be done in the USA. This means all other components (fabric production, pattern cutting, even some sewing) can be done overseas, then the apparel arrives, 80% finished, and something like buttons or labels can be attached, completing the product as to be “made in USA” So, again, I ask you to do your homework before making claims that another made in USA company is cheaper. As I said, I don’t know what goes into their production, where they get their fabrics, etc. You can figure that out.

    “it seems the price point is certainly driven by image and not value for a quality product.”

    That is an unfair assumption to say, in my eyes, you’ve just resigned validity to most points stated. That statement is potentially worse than the hipster comment.

    “Take for example another American Made company that does the same thing, Vermont Flannel. Their price points are not in the $90 a shirt range. In fact, half that, $47. http://www.vermontflannel.com So, before seemingly pointing out that others just don’t seem to get it and going off on a tangent chiding products that are made overseas, think about the realities.”

    Ok, let’s do it! Let’s talk about why big companies go into production overseas (answer: profitability through exploitation of cheap labor)

    “1. Those products that are made overseas likely support livelihood for families both here and abroad. More importantly overseas,”
     
    I think this states your angle right here: “More importantly overseas”?

    “where often times there are little opportunities to make any wage, at all. A country like Haiti could really use a Patagonia plant employing 200+ workers right about now.”

    Our topic of conversation is about supporting Made in USA. Are you kidding me? OUR country could REALLY use 200 + workers right now. That is all I have to say about that. I’d rather not continue after your last comment, but I will. I used to work for a very large company. Bigger than Patagonia. I also have close friends who work for Patagonia. I will tell you straight, as real as real as it gets. It is NOT about supporting livelihood for families. When choosing overseas labor, it is, as literally as possible, about getting the cheapest labor to keep margins favorable (profitable). 

    “2. If you are trying to justify a $90 price point by saying that it is somehow “better quality” and/or “made in america” then I think you have certainly been sold on the “image” of it all.”

    I have been sold on it. I own plenty of USA made products. I also own chinese made products, like this computer I’m typing this on. I used to own a lot of over-seas made product too. And I believe products made in the USA are superior quality. You know why I think that? Because it’s true. My relationship is close with the producers of the goods I own. I can tell you exactly where things I own came from, and who made them. Can you do that with pants from Target? How about a shirt from Wal-Mart? In fact, I’m going to ask anyone reading this to ask if they can say they know where their garments were produced? Do you care? If not, that’s fine. If you care, and want to support or have a relationship with those who provide warmth (and maybe some style too), I suggest it. These people are doing this for you.
     
    “That is, not saying that the shirts are not great but, being that you don’t even own the shirt, you have already been sold on the perception of quality for the reasons listed. (price, made in the US, etc.)”

    You’re half right, however you missed my point. Previously I didn’t say they were great quality. I said the other (Patagonia) shirt was poor-quality. That doesn’t automatically mean the other shirt is superior. My close friend owns 4 of the Pladra shirts. He sold me on it, not the photos. From what I’ve seen, touched, and heard, they are great shirts constructed well.
     
    “$90 means something completely different to everyone. But, when you are basically telling us that we should be expected to pay $90 for a quality American made flannel product, when that is clearly not true, you seem to be out of touch.”

    Unfair statement and a low blow. You said $90 means something different to everyone. Then read your next line you followed with. For many people value is not in the price. It is the concept of “worth.” If you don’t see the value in a $89 shirt, then great, don’t buy it. If you do see value in a cheaper shirt that is also made in the USA that is in your price range, than that’s fantastic too! All I ask is, consider all the components going into what you support, a few of which I touched on above. Respectfully, please don’t go attacking the truth because it goes against your beliefs.

  • Matt

    $90 is not too much for a well-made shirt that will last. It is more than many people can or want to spend and that’s fine. I am glad to see a company making garments in the USA again. Heck, Patagonia’s flannel Fjord shirt is made in China and they want $89 for it.

    At one time, we had a strong garment industry but price and quality in places like China snuffed much of it out. The tide is turning as rising wages and a consumer culture takes root in those places, many US manufacturers are finding they can return to onshore manufacturing and prosper at certain price points since many consumers are looking to support a Made in the USA label.

    It’s all about freedom of choice friends.

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