We visited Bella + Canvas to learn how they make their fast fashion garments, stay ahead of cutting-edge fashion trends, and keep their fabric quality so high for screen printing and DTG printing. Bella + Canvas HQ in Los Angeles has more than 50 million t-shirts, hoodies, crop-tops, and fleece garments at their storage and manufacturing facility!
Made in the USA, Bella + Canvas does around 85% of their manufacturing directly in the US…and all of the dyeing and cutting is done in Los Angeles. They make fashion-forward garments and release a new style every single month.
So how do they do it?
To make a t-shirt, Bella + Canvas layers 160 sheets of fabric on a massive table with a giant, rideable machine (you’ll see it at 19:00). The fabric is smoothed, then the styles and cuts are marked with an automated system that calculates how best to utilize all of the fabric (and ensures that any leftovers can be recycled).
After marking, a 10” laser blade cuts along the markings on the massive sheets of fabric. Once cut, the layers of fabric are vacuum sealed with saran wrap so nothing moves during cutting. It’s then boxed for transportation to their sewing facility. The wrapping system (21:24) ensures there’s no impurities or damage during transport before sewing while the laser-cutting method that Bella + Canvas uses to make t-shirts and garments is much faster and more accurate than traditional hand saws.
High-end retail fashion for wholesale is at the core of Bella + Canvas’ approach to choosing what they’ll make next. “People see things in retail and send a link to that style right to their screen printer. So that’s why we come out with styles that people will be wanting in the near future, and plan for them in advance, so we get it to market when it’s trending.”
Bella + Canvas views fast fashion as a “beta test” to see what the market will want. Beta tests will have limited sizing, limited colors, and a smaller inventory than something like the Bella + Canvas 3000 (which has 100+ colors available). Then, they do a yearly check to see what they should take “full line” – more colors, inventory, and a higher volume of production.
There’s an entire forecasting team for colors, silhouettes, and other aspects of fashion to control their production output. Since their production is primarily on-site, they can quickly modulate and reconfigure their output. That means Bella + Canvas can move quickly compared to brands that use overseas manufacturing.
It’s obvious that Bella + Canvas is invested in their employees and the environment just as much as their high-tech equipment. With more than 1,000 employees in the US, the work culture at the Bella + Canvas HQ is open. With a zen garden for mingling and collaborative spaces so people from different departments can meet, Bella + Canvas HQ has a delightfully serene vibe from the moment you walk in the building.
Perhaps most impressive is their warehouse with more than 50,000,000 shirts, sweaters, and various garments in stock. Like a scene out of The Matrix or the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, there are endless corridors of garments in their massive inventory storage facility. But, that massive scale doesn’t mean it’s wasteful.
“We believe in being eco friendly. We recycle almost everything. Per warehouse, we have one trash can! It’s something we really pride ourselves in.”
Their storage facility uses state-of-the-art digital tracking. Magnetic strips guide workers to the correct locations, and everything is stored by size and style. Things are sectioned for quick pulling and easy sorting, with larger quantity boxes directly stacked above the smaller-quantity pull boxes with loose garments.
A HUGE thanks to Bella + Canvas for letting us check out their amazing facility. It’s inspiring to see a major brand so dedicated to supporting the industry by providing high-end, fashionable garments that are made in the USA.
Be sure to check out the Bella + Canvas YouTube channel – they are really posting some incredible educational content:
Fun fact – How did Bella + Canvas get its name? They started as a women’s-only line (Bella) then saw a need to expand into the men’s market (Canvas). Over time, the businesses merged together!
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