With so many companies moving their manufacturing facilities overseas, Nelson Wear made a decision when it was founded in 2008 to manufacture apparel in the USA. The main reason for this is the importance of quality. It began with the design of our full and half arm sleeves. We wanted to make sure the fabric, elastic, stitching and the sizes we designed were as close to perfect as possible. The responsibility fell on us to research and oversee every aspect of our product design and implementation.
We sourced our fabric first. This was a very time consuming process, as you can imagine there is a whole world of different fabric available with very different qualities. We wanted something breathable with enough stretch to be very comfortable and provide a better fit. Sun protection was an important factor since the sleeves were initially designed for customers with tattoos. Tattoos are an investment as many people spend hundreds of dollars or more on their art. We wanted to protect a customer’s body art from fading due to sun exposure. Selecting the colors of the fabric also took time since we wanted to offer a couple different skin tones. It took a great deal of research and ultimately we weren’t happy with the available fabric manufacturer colors available, so we made custom colors for our light and suntan skin tone fabrics. While they may not be perfect for everyone, we hoped to make them work well for most people. We have since added other skin tones and many other standard colors and fun patterns.
The next step was to source our elastic since the stretchy fabric alone would not be able to keep the sleeve in place. We didn’t want to just slip some elastic in at the top and fold over the fabric and call it done. We wanted elastic that would really keep the sleeve in place. So we found the perfect combination. The elastic was branded with our sleeve name and then a gripper was added on top of the elastic, making it “stick”.
Stitching is another very important design aspect since our sleeves are to be worn snug against the skin. There are several different stitch types used in the sewing process. The most typical one you will find is the “overlock/coverstitch”, but the one we decided on was the “flatlock”. An overlocked coverstitch has more layers to it which would potentially chafe the skin and cause bleeding. The flatlock seam is primarily for performance apparel since the cut edges of the fabric are butted against each other and joined flat in a single layer. If you are involved in rigorous activities with a snug fitting type of apparel, you want it to have a flat lock seam! Flatlock seam machines cost more, but we think the stitch says it all. Your comfort is worth it!
Tags were another consideration. We have all had clothing where the tag scratches or irritates us and we cut it out. We decided to design our sleeves tagless from the very beginning. We use a heat transfer on the inside that provides the size, sleeve style and care instructions. The result is a super comfortable sleeve with no irritation.
When we considered sizing we knew people are not a “One Size Fits All”. We wanted to offer different sizes to cover most people, from small to large. We had to determine how much stretch our fabric had and created the sizes from there. We settled on designing 3 different sizes (Small, Medium, Large) for each sleeve style. We learned from our customers the size names were confusing and they didn’t really know what size to pick. We changed our sizing names to be more in line with general unisex sizing (XSmall/Small, Medium/Large, XLarge/2XLarge) more people are familiar with. Our customers also asked for an even smaller size and a 3X, so we added a Petite/Youth and 3X size for most of our sleeve styles. We now have 5 different sizes available in most sleeve styles and colors using the unisex sizing to make it easy for customers to get exactly what they want.
Branding is something most companies will force on the customer by putting their name or logo in a very visible location. Our sleeves are sometimes used to hide tattoos or scars. Wearing a sleeve with branding on the outside kind of defeats the purpose of hiding something. Instead it makes what they are hiding even more obvious and other people ask what’s wrong or what are they covering up. We do not put any branding on the outside of our sleeves. You will only see it on the inside on the elastic gripper. We would rather our customers share our name in conversation with friends and family and not be forced to be a billboard.
We continue to add more styles and colors based on our customer’s needs. At this time we offer Full Arm/Full Leg, 3/4 Arm/Lower Leg, Half Arm/Calf Leg, Forearm 9″, Forearm 6″/Ankle 6″, Wrist 3″/Ankle 3″ sleeves. We will also be adding other apparel products in 2015.
Our manufacturing facility is located in San Diego, California. California requires that all apparel manufacturers pass a written exam and follow strict guidelines to be registered. We are required to renew our registration every year. Nelson Wear is registered with the State of California: CA 139954. If you are purchasing from a California garment manufacturer, be sure to verify they are registered. For more information, please go to: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/New_Garment_Manufacturers_and_Contractors.htm.