All too often people are faced with the difficult task of parting ways with their favorite T-shirts, which is why one local company has stepped up to stitch the nostalgic rags together.
Founded last year, Project Repat recycles surplus T-shirts by turning them into one-of-a-kind quilts. Co-founders Nathan Rothstein and Ross Lohr point to the sentimentality of their customers as a driving force behind the company.
“Shirts are so personal for us. They really tell stories. A lot of people have a hard time giving them away or throwing them out,” said Lohr.
In order to create the blankets, workers remove 12 square inches of the shirts then sew them together to form a quilt. To insulate it, they attach PolarTec fleece.
The company recently broke $1 million in revenue, having created more than 12,000 quilts since 2012.
It may be a cliché, but many of their customers are women who have had it with their man’s over-stuffed closets.
“It’s a mixture of people giving the quilts as gifts, or just wanting them for themselves,” said Lohr. “But a big one for us is a wife or girlfriend who takes her husband or boyfriend’s T-shirts that have been cluttering up the drawers for years, and turns them over to us. Sometimes it’s to his dismay, but he ends up with a quilt.”
With this year's World Series win, the pair expects a lot of orders from Red Sox fans, who, like most sports enthusiasts, tend to have more merch than they can handle.
“A T-shirt is like the adult’s form of a trophy,” said Rothstein. “They’re not going to wear their Red Sox shirt all the time, but they want to be able to commemorate (the win), or turn the memories into a holiday gift. It’s awesome to see the different sports T-shirts from the 80’s and 90’s that people have kept. I don’t know what they were waiting for, but they obviously wanted to hold onto them.”
About 25 Massachusetts textile workers do the stitching in Fall River, Lowell and Lawrence, according to Lohr, who said that a major motivation in founding the company was to create jobs for local workers.
“Most of the shirts and clothing we wear are made by someone who was making less than a fair living wage in other parts of the world,” he said. “Being able to pay people what we think they deserve is definitely a primary focus of our company.”
Project Repat By the numbers:
Small “Lap” quilt requires 12 shirts / costs $70
A Queen costs $200, and can be made out of as many as 64 shirts.
The company has made over 12,000 t-shirt quilts this year
20 employees in Lawrence, Lowell and Fall River stitch the blankets