Made With China
Age to Come Apparel ushering in a new era of people first products.
Launching in 2015 in Portland Oregon, Age to Come Apparel (ATC) sought to accomplish two things; Close the gap between the fashionable and the functional in kids clothing and secondly to put people’s needs before profits. Ultimately this led to the “Made With China” tag line and label. The collection is a higher end design line for kids with a unique style and fully functional for busy parents, think fully reversible garments in case of spills.
The ‘Made With China” label reflects the brand’s support of the workers who make the clothing “with” them not “for” them. After reviewing manufacturers from many countries ATC founders Linsey Fuller, Michele Frazier all agreed one woman stood out, her name is Apple and she runs a company called Ringo International in Ningbo, China. Besides the synergy in family dynamics, Apple seemed genuinely interested in the vision of the company, the construction and detail of the garments. “Ringo felt like family” says Designer Linsey Fuller, “they were a small family business that shared our passion for design and our passion for people.”
Like many companies in China, Apple was no longer interested in the low cost-high volume orders, Ringo International prided itself on the skill of its employees and wanted to produce quality over quantity. They were definitely not the cheapest option. By utilizing China’s ever evolving infrastructure and superior sourcing she was able to provide the quality materials and craftsmanship ATC was looking for. Most importantly Apple and Ringo are 100% transparent when it came to the factory conditions and working conditions of its employees. Ningbo, China is known as a crafter community so the skill level of the employees represents decades if not centuries of training.
Shortly after choosing the Ringo factory in China, Linsey and her family moved to China. Now a short two hours from Ringo, Linsey can work in close collaboration with Apple and Ringo. This proximity will allow Linsey to ensure standards and give back to the community that helps make the clothes she and her team designs. “We see their success as critical to our success,” says Linsey, “everyone involved adds to the quality though their talents.”
To shop the collection please visit: Age to Come Apparel Store
We often get the question, Made in the USA? While we whole heartily support the movement to bring manufacturing back to the United States, we had a strong desire to be a voice of change in how we consume product, especially in China. We did not want to create another apparel line to be consumed and perpetuate the problems that come with fast fashion.
We want to change the narrative of what “made in china” means to a partnership of “made with China”. To do this we support a single factory and create visibility as to the people, conditions, and social responsibility that comes with partnering outside the United States.
Ringo is located in Ningbo, China situated in the northeast of Zhejiang province. We met Apple, Rex and their son Steve at a trade show in Las Vegas last February. What immediately drew us to Apple and her family was that they had their sweet, playful son Steve there with them. Apple is our age and Steve is the same age as our kids. In creating our product we instantly saw a partnership of not only two businesses but of mothers as well. Steve has been an amazing part of the Age to Come process from modeling our fit samples to telling us which styles are his favorite. We value our close relationship with Apple, her family and her factory. See below for a Q&A that we had with Apple.
Linsey, Creative Director: “Tell me about your journey/family/and how you came to Ringo.”
Apple, Owner of Ringo: “It is my pleasure to introduce myself to you. I am 33 years old, I was born in Ningbo China. My major in University located in Hangzhou is fashion design and merchandise. It is really lucky that till now I keep to work in fashion field. I really love it.
My first job after graduation on year 2004 is to be a fashion merchandise in a Hangzhou branch office of HongKong group company named Afasia Group. I worked there for about 2 years and I learnt much about the fashion technical and got some very good habit for documents making and keeping. And then on year 2006 I returned to Ningbo and set up my own company Ringo with my husband Rex at that moment is my boyfriend (We married on year 2007 and we have our boy on year 2010. His name is Steve. You have seen him on the booth already..haha) My husband major is production outlook design. Our minding at that moment is that we want to have our own design company, so we set up Ringo as a design company at the beginning. Finally we do not have much business in design but one of my customer contacted me for his tee shirt and sweatshirt order. He said he likes to work with me very much, so that we start to have our fist trading business for Ringo.
At that moment there are only 2 staffs for Ringo, me and Rex..hahaha. We do everything like merchandise, QC, fabric or accessories booking and shipping. Even I have worked in fashion trading company for 2 years already and my major is about fashion but still there are a lot of new things we needs to learn. So we worked and also learned when working. We finished our first order successful. And then we get more orders from this customer and we start to have confidence to do fashion trading business and we start to have more customers and orders. So we hired QC and merchandise and etc.
Now our company have 12 staffs in total including me and REX. We have 5 professional QC who all worked in fashion field more than 15 years, and 1 girl in duty of shipping. Me and Rex are in duty of contact with customers for sampling and production process and arrangement. And we have 2 assistants to help me and Rex to do some documents and fabric or accessories searching or booking and 1 driver and 1 Cleaner. So I can say now we have a complete and professional team for fashion trading business. Haha~ so wonderful!”
Linsey: “We are a small business and we love to support people who are following their dreams! Part of our dream is to give back to our community in the USA but also partner with you to give back in your community in Ningbo. Are there any needs in your greater community that are close to your heart? Perhaps single mothers or people in need?”
Apple: “You are really kind. Sometimes we will go to attend some communities activity also like to sell some of our stock cloths and the money we get will be all contribute to orphan kids who lived in welfare house. Maybe it is not much money for them, but I think the most important is that we can give them more confidence and happiness and let them know there are some people always support them. So in future if there are any suitable communities activities nearby us I will let you, maybe we can do better together.”
Linsey: “Tell us about some of your employees and their stories.”
Apple: “For your 6 styles knit styles will be placed order to our knit factory. So our QC Emily Zhou will be in duty of the technical and quality inspection. She is 47 years old and worked in fashion field more then 20 years. She entered in Ringo in year 2011. She worked in factory before and know how the factory worked very much. Emily has a daughter who is 20 years old and she is studying fashion design also in university in Shanghai. Emily’s first job is worked in factory to be as a sewing worker in line. Then she did many different kinds of jobs in the factory in next few years like working in sample room, packing, and team leader of one line etc. After she worked in factory for about 10 years she opened her own knit factory with a friend of her. But for own factory it is really hard to do, not only you need to know the technical of the fashion and how to manger everything in factory but also you need to know how to do business. Emily she only worked in factory as a worker or some headman of one or 2 teams, so finally she cannot do this own factory very well. So she closed her own factory and entered a fashion trading company to do quality control job. Then till now she was done in the QC position for about 13 years already.
For woven styles we will place the order to woven factory, because the woven factory will be better workmanship of this style. Then our QC manager Rainbow Zhang will be in duty of it. She is 42 years old and worked in fashion field more than 15 years. She started to work for Ringo from year 2009. Not only she has worked in factory before and she can made paper pattern also. She has a lot of experience for paper pattern making and sample fitting. Rainbow has 2 daughters. The elder one is 16 years old and studying in grade 2 in high school. And her second daughter is 6 years old who will go to school this Sep. Steve always play with this little elder together on weekend or some holidays. So maybe her small daughter can be your model also. haha.. And Rainbow’s hometown is Sanmen, a small town in Zhejiang province also. It is about 2 hours by car to reach there. But after her marriage they moved to Ningbo, because her husband did some small business in Ningbo at that moment. Now they have bought their own house in Ningbo already and become a Ningboese already. The first job of Rainbow is paper pattern making in sample room, and she did this job very well, but after she had kids she wants to have more times with family. So she start to work as a QC.”
Linsey: “We would like so know that workers are treated well/paid a fair wage etc.”
Apple: “haha. It seems this question can be replied by some of our other staffs. In my side I think I pay all of our staffs in very good wage. We have 2 days off for each week. It is not normal for fashion trading company in China. Normally the fashion trading company will need to work for 5 and half days or 6 days each week. And somebody did well in his position he can get extra encourage and reward. And we will organize a company trip each year (about 5-7days to some nearby abroad counties in Asia like Hongkong, Singapore etc.)
RINGO has certification of GOTS and OCS. One of requirements to get this certification is that a company has to maintain social responsibility and treat staff in a kind and fair situation.”
Head office (China):
Address: NO.146, Building 22, Innovation 128 Park, NO. 818 South QiMing RD, Yinzhou District, Ningbo, Zhejiang, China.
Tel: +86 0574 28851168 Fax: +86 0574 27850291