From the monthly archives:

June 2009

HYA Tours the Spreadshirt HQ in Leipzig

by Andy on June 30, 2009

spreadshirt-leipzig-exterior

Whilst I was in Berlin for T-Shirt Day it seemed like a great idea to hop on the ICE train (which isn’t as cool as it sounds) and head 100 miles south of the capital to the city of Leipzig to check out Spreadshirt’s much-larger-than-I-expected HQ and production facility. If any of you are wondering, “who the devil are these Spreadshirt folks?” Well, they’re the largest (I think) print-on-demand supplier in Europe, and they also have offices and production in America, meaning that whichever side of the Atlantic you’re on you can get a high-quality customised tee pretty darn quick. I actually have a tee from 2004 that I bought from Spreadshirt (yeah, I was all about the tees even before I started HYA!) that’s still going strong, so they really do know how to make tees, and presumably they’re even better quality now.

Upon getting off the train in Leipzig’s beautiful station I was met by Adam from Tee Junction who was going to act as my tour guide to the city, and I don’t think he’d actually had a tour of the new Spreadshirt facility as he had left the company before they moved in, so the day wasn’t a waste for him, hopefully. I always say that the best way to get a feel for a city is to walk through it, you don’t see much when you take public transport (especially if it’s underground, obviously), so we walked from the station to Spreadshirt through the lovely old centre of the city and the huge park to the more industrial side of the city. One strange thing about Leipzig is that there are a lot of abandoned buildings in the city because of vast numbers of people (around 500,000 people in a city of 1 million) leaving the city after the collapse of the wall and re-unification of Germany, many of those people never returned, meaning that there is lots of unoccupied space. Even just across the road from Spreadshirt’s freshly-renovated building there was a really nice building that had clearly received no love for many years and sat empty. According to Adam this situation means that rents in the city a very low not only for housing but for business as well, so people will set up businesses as a hobby that are only open for a few days a month, it’s a strange concept to me, but I like it.

As you can see from the picture at the top of the post, it’s pretty easy to spot the Spreadshirt building because it’s covered in everyone’s favourite item of clothing. Apparently you don’t need to give taxi drivers the address to Spreadshirt because they all know about “the building with the t-shirts on it.” It’s pretty hard to miss as well, seeing as it takes up a whole block.

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Eike (seen here on the right at T-Shirt Day Berlin) decided we should start our tour on the top roof deck of the building, giving us a good view over the city. The weather hasn’t treated them too well so far this year so the roof decks haven’t seen much use, but they hope to use them for events when it starts to heat up. I might be wrong in remembering this, but I’m pretty sure that the roof deck spaces (there’s more than one) if combined would actually be larger than their old offices, which shows how much of a step up the move was for them.

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We then moved down to a meeting room/kitchen/break room, passing a couple of guys playing table tennis on the way, from the looks of the league on the wall next to the table these guys get pretty serious about the table tennis competitions. Can you believe that the kitchen above is in a t-shirt companies offices? It looks like it should be in a showroom!

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What self-respecting internet company could have offices and not have a foosball table?

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This meeting space shows how light and airy the building is, I think that they might have more room than they know what to do with!

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This picture obviously doesn’t illustrate it particularly well, but in one of the receptions they have a life-size model of Batman, Eike didn’t seem to really know why it was there, but I’m sure that it’s an important addition to every office.

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I remember Adam being pretty excited about the addition of Fatboy chairs/bean bags to the office, and wondered why they weren’t there back in his day.

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In one of the larger offices, because the ceilings are so high they were having problems with noise and echoes, the innovative solution to this problem was right under their nose, t-shirts! They hung a load of t-shirts up and now they help to stop the noise bouncing around the room.

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These pieces of wall art are made of t-shirts they printed in the factory and stretched around frames, which I thought was a really cool idea. Some of you may recognise the broken up image as one of the finalists for the Open Logo Competition that Spreadshirt held to find their new logo.

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This is the returns room. You’re probably quite alarmed by the amount of items in there, but I couldn’t actually see anything technically wrong with the couple of items I picked up. I get the feeling that a lot of people just return items when they receive them because the message that they thought would be funny on a tee really isn’t, or they made an error when picking the fonts and colourway. I get that feeling because most of the returns I picked up were really badly designed.

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This returned tee that Adam found made me a bit sad, because why would return a tee that says “I [heart] my boyfriend” when there’s nothing wrong with the tee. A lot of the returned tees get given away to charity, and staff are regularly allowed to rummage around and take them too, so presumably most of the people at Spreadshirt have really weird t-shirt collections.

spreadshirt-leipzig-corridor

Along this corridor only about half of the office spaces were occupied because they still haven’t worked out what to do with the rooms, I think some of the ideas thrown around included a studio for recording video (there was already a photo studio along the corridor) and maybe even a room just for playing Wii in. It must be cool having all this space that they have to think up cool stuff to do with rather than having cool ideas with nowhere to implement them.

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A lot of the offices and rooms in the building have been given names, sometimes the names have a purpose, and sometimes they make no sense at all. I was disappointed to hear that this room doesn’t glow in the dark…

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And here she is, the production floor. As you can see, it is a large space, filled with lots of Germans working in a stereotypically efficient and hard-working manner.

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I think that these guys might have even more tees than I do!

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This machine is one of about six (I can’t remember how many) that print/cut the designs on the various vinyls and foils that Spreadshirt offer, each machine has been given a name (this one is called ‘John’), presumably just to cut down on confusion between machines rather than just being cute.

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These are the people that remove the ‘scrap’ vinyl from each sheet leaving just the bits of vinyl that are to be pressed onto the shirt. The rate at which they worked was really impressive, I’m sure if I were to do it there would be an awful lot of prints being thrown into the rejects bin.

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These people check over every item before it leaves the factory to ensure it meets quality control standards.

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Whilst it isn’t a large part of their business, Spreadshirt do have a DTG (direct-to-garment) printing machine, and it was really cool to see it in action as I’ve never witness it before. It’s basically a really big inkjet printer, which you think actually makes the process less interesting since I’d presume most of you are reading this post with a printer a couple of feet away from you, but it was fascinating watching a design appear on a t-shirt with each pass of the print head. The printed t-shirt then goes through a large dryer (to the left, out of shot), which I think can best be described as a jumbo-sized version of one of those toasters that you only ever see in hotels where you put your bread on to a conveyor belt and the toast comes out the other end.

spreadshirt-leipzig-test-lab

As we were leaving the production facility Eike pointed out the test lab where they put every item in the store through it’s paces. The rather bedraggled tee you can see above is the cheapest t-shirt they sell, and it has been put through 100 wash and dry cycles, so it’s hardly a surprise that it’s not looking too good, though the print seems to have held up fairly well.

leipzig-icecream

I’ve missed out on some of the office space, partially because I don’t like taking pictures of random people (even though Eike told me it was okay) and partly because a lot of the pictures I took came out pretty poorly, so if you were thinking that it didn’t seem as big as I was describing it, there’s quite a lot more offices, and a lot more people, than you can see in the photos. After the tour Adam and I caught a tram back into the centre of the city (unfortunately it wasn’t one of the Cold War era relics that I’d seen rolling around, but trams are always fun) and went for ice cream…

leipzig-beer

… and beer. You know how when you go into a restaurant in America you automatically get given water? They have the same kind of thing in Germany except you get beer. Okay, that isn’t strictly true, but it sure does feel like it. We were later joined by Evan Eggers (who, if you remember, I’d met the day before at T-Shirt Day) for another beer before I headed back to Berlin on the train. Good times!

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Thanks to Adam and Eike for guiding me around the city and the Spreadshirt HQ (aka ‘T-Shirt Geek Disneyland’)!

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I wasn’t going to post this since PalmerCash are using a Michael Jackson tee in the promo photo, and I’m refusing to post any Michael Jackson t-shirts at the moment because I was seeing them pop up a few hours after it was confirmed he was dead and I find it all a bit distasteful. I’ll add a small caveat that I will be linking to one or two later in the week as part of a larger post, but they won’t be a feature.

Anyway, and I say, I wasn’t going to post this, but then PC used the term ‘sale-a-bration’ in the e-mail I decided to let ‘no MJ’ rule slide a little bit. So, just enter the coupon code PC58 at the checkout before July 5th and you’ll get 15% off your order.

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I haven’t actually heard of Messhead Clothing before, but when Coty wrote on Tee Junction about their sale with $5.99 tees I felt that I should probably give them a quick look, and at that price I wouldn’t be surprised if you do to. Even when not on sale their tees are a very respectable $12ish a piece, so if you’ve reading this post a few weeks after the post date then you’re going to be getting a good deal.

Messhead Clothing

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2 new designs from ReThink Clothing

by Andy on June 30, 2009

500zapperorange greybombfull500 zapperhigh500 500fullresblue

I wonder how much time ReThink spent trying to think up a different ‘gun that isn’t really a gun’ that they could put on a t-shirt after the success of their super soaker t-shirt? I can hardly blame them, it’s a winning formula, any guesses on what we’ll be seeing next?

The bomb tee is good, it’s not mind-blowing (jiminy Christmas I love puns), but at least it shows some imagination compared to a lot of bomb tees. Right, now I’m off to dig out my NES and play some Duck Hunt.

They’re all $19.99 a pop printed on American Apparel blanks, and can be found in the ReThink Store.

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A Quick T-Shirt Day Update

by Andy on June 30, 2009

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Just in case my coverage wasn’t quite enough for you, Tobias over at the Spreadshirt blog (I met him, nice fellow) has a big German-language round-up of the event, with links to lots of other posts about the day, which have a load of pictures on them, so if you were as disappointed with my photo skills as I was, make sure you check out those links. Also, Adam from Tee Junction now has a report up about the Open Runway event in Berlin, with some videos.

Oh, and can you see me in the background of the shots above?

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Sale time at 410BC

by Andy on June 30, 2009

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Lots of tees going cheap, I saw some shirts as low as $7 a pop, the stock is probably going out the door pretty quick at those prices, so get on it!

410BC

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3 New Tees at Turtlehead

by Andy on June 29, 2009

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Hold up, you mean not everyone in Ireland worships the ground that Bono walks on?

Turtlehead

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You know whose very, very good at creating t-shirt designs? AJ Dimarucot, that’s who. Frustratingly, on the product page for this design there is a photo of the lady above wearing a hoodie with this design on it, but there is no option to buy it… drat and double drat, Threadless, stop hoarding the hoodies for yourselves!

Costiness=$18 Available from Threadless

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Despite all my excitement about it, I still haven’t managed to get to see the new Transformers film, hopefully I’ll get to tonight. It would seem that I’m not the only person that is excited about giant robots fighting, because Johnny Cupcakes have released this totally sweet Optimus Prime tee, although am I the only person that can’t see a cucpcake/baking reference in the design, I thought all of JC’s designs had that somewhere?

Costiness=$35.99 Available from Johnny Cupcakes

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New guys polo shirts from Tolky Monkys

by Andy on June 29, 2009

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I guess that there may well be occasions over the summer when you want to where something that is ever-so-slightly more upscale than a tee, a polo shirt may well be the answer to that particular sartorial conundrum, and I’m sure there would be far worse options than picking up a polo from my favourite Madrid-based purveyor of character-based clothing (yep, that’s a niche), Tolky Monkys.

Go straight to the polos here or get more details about them at the TM blog.

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Android Stole My Ride by The Dept.

by Andy on June 29, 2009

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A little bit late for my 101 Robot Tees post I guess, but the Dept. have put together a really solid group of designs largely based on robots… and we all love robot tees, right?

Fair enough, the 79′ Battlestar Galactica MK-1 Viper on the tee isn’t a robot, but it’s being driven/flown/piloted by an android, so it’s totally a robot tee!

Costiness=$22 Available from the Dept.

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I think that the irony police might be on the lookout for the Disturbia crew after they’ve released these designs (which you can buy, by the way), about excessive spending. I really like the ‘Keep Buying and Stay Silent’ tee, which is another clever riff on the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster that you see so many variations of nowadays, and the biker-style track jacket looks pretty badass (the wraparound bit in the neck is a nice touch, but the Mastercard parody isn’t really working for me I’m afraid, it just reminds me of ‘funny’ tees you’d see in a souvenir shop on holiday, though it’s safe to presume that Disturbia’s take is produced to a much higher quality, so don’t let me hold you back from spending, spending, spending!

Disturbia Clothing

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Architecture by digisin at MySoti

by Andy on June 29, 2009

architecture by digisin at mysoti

Negative space printing in the house!

And yes, that was meant to be a pun.

Costiness=$19.49 Available from MySoti

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4 New Tees at Allmightys

by Andy on June 29, 2009

litter_photo01 treasure_photo01 playground_photo01 saltwater_photo01

One brand that it would have been nice to see in Berlin at T-Shirt Day (since it’s where they hail from) is Allmightys. They seem to have been a bit quiet recently which is unfortunate because when they release tees you can usually expect them to be of a very high standard, so I wish they’d release them more often!

The four tees above were all winners in their recent ‘Underwater’ themed contest. In the future Allmightys are switching from the themed competitions to a more straight-forward standard design competition that will be an open call for designs. For me this takes away part of what makes Allmightys special, I can understand why it has been done because as soon as you give something a theme you alienate some designers, but the themes were something different from what everyone else was doing (as a main part of their contest). Still, if it produces good designs then I won’t complain again.

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T-Shirt Day 2009 in Berlin

by Andy on June 26, 2009

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This past weekend I went to Berlin to take part in the International T-Shirt Day celebrations being hosted by Spreadshirt in the city. I realise exactly how crazy that sounds, but let’s be honest, if you have a good excuse to go to Berlin, you’re going to go to Berlin, right?

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I’ll spare you the holiday snaps I took of the many, many, incredible architectural and historical sites (walk in any direction in Berlin and you’ll find something interesting, it’s a great city), and we’ll focus on what I was actually there to do, report on T-Shirt Day celebrations… and be a model on the Open Runway. Oh yes my friends, on June 21st I became the world’s least professional and most clueless model.

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The event was held at the Kaiserstein bar and restaurant in the Kreuzberg area of Berlin, and there was a decent-sized turnout for the event, with lots of teeple meeting and mingling, I must admit that other than Spreadshirt & laFraise (the event hosts) the only brand I recognised was Silberfischer, though the quality of tees being exhibited by the other brands was impressive. Speaking of teeple that you guys will recognise, I met Adam from Tee Junction, who had done a lot of good work promoting the lead up to t-shirt day by organising lots of competitions and getting lots of companies to have special one day coupons on T-Shirt Day. I also met Spreadshirt CEO Jana Eggers (and her husband Evan, who isn’t in the tee business, but was a great guy so he deserves a mention), who chastised me for having the audacity to wear a Design By Humans tee to the event, but I must say was very nice, how on earth she manages to be CEO and have the energy to participate in triathlons I have no idea, but then again I did consider the walk from the U-Bahn station to the event as my day’s exercise, so I’m probably not the best person to judge.

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After some chatter it was time for the main event, the open runway. Despite all 60 spots for the runway being claimed on the T-Shirt Day website, there were actually 34 brands/groups represented, but with some brands showing off multiple tees with multiple models, the show was probably as long as it needed to be to ensure that people didn’t lose interest. With me going 8th people were still happy to clap, and there may have even been a small cheer when I took off my jacket and threw it over my shoulder as if we’d time-warped back to the 80s, but I would imagine that by brand 50 people would have been a bit bored even if the models were covered in fireworks. I can’t really remember that many of the brand names that were involved, so my apologies for the lack of detail to go with the captions of these photos.

These two totally worked the runway, they both started out wearing tees and stripped down to the vests, hot stuff!

These two totally worked the runway, they both started out wearing tees and stripped down to the vests, hot stuff!

You can't really see the tee, but this is one of my favourite photos from the day.

You can't really see the tee, but this is one of my favourite photos from the day.

That's me! Click on the picture to see more pictures of the event taken by stylespion

That's me! Click on the picture to see more pictures of the event taken by stylespion

You probably recognise this model from LaFraise... she's cute.

You probably recognise this model from LaFraise... she's cute.

You probably recognise this guy from LaFraise shoots as well.

You probably recognise this guy from LaFraise shoots as well.

Jana, Evan, and Eike hit the runway together

Jana, Evan, and Eike hit the runway together

I really like this picture, great tee too, if only I knew where it came from

I really like this picture, great tee too, if only I knew where it came from

Doesn't matter what you're wearing, you'll get a good reaction with a baby.

Doesn't matter what you're wearing, you'll get a good reaction with a baby.

As you can probably see from a lot of the photos, there were a lot of photographers and some video/TV people at the end of the runway, which made me feel rather more like a model than just some guy walking on a carpet whilst people looked at him. In short, despite having no clue what I was doing, it was damn fun. I got the feeling that everyone else had a good time too, which is exactly how it should be at an event like this, you don’t need people pulling Blue Steel at the end of the runway, or models that believe smiling and currywurst are crimes, you just need people to have fun, and I think that Spreadshirt did a good job of making sure that happened.

After the runway there was further mingling and chat, and yes, some more beer (I do have a rockstar blogger image to maintain). There were also a couple of racks of LaFraise and Spreadshirt tees up for grabs. Adam and I decided that if you were giving away free t-shirts in England that the ensuing scrum for freebies would result in arguments, fights and probably some guys turning up with a van and just taking the whole rack, but apparently things happen differently in Germany, because people actually looked over the merchandise properly before taking it, and there were even some shirts left at the end of the event… perhaps the public hadn’t quite grasped the concept of ‘free’. I had a thoroughly excellent time at T-Shirt Day ’09 in Berlin, so big thanks to the Spreadshirt and LaFraise teams for putting the whole event together and doing such a good job, specifically to Ami at Spreadshirt for helping to organise getting me there, and to Adam for saying “hey Andy, you should come to Berlin for T-Shirt Day.”

LOTS more photos in the gallery.
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Summer Sale Time at Lowdtown

by Andy on June 26, 2009

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Lowdtown really impressed me when I first featured them back in April, so it’s pretty natural that I like their stuff even more when it can be picked up for up to 25% off the regular price, meaning that the tees weigh in at around $16 a pop. No need for a coupon code, the hard work of price slashing has already been done for you.

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It’s Our Thing at Urban Industry

by Andy on June 26, 2009

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Dan from Urban Industry dropped me a note to let me know about a very cool Japanese brand that they’ve just began selling (and may well be the exclusive UK distributor) called It’s Our Thing. The tees aren’t cheap at £33.50 a pop, but you have to consider why that is; one, IOT are clearly a premium brand, two, it must cost a lot to import tees from Japan, and three, everything costs more in Britain. So, yeah, they cost a bit more than the usual tee, but if you like them then you probably shouldn’t let a silly little thing like money get in the way. Here’s a bit of background:

It¹s Our Thing is the collaboration between the graphic designer PMKFA,
based in Tokyo, and Osaka¹s finest screen-printer Sweatshop Union. It¹s Our
Thing materialized in early 2006 after both PMKFA¹s Micke and Sweatshop
Union¹s Matthias for years had by themselves grown the will to create
something of their own. The first line came out in April 2006, and named
³The First Ten², followed by the ³Third Vision² line that was shown at a
couple of exhibitions in Tokyo and Barcelona and contributed to spread It¹s
Our Thing to more shops worldwide. The third line ³Etno² that you can see in
the shop right now is a leap forward for us and shows the visual progression
we aim at. From the cartoon-ish and photorealistic style of the ³Raybat²
sweater to the subtleness of the first female-only sweater, ³Etno², that
came to also name the whole line. Keep it locked for a lot more stuff to
come this year

It’s Our Thing at Urban Industry

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Ffee now sell skate decks

by Andy on June 26, 2009

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Obviously this is a bit of a departure from our usual cotton-y focus, but I sure do like the look of these skate decks from FFee Clothing that are being produced and sold through Deckpeck.

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In their words:

Hello Andrew,
Summer is here and to celebrate, we’re offering a 30% discount off the entire online INDVSL store. Just type in “ILOVESUMMER” upon checkout of any order on the site, including sale items. Enjoy!

INDVSL

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Huge sale at Stereo Panda

by Andy on June 25, 2009

Up to 70% off at Stereo Panda

I’ve always liked what Stereo Panda do, but their prices have always been a bit of an issue. It’s a problem that isn’t entirely their fault, the simple fact of the matter is that it’s hard to produce a quality product in Europe without the cost being higher than pretty much anywhere else in the world. Luckily, they’ve got a HUGE sale going on at the moment, making their goods distinctly affordable.

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