One of the most underrated aspects of a good t-shirt is in the fact of becoming a canvas for an artist to showcase on. T-Shirts, unlike a song or sculpture, is an evolving piece of wearable art. Forward Progress Clothing is a prime example of artists using their customers as a living canvas. Forward Progress has a passion for individuality, creativity, and exercise their skills against the musical soundtrack that we all call life. These guys really are all about moving forward.
Forward Progress is an American based brand out of Philadelphia, PA. According to their founder, Jeffrey Oakes, Forward Progress is the culmination of a yearlong effort of tweaking and planning. Forward Progress has roots in many aspects of visual stimulation, including graphic design, web design, and backgrounds in art.
Jeffrey was kind enough to send us a sample of their outerwears to review. During the course of our interview, we’ve grown to really like the crew behind the label and hope that they continue producing such interesting and thought provoking clothing.
I took an Art History course in college. Outside of realizing how little I knew about the creative side of our historical pasts, I did walk away with a new appreciation on the application of artistic principles to achieve an emotional effect. Forward Progress has a very abstract geometric feel. Their designs seem simplistically clever. Shirts in this category often draw the most attention as people are curious to understand why they feel so connected to a particular design.
Another aspect that I like about Forward Progress is their willingness to use the entire canvas. Most t-shirt designers, myself included, stick to the more traditional approach for image placement – front and center. Forward Progress steps outside of those bounds and places their work in locations that are non-traditional. For example, in the shirt we received, the Audio Bloom art is printed at the bottom of the shirt. I’m not sure why, but I couldn’t imagine it anywhere else. The placement of the blooms in relation to the neckline creates an artistic space that is both non-traditional and unique.
Forward Progress prints on Anvil 980 shirts. They are light and extra soft. The shirt I received is not as form fitting as an American Apparel shirt (in contrast), but they feel good and generally hold up to many washings. Most of their shirts are printed using a water-based ink, which adds softness to the final product.
Water-based prints usually solicit the highest favor amongst t-shirt connoisseurs.
The custom printed tagless label is well executed on the shirt. They have a heavyweight custom paper label pinned to the shirt sporting their logo as well.
Screenprinting tagless labels is an extra expense for any brand. Generally the blank’s original label has to be removed, and then the design has to be printed onto the inside of the shirt. It seems like a small task, but it generally requires the labor of two shirt prints into a single product. Brands do this primarily for the comfort of their customers. Such attention is much appreciated by a guy who wears a shocking amount of t-shirts.
Delivery was fast and as promised. When I asked Jeff how long their typical order fulfillment took, he said:
“Pending any long holidays we ship all orders within 48 hours. Because we keep a complete inventory of all products, our customers don’t need to worry about made to order delays or quality assurance issues!”
Most brands, and this is especially true for startups or “daily tee” sites, print a shirt when it’s ordered. This methodology prevents any overstock, but typically adds a dramatic amount of time to the fulfillment process. When the shirts are pre-printed, customers will have their shirt in hand much sooner.
They do ship US and International (rates varying) via USPS.
This is where Forward Progress needs some time to fully develop. Right now, their shirts hover in price around $28.00. Understanding what went into the production of the shirt (pre-printed, custom labels and tags, water based inks, etc), I understand how they came to that price point. Most t-shirt consumers, however, might not. Forward Progress is still a young venture and I think they will develop the perfect pricing structure as they grow.
They do have a surprising amount of sales. A recent holiday deal saw shirts go for 30% off, and Jeff indicated they are always posting different coupons throughout their social channels. He mentioned they have a promotion to get 10% off if you take a picture of one of their stickers posted somewhere.
These guys are artists. That in itself is enough for me to recommend them to anyone looking for an abstract piece to sport around town. I appreciate their attention to detail, and love the motivation behind the brand. Jeff is an awesome guy to communicate with, and the entire brand scores extra points for the quality of their product and how everything is well thought out and executed.
Jeff said something that I think perfectly encapsulates Forward Progress:
“The true inspiration for our brand is to create a persona where the clothing you wear becomes a part of you, not only who you are, but as a physical extension of yourself.”
Well said, Jeff.
Philadelphia, PA, USA
The true inspiration for our brand is to create a persona where the clothing you wear becomes a part of you, not only who you are, but as a physical extension of yourself.