Our Factories

BEHIND EVERY BELT IS

People-first manufacturing

Unbelts exists to create flexible, fairly-paid sewing jobs - and to partner with conscientious component suppliers who pay living wages and value long-term employee relationships as highly as we do. Read on to meet our key suppliers.

Our Edmonton sewing studio

Founder Claire moved back to Edmonton in 2014, three years after starting Unbelts in Shanghai, China. In 2017, the Edmonton studio was born to support the launch of the new Intrepid belt. By cutting and sewing Intrepids in Edmonton, we could respond in real-time to customer demand - like when our Heathered Slate Intrepids outsold the Wilderness pattern 10:1 and we had to dial up our Slate output tout suite

Local production also allows us to grow our circularity initiatives. It’s our “belt hospital” that lets us make good on our lifetime warranty, and it’s our prototyping lab for upcycled Unbelts Loop products.

We run our Edmonton studio exactly the same way we started in Shanghai: paying living wages and providing flexible work that supports our team’s real-life needs.

Ms. Ou’s sewing studio

A woman in the driver’s seat and a team built of her ambitious neighbours, many of whom are family: we loved Ms. Ou’s story from the get-go.

We deliberately call her Zhongshan, Guangdong enterprise a studio instead of a factory because of its cozy scale - about 20 employees - and the closeness of its team. All are paid living wages and receive way-above-average vacation time. Ms. Ou comes from the same village as her team, and prioritizes time at home with extended families.

Ms. Ou’s team was instrumental in our mask pivot during the COVID pandemic. You can read about how our businesses became more interdependent than ever here.

Lydia’s buckle factory

Lydia and Claire met in 2011, when Lydia was working for Unbelts’ first buckle supplier in Shanghai. Claire liked Lydia’s direct communication style and problem-solving spirit - so when Lydia set out to start her own factory a few years later, Unbelts followed.

Lydia’s flexibility with Unbelts' minimum order requirements has made it possible for us to try new buckle colours and styles with lower risk and potential waste. Lydia’s factory is, like our other component suppliers, located in Dongguan, Guangdong province, in south China.

Mr. Wang’s elastic factory

Our Intrepid belt spent two years in development, mostly because of the difficulty we had finding an elastic supplier willing to use recycled PET yarn in their knitting machines. When we found Mr. Wang and toured his factory, we liked what we saw: employees who had been working there for years, not months; a bright canteen serving two meals a day; a clean, dust-free workspace; and a whole team devoted just to quality-checking finished elastic. We’ve worked with him ever since.

Mr. Yeung’s label and packaging factory

When you meet a factory owner who’s built an organic garden on his rooftop for employee use, you take a second look. Mr. Yeung and his team print our belts’ organic cotton care tags, embosses our Intrepids’ secret money pockets, and weaves our Classics’ phrase labels. Since we started working with him in 2016, he has also expanded into packaging production, and prints our Classics’ paper packaging components.

Hungry for more? You might like founder Claire’s TedX talk “A Better Made in China,” or her blog post “What the Heck Does Handmade Mean? And other questions from our China factory trip”.