Dear Duluth Trading Company

Good afternoon,

I hope you will forgive me posting this here. It seems the email address on your customer-service page does not work.

I live in Saudi Arabia and over the years have taken to ordering polo shirts from you guys when I return home to the US every six months. I suspect I will soon stop doing that.

I wear your long-tail polo shirts with the handy pocket I use for my reading glasses. I wear them with black slacks in the office, or blue jeans when I have to go out to the field.

I was home last at Christmastime. I live near Philadelphia and so went to your store near King of Prussia Mall. It had no short-sleeve long-tail polos. The very nice salesperson explained that since it was winter they did not stock the shirts I like. OK, strike one.

I got back to Saudi Arabia. After a few months I noticed my favorite purple shirt was showing wear at the sleeves. This would be after seven or eight months in rotation. Today I noticed my gray shirt is worn at the collar. Strike two.

So I went online to order four new shirts. I will be home next month to pick them up. You no longer stock colors that go with blue jeans or black slacks. You added a black shirt and discontinued yellow and purple. You never offered white. So I could only order two shirts as you only have two acceptable colors. There is another strike,

So I tried to write this email to you using your email on your website. It got kicked back. Perhaps you do not accept emails from overseas? Then I tried to call you. I got two rings and a hang up each time I called. Do you only man your customer-care phones during certain hours? This is not indicated on your website.

It seems to me your brand was supposed to embody toughness for working people. In my experience, the quality is just not there anymore. I do not expect to have to buy shirts every few months.

Have you changed your customer focus? It is hard to see how you expect a guy to wear black slacks and a black shirt. Surely simple white ought to be available.

In any case, I am dissatisfied with the availability of your shirts year-round. I am not happy with color selection. I am truly upset with the reduction in the quality. Further, you have made it quite difficult to contact you.

All in all, another American company that cheapens everything to make an extra buck.

I suspect I shall never order from you again.

Paul, in Saudi

Oh, wow.

I just recently ordered undershirts from Duluth Trading for my husband. They are HIDEOUSLY expensive, but he’s been murdering Hanes and Fruit of the Looms, so I figured the added expense might be worth it. He “approved” the first batch I ordered, and I was looking to order the next batch, with the eventual hope of replacing all of his undershirts.

Keep the Dopers posted on your efforts, please. My dollars would appreciate it!

(Just an aside: the “pocket in the polo shirt” requirement is something I heard my entire life. It was a demand my father had, and now it’s one my husband insists upon. I have a suspicion your numbers are legion, and I wonder why polo shirt manufacturers do not flood the market with pockets!)

Check evil bay and see if anyone is selling the older, almost bullet proof shirts.

Is “evil bay” a typo?

I managed to connect to Duluth Trading just now on their chat function. I provided them a link to this page. They might reply, if they care at all.

I’ve been wearing Duluth polo shirts for years. I haven’t noticed any change in quality.

I’m sure Duluth contracts with multiple overseas factories. Maybe they did get a bad batch of shirts?

Could be. But what is up with all the dark colors? I hope they will reply.

I’ve noticed that they sell out of popular colors, and it can take a while to get them back. I do think that a large part of your problem in reaching them is that you are overseas.

Brand names really don’t matter anymore because, no matter what the brand name, it’s all pretty much made in China, and most of their stuff is pretty much crap in terms of quality. I have no problems with foreign goods if the quality is there, but I believe China is by far the worst foreign market we’ve ever had.

No, not at all. The colors I like, purple and yellow are no longer on the web site. (By the way, what about a safety orange?)

I can’t remember the brand any longer, but some years back, I’d found t-shirts that my husband really liked - heavy fabric, well-made, and actually made in USA, which tells you how long ago it was. As his got tatty, I went back to the same store and touched the same brand - now thinner fabric, made in China, but same price, of course. So we started shopping for another brand.

Anyway, it’s not just Duluth.

In America, there is nothing that’s orange that’s safe.

Its been a while since you’ve been back, right?

Oh I hear ya!

Hanes used to be THE name in quality undershirts. They came out not too long ago with the “Big Beefy” line in Hanes. It was a heavier fabric, good sturdy seams, and I got excited, thinking I wouldn’t need to buy t-shirts for a while.

The fabric had not even begun to wear thin (you know what I mean) and here are these huge horizontal tears right under the pits. They were so large, mending would have been impossible. The body of the shirt, the sleeves are practically pristine. I’ll have some sturdy rags.

My disappointment was so massive, I hopped on over to Duluth Trading. The undershirt prices made my heart skip a few beats, but the mental image of the Hanes (Hanes!) shirt pushed past my hesitation.

Let’s see how Paul’s story progresses.

I am going to bed. I am sure by the morning, Mr Duluth will write us here to say he understands now the error of this ways and stuff.

By the way, anyone recommend some nice tough polos?

Good night.

Actually, clothing comes from a bunch of different countries, and not just China. You can tell, as the country of origin info is quite prominent. I’m not at home but I’ve seen stuff from India, Bangladesh, South American countries and even a couple from Middle East countries. I think labor costs in China have made it somewhat uncompetitive for clothing, particularly this sort of low-end stuff. (Then again, a label that says something other than Made in China can be misleading. Here’s a story about how thousands of Chinese laborers, legal and not, have moved to Italy where they can produce clothing cheaply but trade on the cachet associated with the Made in Italy label.)

As for that, try American Giant. I don’t have their polo shirts but bought a sweatshirt from them that I like quite a bit.

Don’t stores stock colors for the coming season? So, by mid June, Duluth is already carrying fall and winter colors which tend to be darker. If true then by December they’d be starting to push their brighter spring colors.

Orange should be year-round. It’s a work-related color. Highway workers (maintenance, surveys, construction) MUST wear orange within the right-of-way. General construction, oil fields, mining, anywhere there is dangerous equipment that is bent on maiming and killing people, you gotta wear orange.

Except railroads. Workers within the railroad right-of-way must wear RED.

How many highway workers and construction workers are wearing $40 polos on the job?

I read a book a few years ago (sorry, I can’t remember the title or author) about the decline of brands. The central argument was that high-end brands used to try to distinguish themselves by offering higher quality (albeit at higher prices) but now they distinguish themselves just be bigger marketing campaigns. Companies have found it’s more effective to spend money convincing customers they make a better product than to spend it making a better product.

Aren’t they usually wearing safety vests, which include reflective light stripes? I can’t imagine depending on the reflectivity of a knit cotton polo shirt not to get killed.