NPR Program Follows the Creation of a T-Shirt

May 1, 2013

Update May 1: The Planet Money Tee has been fully funded in less than a day- but you still have time to get your shirt if you want one.

Planet Money, a collaboration between NPR and This American Life, is making a T-shirt – and taking listeners along on the complicated global odyssey behind the shirt’s creation. It’s a way of illustrating how simple consumer products that we take for granted are part of a complex global supply chain.

Over the course of a few months, listeners and readers will meet the people who grow the cotton for the Planet Money shirt, spin the yarn, and cut and sew the fabric. They’ll ride with us on the cargo ships that bring our T-shirt from factories in Bangladesh and Colombia to ports in the US. And they’ll join us as we examine the tangle of international regulations that govern the T-shirt trade the whole way.

Periodic reports from this series will be featured on several Planet Money podcasts and in radio stories on Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

Listeners are invited to purchase in advance one of the T-shirts being produced in the project, using the Kickstarter platform. That purchase will cover the cost of the shirt’s production, and shipping as well as travel costs for journalists as they head out around the globe on this reporting project.

Have questions about the

Why is a T-shirt being sold?

The T-shirts being produced are at the center of the reporting project. Producing a shirt ourselves was a novel and authentic way of covering the story. We are selling the t-shirts at the center of this story in order to cover the costs of the shirts’ production/shipping/handling (cost depends on the number of t-shirts ordered), and the travel and freelance costs (estimated at $41,000) for reporting the series and as a way of drawing listeners and readers into the t-shirt’s odyssey from the start.

How do I buy a shirt?

To create the story, Planet Money needs to know how many T-shirts to order.  NPR’s Planet Money is using Kickstarter as the mechanism for individuals to order a T-shirt . If $50,000 is raised on Kickstarter by approximately May 7, the project will go ahead and all those who placed an order will receive one of the shirts created in the project.

Planet Money is going on a journey with a T-shirt: how is it made? Where is it made? Follow their story.

How much does a shirt cost?

Shirts cost $25 each. (International delivery requires an extra $10). Shirts are expected to ship in the Fall 2013.

Can I pick the sizes/colors of the shirt?

Size, yes.  Color, no. If the project clears the $50,000 goal, then you will be asked whether you would like a men’s or women’s shirt and what size. Photos of the shirts are on the Kickstarter website. The T-shirt will have a code on it that you can scan with your smartphone. It’ll bring you to a site that tells the story of the shirt, photos of the people who made your shirt, and its journey around the globe.

What is Kickstarter?

A website where entrepreneurs and individuals can crowd-source start-up funds for creative projects.

Is this connected with my local station’s pledge drive?

No. This is a special project being run by NPR. Your donations and membership dollars are essential to your Member Station. We hope you support this project AFTER making your pledges to your Member Station.

What if more funds than the cost of travel, freelancers, T-shirt production and handling is raised?  What if there’s a profit?

Once the travel and freelancer costs (estimated at $41,000) and the T-shirt production and handling costs are covered, then the remaining funds will be used for a Planet Money reporting boot camp for NPR Member Station reporters.

I would like to share my opinion about this project with NPR. How can I do that?

Please visit the “contact us” form on to share your thoughts, or call NPR’s Listener Services group at 202.513.3232.

Will NPR be using Kickstarter to raise money for other projects in the future?

This is an experiment.  We do not have plans to do this in the future.