Skip to content
Society, Politics & Law
  • Activity
  • 15 mins
  • Level 1: Introductory

The secret life of T-shirts

Updated Wednesday 9th January 2019

Explore the secret life of T-shirts as we look deeper into how they are made, how the value is created and who benefits from this value. 

Have a look at your T-shirt label, where does it say it was made? What does this actually mean? Your T-shirt may have been all around the world before it arrived in the shop you bought it from, so why is only one country listed? 

Your T-shirt has been on a long transformation process from a cotton field to your wardrobe. Find out more about all of these stages and which of them add the most value to your T-shirt. 

Finally, who benefits from this value? Find out more with our interactive exploration into the secret life of T-shirts:

Launch the interactive exploration

Secret life of t-shirts, logo of a t-shirt and a launch button. Creative commons image Icon The Open University under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 license Click the image above to launch.

Find out more about Economics:

Become an OU student

Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Dreamstime
BA (Honours) Politics, Philosophy and Economics free course icon

Society, Politics & Law 

BA (Honours) Politics, Philosophy and Economics

Where do social order (and disorder) come from? How can we make ourselves richer, and does society always gain? What does justice mean, how do we define our rights? Politics, philosophy and economics (PPE) – and the ideas and values that inform them – are central to how modern societies are organised and governed. This degree explores fundamental questions of power and ideology, beliefs and values, and how income and wealth are produced and distributed. As well as gaining insight into debates that dominate the daily news, you’ll learn a range of skills and techniques to help you analyse and contribute to the discussion. You’ll also gain a deeper understanding of the way arguments (and public policies) are constructed in theory and tested in practice. These analytical and critical skills are highly valued by employers in a broad range of occupations, across the private and public sectors.

OU course
Economics in context free course icon Level 1 icon


Economics in context

Why are markets so powerful in most economies today? What is the role of the government in different economies, and how does this role shape opportunities of different people and firms? What explains global inequalities? Why is economic growth such a key economic goal in most countries today? Are there other goals economies could pursue? You'll unravel similar questions, using insights from recent history, key economic thinkers, and drawing on economic perspectives and examples. This module is a building block towards a critical perspective on economics and economic choices for our daily lives.

OU course
Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Dreamstime
BA/BSc Open degree free course icon

Society, Politics & Law 

BA/BSc Open degree

Over 40 per cent of OU students who graduate do so with an Open degree. It’s a statistic we’re proud of – the BA/BSc Open is one of the most flexible undergraduate programmes in the UK, and exemplifies our distinctive and often life-changing approach to learning more than any other qualification. With this degree you have the freedom and opportunity to achieve a uniquely tailored qualification. You can study any subjects you like, in any combination, enabling you to:

OU course

More like this

Creative commons image Icon Loz Pycock under Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 license
Trump and Brexit: What do they owe to economists? article icon

Society, Politics & Law 

Trump and Brexit: What do they owe to economists?

The reasons for the Trump phenomenon and Brexit vote are many and various, but have we overlooked ways in which standard economics, by failing to take seriously the radical uncertainty endemic in modern political economies, has contributed to the populist turn? Richard Bronk argues that by mischaracterising their profession as able to make precise forecasts of uncertain futures – an impossible task – economists contributed to the current denigration of experts. More importantly, by assuming that people form rational expectations, they encouraged us to ignore the transformative power of simple narratives.

Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Michel Loiselle |
Unaltered questions – and a worrying change of answers article icon

Society, Politics & Law 

Unaltered questions – and a worrying change of answers

In June 2013, the UK is hosting a major gathering of world leaders as they aim to map out the path to economic recovery.

Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Simon Budgen
Evan Davis on... the WalMart effect video icon

Society, Politics & Law 

Evan Davis on... the WalMart effect

After The Bottom Line looked at WalMart, Evan Davis was keen to find out what a declining economy has done to the WalMart effect.

5 mins
Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Paul Lampard |
Risk will return article icon

Society, Politics & Law 

Risk will return

Is it too much to expect that the new financial system will be fundamentally less accident-prone than the old?


For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?