I’m a huge advocate for buying American made products and keeping manufacturing and production jobs in the U.S.. Honestly, I don’t really have anything against other countries specifically, and let’s be honest, some are well known and respected for the manufacturing or production of a particular item. The Swiss are known for their time pieces, Egypt for cotton, Italy for leather goods. But otherwise, we have the capabilities of producing much of our daily needs, and we used to be pretty good at manufacturing a whole lot of items both locally, and nationally. If I were English, I’d try and buy English made; German, I’d look for “Made in Germany”, you get the idea.
My business is founded on the idea of buying American made products. I specialize in American made goods and supplies for knitters, crocheters, and fiber artists. I’m amazed at how many people think that’s a crazy notion, and on the opposite side, how many people shop specifically at my shop because they know they are supporting their neighbors and the American economy. I’d say I hear from both types of people each week.
Any way, I wanted to clean out my clothes closet and I thought that using “Made in USA” as a criteria would be a good way to help me sort things out. Boy was I wrong.
Today I went through just my t-shirts and tops. As you can imaging, I’m trying to replace the stuff in my wardrobe with US made items. But since I so rarely shop, only discard clothes when I truly no longer wear them or I can no longer repair them, and try to shop at resale shops, it’s a very slow process. But I intentionally wanted to send a few items on to a resale shop, and limit some of the clutter in my closet now, so I sorted based on this criteria.
Here’s what I learned today:
1. The majority of event/promo/organization T’s are NOT US made. That is a bummer. One exception was made in Canada for a Canadian event, so I put it on the “Made in U.S. ” pile. Because it was made in the same country of the intended audience, I figured in some way, logically, that counted.
2. Also, the older the t-shirt is, the more LIKELY it is to be US made (if I could still read the label). Yes, I still have t-shirts from the early to mid 1990’s. A few of them were evet T’s (First Night ’95) and they were the only event T’s in my US made pile of t-shirts.
3. I have 1, just 1, U.S. Made turtleneck. And I know for a fact that it is from Christmas 1989. (Again, yes, I have really old clothes. Hey, if they still fit and are “classic” enough they should last years!). I wear a lot of turtlenecks. And to be honest, I’ve been repairing many of them for years, maybe even decades. I figure they go under other tops, so it’s ok if I have to mend seams. But only one U.S. Made in the entire lot?
4. There were a few surprises, but again, these items were old (meaning I’ve had them since college, which makes them around 20 years old). A number of old GAP, JCrew, and Disney items were US made!
5. There was one “made in the U.K.”. That threw me for a loop because you don’t hear much about English sweat shops or English quality. And it was a very prominent label! So I wasn’t sure what to make of that. I left it in the U.S. pile only because it wasn’t made in Bangladesh, China, Taiwan, or Honduras.
My conclusion? Recent (with on the last 20 years) trade agreements and business practices have shifted our manufacturing oversees. The proof is in my dresser.
So, when out and shopping for clothes, read your labels. If you are considering promo items for a company, event, or organization, please ask about US made options. If more people start asking and buying US made, more items will be US made. If more items are US made, more jobs are created. If more jobs are created, more money stays here. It’s basic economics. But you don’t need a degree in economics to understand it or act on it.
Now, on to the closet…