Looking for clothes “Made in the USA”?

made in the usaBIZMOLOGY — The Bangladesh garment factory collapse two weeks ago that killed some 650 people (and came on the heels of a factory fire that killed more than 100 people in November) has put the apparel industry back in the spotlight. In the past two weeks, I’ve seen and read a number of news stories with talking heads from retail associations discussing the global supply chain, but I’m left wondering, “Who’s making clothes in the US?”

Recent news coverage has noted that many US clothing companies don’t have any direct experience with their contract manufacturers and are often in the dark about working conditions. Others have said using overseas manufacturers is a good thing for the global economy since it provides jobs, but the real emphasis should be on fair trade, not moving manufacturing operations back to the US.

Viewpoints aside, I see business opportunity. If consumers start buying more domestically produced clothing, then US production might ramp up in response. Manufacturing might expand, and new competitors may even set up shop to gain their piece of market share. A recent Reuters article stated Wal-Mart pledged to spend $50 billion over 10 years buying American-made products (that’s not just apparel, by the way).

So I tapped the Hoover’s database to find out who’s making apparel right now in the US. I notice most contract manufacturers are either located in the Los Angeles area or outside New York City, where there are “garment districts.” Most just make basic cotton knits. It seems easy to buy a T-shirt made in the US, but specialty fabrics? Not so much. Some other things surprised me. For example, I really thought companies like Dickies, Levi’s, and Patagonia made their clothes here, but they don’t.

Let’s take a look at what companies are “Made in the USA.” This list is by no means exhaustive, by the way:

  • American Apparel is a well-known one. The company makes inexpensive trendy clothes for the urban hipster at its Los Angeles factory. (It makes kids’ clothes too.) CEO Dov Charney has been a vocal critic of sweatshops, so most people have heard of this one, even if they’re over 25 and don’t shop there.
  • Diamond Gusset makes tough jeans for men and women, from your basic denim to specialty styles for bikers and hunters. Its factory is located in Georgia.
  • About 20% of Eileen Fisher clothing is made in the US. The women’s casual clothing company strives for transparency around social consciousness — it uses four US-based contract manufacturers (including Andari Fashion) and has a Made in USA section on its website. The clothes are sold online and at high-end retailers such as Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.
  • Fox Apparel (doing business as Texas Jeans) makes men’s, women’s, and kids’ denim from a factory in North Carolina. The interesting thing about Texas Jeans is that even its fabric, thread, buttons, and zippers are made here.
  • For your unmentionables, Hanky Panky makes women’s lingerie. Its website states “Hanky Panky has been manufacturing in the Northeast area of the USA since 1977. Manufacturing locally saves time, fuel, and shipping costs, thus drastically reducing the generation of CO2. It also keeps our factories where we can see them, allowing us to monitor both the quality of our products and the working conditions.” So there.
  • Hippy Tree is another company that buys some of their clothes, like T-shirts and basic cotton knits, from US manufacturers. This company makes men’s surfer-style clothes. Again, not all of its clothes are made here, so check the labels or call the company — a real person answered when I did.
  • Jacquart Fabric Products makes Stormy Kromer-brand rugged winter clothes such as coats and hats from a factory in Wisconsin.
  • Women’s apparel maker Karen Kane makes 80% of its clothes in the US using Los Angeles-based contract manufacturers. Its clothes are sold at major department stores such as Macy’s.
  • Athletic shoemaker New Balance has five company-owned factories in Massachusetts and Maine. Still, those five factories only produce about 25% of its shoes sold in the US.
  • Maine-based Rancourt & Company makes quality leather shoes for men and women. Finally, something office-appropriate!
  • German T-shirt company Spreadshirt has four manufacturing plants, and two are in the US (in Nevada and Pennsylvania).

In addition, the website AmericansWorking.com is a directory of hundreds of types of consumer products made in the USA, from apparel and electronics to furniture any toys.

Tracey Panek

Tracey Panek retired from journalism at the ripe old age of 29 to work for Hoover's, where she enjoys writing about international and publicly traded companies.

Read more articles by Tracey Panek.

Comments

  1. Made in USA is becoming the trend again which is a good thing for the US economy. Our company can also do lower minimums unlike if you go overseas, they require a higher quantity to even start your order. The time difference is also another factor besides the language barrier which complicates things.

  2. Laura Huchzermeyer Laura Huchzermeyer says:

    Just wanted to add a little about the Made in the USA clothing issue.
    The other day I was shopping at Nordstrom Rack… and without even really trying I got home with two nice shirts with the “Made in the USA” label. I wasn’t necessarily searching for this… but was pleasantly surprised by it.

    Apparently Nordstrom works with vendors who produce items in the USA. And you can even search Made in the USA into their search, and it will find all products available online that were made domestically.

    Also on Nordstrom’s FAQ page they boast their Product Group, which assures that Nordstrom label products are made in accordance with applicable laws and ethical practices.

  3. Anon American says:

    Here are some additional links to companies, that manufacture clothing here, in the USA:

    1) http://www.americansworking.com/clothingmens.html
    2) http://www.allamericanclothing.com/
    3) http://www.fairindigo.com/cproduct_info.php/fair_trade/Men_Clothing/product_name/Men%27s_Made_In_The_USA_Organic_T-shirt/style/32023
    4) http://www.fairindigo.com/cproduct_info.php/fair_trade/Men_Clothing/product_name/Men%27s_Restore_America_USA-made_Organic_Tee/style/31650
    5) http://www.woodchuckcase.com/collections/beats-by-dre/products/beats-by-dre-mahogany
    6) http://www.unionlabel.com/
    7) http://www.allusaclothing.com/american-made-mens-clothing-s/1817.htm
    8) http://www.theunionshop.org/product/custom-leather-products/leather-binders-notebooks-portfolios/venture-everyday-large-leather-journal/
    9) http://www.stillmadeinusa.com/men.html
    10) http://www.nortonsusa.com/Clothing-Mens_c6.htm
    11) http://americanmadeyes.com/clothingamerican.html
    12) http://www.findusmade.com/Mall/Apparel_Men.htm
    13) http://madeinusachallenge.com/made-in-america-master-list/
    14) http://www.carhartt.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?storeId=10051&catalogId=10101&langId=-1&categoryId=62111#products
    15) http://www.rockmount.com/

    Also: Engineered Garments of New York, N.Y.; Woolrich Woolen Mills, of New York, N.Y.; Duluth Pack, of Duluth, MN; Shinola, of Detroit, MI; Alden of Middleborough, Mass.; Gitman Bros. of Ashland, PA; Fairends of L.A., CA; BE SURE TO TYPE IN WHATEVER ITEM YOU ARE LOOKING FOR, FOLLOWED BY “USA MADE MADE IN USA”. For those on a very tight budget, BUY USED, from Thrift stores, or online, from sellers who ship within the U.S. – this keeps your hard-earned $$ right here in the USA, and is something EVERY PROUD AMERICAN can do, to help AMERICANS, at a time, when more Americans, than ever, are out of work. For those buying NEW, be sure to BUY MADE IN USA, which will keep hard-working AMERICANS employed, and eventually, due to consumer demand, will bring even more manufacturing jobs back to the USA.

  4. I justed wanted to add I get my t-shirts and sweatshirts from UnionShirtSupply.com. They sell very high quality made in USA shirts to the public at reasonable prices.
    I have been buying from them for about 8 yrs. now and have been very pleased. You should check them out.
    Buy American!

  5. It seems to only make sense. You’re an American based company, why not build your products here in the USA? You want the money to go here to this country, don’t you? If you have manufacturing plants all over the world, there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as they have headquarters in that country to help make sure people are treated well and that products are made well.

  6. Gunter Ahrendt says:

    I have a List of US made Products website that you might find useful at

    usproducts.jimdo.com

    I have over 3700 companies listed and it is growing.

  7. One note, most online clothing boutiques such as ModCloth, Lulus & deloom all have the option to search the term “USA” on their sites. They carry several of the same brands, all which are exclusively made in the United States.

  8. clothingmadeinusablog says:

    It is true, there are more people every day looking for clothing made in the USA. The quest for finding clothing is difficult but certainly not impossible. Currently the United States manufactures only 2% of all of its clothing that is sold. So, because it is difficult, you need to shop intelligently. Certain department stores like Nordstroms will have much more “Made in USA” clothing than Kohls, Sears or JC Penney. And there is always some of the internet companies, like you had mentioned. Sometimes, if a department store has a website, you can ‘search’ for “Made in USA” clothing. -Jack A

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