I have mentioned before that it’s important to me to buy made in the US as much as possible, but I wonder how much MORE is too much more to pay for that? To be completely honest, I’ve never really given it that much though, because up until now I didn’t consider budgetary constraints as much as I do now, and buying made in the US has been a priority for me.
Generally I shop from brands that I know are typically made in the US: James Perse, Splendid, Solow, Everlane*, and know what works for me there. Also, it’s rare to find a premium denim brand that’s NOT made in the US, and since I don’t buy new denim very often, and am not willing to settle, it’s always going to be made in the US.
But I’m concerned that made in the US is exponentially much more expensive, on average. And I know why that is, of course, labor costs are higher, regulation, overhead, etc., and that’s a GOOD thing. We should be paying closer to the “real” cost of our clothes in my opinion – more than $5 for a t-shirt, of course, but $50?
This article recently in Business of Fashion got me thinking about “the hype around made in the US:”
the reality is that no matter how much costs increase to accommodate better working conditions, labour costs in America will always be higher.
My argument will always be that one $50 t-shirt that’s made in the US is better than 10 $5 t-shirts that are made in Bangladesh. For one thing, who needs that many t-shirts? (see how I’m changing??) and in all probability, those $5 t-shirts will be rags after a year when the $50 one will still have held it’s shape and stood up nicely to wear. (I speak from experience here!)
Of course, you also don’t HAVE to spend $50 on a t-shirt, Everlane has wonderful made-in-the-US-tees for $15, and I’ve been told that they’re produced in the same factory that my favorite brand produces their t-shirts (I can’t verify that).
But aside from the argument that paying more for quality is ALWAYS a good idea, what about the environmental/ethical impacts of buying made in the US? There’s a lot more to the story, actually, more than I can articulate here, but it is something we should all being thinking about : being more conscious about our purchases, and knowing more about where they come from.
There are also interesting designers producing in the US, like Emerson Fry, and Eileen Fisher (not everything) that follow a minimalist designer aesthetic that you’ll find harder to replicate by mass market chains, outside of maybe COS, or Zara. Which is something else you’re paying for: Design. But again, how much MORE is too much more? Is this Emerson Fry dress worth $248?
again, from BoF:
…realistically, only a small fraction of American consumers are willing to pay premium prices for US-made apparel. The majority of consumers think of fast fashion, discount retailers, dollar stores and coupons when it comes to purchasing clothing. Country of origin is simply not top of mind.
How much are you willing to pay for made in the US? What’s your limit? How likely are you to consider country of origin when buying clothing?
*not all of their items are made in the US, but most are. And Everlane specifically is very transparent about it’s factories, even the ones in other parts of the world.