For my latest buy this…instead of that installment, I challenged myself to find denim that’s made in the US for about the same price as denim that’s imported. I couldn’t do it. I did find a couple of brands that produce in the US for under $100, but just barely. And that’s still about twice as much as imported denim.
But that’s what we have to work with. I’m not going to try and convince you to pay more than $100 for jeans if you’re dead-set against it. Oh, wait, yes I am. Seriously, though, in my experience I’ve not found a pair of jeans that fit me as well, and last as long as premium denim (made in the US) does. And I’ve had a LOT OF EXPERIENCE with jeans. More than I’d care to admit.
Anyway, as far as denim is concerned, it’s VERY easy to buy made in the US, if you’re open to spending about $100 – most of the contemporary designer brands are all made here. Many many years ago, before I was bitten by the premium denim bug (started with Goldsign, which still remains my absolute favorite denim brand), I wore Gap jeans, but I swore off them completely several years ago; they stopped fitting me right and I found the quality to be very poor. Anyway, I never bought a pair of Gap jeans without the extra 40% off, because that’s what they were worth to me – not much at all.
Madewell had promise, too, I suppose, but I never found a pair that fit me like I thought it should, and now that they’ve raised prices to over $100, I’d rather spend a little more to get a pair of jeans that are made in the US. Again, with Madewell, I feel like they’re trying to position themselves as an “American heritage” brand, and they have an opportunity to do MORE with regard to producing in the US, but don’t. I read recently that Madewell’s denim is designed in Los Angeles, and they take pride in that, but then they produce their denim in Vietnam, or China. Really? And with the price increase they’re selling their jeans for about the same price or more than you can purchase denim that’s made in the US (around $125 or so), in Los Angeles, actually (American Apparel produces $99 jeans in LA). It just rubs me the wrong way. With Madewell’s size and influence, they COULD produce their jeans in the US I think – and choose not to.
Ultimately, yes, you’re going to pay more than $50 for denim that’s made in the US. For many, I understand that’s a hurdle to get over, especially if you’ve never tried premium denim before. What’s all the fuss anyway? (Again, I’ll refer you to my post on why I pay more than $200 for jeans for that answer…). And remember…cost per wear!! cost per wear…
But, as I also mentioned in the post about paying more than $200 for jeans, you CERTAINLY don’t have to. If it is important to you to to buy made in the US, AND stay under $100, it’s absolutely possible by shopping sales (the best places in my experience to look for denim under $100 is Nordstrom sale section, Nordstrom Rack, and The Outnet – although they’re not all going to be made in the US), and using coupon codes from places like Shopbop and others.
Why is made in the US important?
If you live in the US, or in North America, made in the US is “local” – the environmental impact of transportation, etc. is lessened (although often, the fabric is imported…). Shopping local is always a good thing, in my opinion.
Working Conditions – some would argue that standards in the US for paid leave and health care are behind other countries’, but in general our working conditions in the US are better than in Bangladesh, Vietnam, and the Dominican Republic and under some circumstances, China. Although companies such as Everlane are trying to improve working/living conditions in and around their factories in China, and are “radically transparent” about it.
Heritage – denim is pretty quintessentially “American,” and there’s still an industry here around it. Interestingly, it was the premium denim brands like 7 for All Mankind in the early 2000’s who brought denim manufacturing “back” to the US in a big way. Levi’s had already left, Gap, etc…
Quality – I am under no illusion at all that made in the US automatically equals higher quality and longevity. In my experience, however, and in general, it does. I have paid careful attention to my clothing, where it’s made, how long it lasts, and without a doubt, I have found that the things I love the most, and that last the longest are made in the US. Base your expectations of quality on your own experience with a brand and inspecting a particular garment, NOT on where it’s made; that’s what I have done, and determined that I wish to stick with made in the US.
Denim made in the US under $100:
Bluer Denim | most are $95, and top out at $125
Which we Want | at Need Supply Co (my impression is that these are more “juniors” or modern sizing, but most are $99)
American Apparel | under $100 (also probably run small)
Sale sections (look for brands that are made in the US) –
The Outnet | one of the best places for denim under $100
Nordstrom sale section | they just started their clearance sale on 2/11
Barney’s Warehouse | a GREAT selection
Revolve Sale | TULIP is usually good for 10% off
Singer22 | has coupon codes frequently and good sales
Denim made in the US under $150 :
Denim made in the US – $150 to $200+ :
7 for all Mankind
AG | Anthropologie has some exclusive styles
Citizens of Humanity
Eileen Fisher | they are NOT all made in the US
Imogene & Willie (use code GRECHEN15 at Zady for 15% off)
Joe’s | not all made in the US
Levi’s | only the dark and white washed 501 styles are made in the US
Rag & Bone/JEAN
Do you buy denim that’s made in the US? is it important to you? why or why not? What is your favorite denim brand? Did I miss any??
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Madewell Transport tote vs. Made in the USA Leather totes