everything we make, we make here in the USA.
that’s a commitment we made from the very beginning, and it remains at the core of who we are as a company. we talk about what it means to us often, so this year we wanted to look to people we respect and admire in a number of different industries and ask a few questions about what “Made In America” means to them.
natalie chanin | founder+designer, Alabama Chanin
longtime “slow fashion” pioneer who has dedicated her career to ethical and conscious clothing production.
when you hear the phrase "Made in America”, what does that make you think of? how do you visualize that? i have a deep connection to America as a land of makers. maybe this is the era i grew up in, or maybe the region, but i always think of us as a nation of makers of exceptional products. this is the “Made in America” i imagine, and the place i want us to be, and [that i] work towards every day.
how do you think the level of consideration for "Made in America" goods has changed over the past few years? especially today, we are seeing more businesses choose to manufacture closer to home. there are myriad reasons for this, but the result is always more control over your product, less environmental impact, and greater economic impact on our communities.
when you envision the future of "Made in America", say ten years from now, what do you see? i believe the future will see us return to making close to home—hence “Made in America” for us. i see a future where “shop” and “home economics” classes will return to schools so that we raise more informed consumers. when we are able to 3D print anything we want in our own homes, i see us yearning for the touch of the human hand, and consequently, humanity. this will send us out into our communities to support makers, but also to learn to make ourselves.
cedric smith | painter and photographer
considerate consumer of fashion, and an artist whose work tackles poignant perspectives on Black American life.
when you hear the phrase "Made in America”, what does that make you think of? how do you visualize that? jobs in the USA. i visualize the all-American Dream in the sense of keeping jobs local and streaming the money back into the communities.
if someone were apathetic toward where something is being made, how would you explain to that person why it matters to you? it goes back to job creation. the more we outsource, the less we are able to financially sustain our communities. we need to promote safe working conditions and quality pay for all workers, be it American or abroad. we need to be better for workers globally, and that starts with knowledge, action, and empathy.
do you check the tag for country of origin before you purchase a piece of clothing? yes. i like to know where my clothing comes from. i prefer to buy American-made when possible.
cameron weiss | founder, Weiss Watch Company
los angeles, ca
master craftsman on quest to resurrect bygone watchmaking techniques and industry practices in the United States.
hypothetically, two goods appear to be relatively equal in quality. one is made in America and the other is not. the American-made good is 50% more expensive. honestly, which do you buy? although it might depend on the product, i usually lean toward the “Made in America” version. i have found that i usually get a longer lasting item that way.
how do you think the level of consideration for "Made in America" goods has changed over the past few years? in the past decade, i feel like there has been a revival of smaller, American-made brands and the focus of many people has changed to “quality over quantity”. more people are caring about the ethics behind the products and the stories of how items are crafted. just like the farm-to-table movement in food, i think we have seen a bit of a switch to this conscious consumerism in clothing and fashion as well.
if someone were apathetic toward where something is being made, how would you explain to that person why it matters to you? if they feel apathetic toward where something is being produced, i explain to them that it is not very often you get to meet the craftsperson behind the product... i believe the romantic quality behind owning a piece of [a] brand or person's art is a completely different feeling than something showing up in a box from wherever.
kyle allen | creative consultant & producer
los angeles, california
a beloved former i+w team member who now works across multiple industries bringing creative solutions to a myriad of brands and organizations.
how do you think the level of consideration for "Made in America" goods has changed over the past few years? in the early 2000s, “Made in the USA” became a popularized movement and somewhat idolized, representing consumer integrity. i’ve seen over the last decade as fast fashion has continued to encroach, more consumers and many brands are being faced with the heartbreaking and difficult decision to choose between limited domestic offerings or the variety of often cheaply produced options made overseas. with fewer options to purchase “Made in America“ goods, it has become more of a novelty rather than a standard practice.
if someone were apathetic toward where something is being made, how would you explain to that person why it matters to you? it’s not to say that all products made overseas are of lesser quality, and i rarely think that’s the best point to begin any conversations regarding manufacturing. but in the case of “Made in America”, local economies matter. reinvesting dollars into our local economy is hugely important, and creating a cycle that supports domestic farming of raw materials, manufacturing, transporters, and eventually local retailers is the driving force behind my conviction to buy “Made in the USA”.
do you check the tag for country of origin before you purchase a piece of clothing? always. almost in habit. it’s like checking the ingredients of a grocery store item. it may not tell the full story, but it will give a good indication of how long the garment will last, what its perceived is vs. its real value. it’s always a delightful surprise like winning a treasure hunt when i see that “Made in USA” label, and one that i hope will happen more often in the future.
eric goldstein | selvage business leader, Vidalia Mills
new york, ny
denim industry veteran with a long-term commitment to developing sustainable American selvage denim production.
how do you think the level of consideration for "Made in America" goods has changed over the past few years? unfortunately, it became less and less important to many people. people thought it was okay to let jobs for goods go to other countries, [thinking] the USA would control the tech sector. well, it never really worked that way. currently, COVID-19 has forced many brands to reconsider their supply chain and move it closer to home. as a result, i think/hope you will be seeing more and more products being made in America.
when you envision the future of "Made in America", say ten years from now, what do you see? [i envision] many smaller, high-tech sustainable factories throughout the country producing a wide variety of hard goods and soft goods, a clean environment, jobs, and more creativity in manufacturing... i also believe that transparency will become more important. people want to know about factories and how the employees are treated, how environmentally friendly they are, and how big the carbon footprint for a product is. it’s all about sustainability and transparency.
rinne allen | photographer
has focused her career on documenting process, visually exploring the effort that goes into creating and making.
hypothetically, two goods appear to be relatively equal in quality. one is made in America and the other is not. the American-made good is 50% more expensive. honestly, which do you buy? i honestly would, in most circumstances, buy the American-made item. i think if we all buy more consciously it will lead to us all buying less, and that will lead to everyone being able to thoughtfully purchase something with a traceable provenance—or at least buy from a purveyor they trust to oversee that provenance. i totally get how the average consumer is not able to make this choice with everything, but if the consumer could be informed about the supply chain and if they could connect with how it impacts them, more consumers would think before they buy… and think about how they buy.
do you check the tag for country of origin before you purchase a piece of clothing? full confession: not always. but, i am very selective about where i purchase things and what i purchase. therefore a lot of the time there has been a pre-filtering, if you will, of options so that i don't have to always check the label. but, even answering this question right now reminds me that we should all do that more often!
when you envision the future of "Made in America", say ten years from now, what do you see? i envision consumers purchasing less by purchasing better. i envision communities having networks of suppliers and manufacturers and growers and purveyors that they know, resources they can turn to. i envision my children knowing where we get things, and the people—the faces and the hands—that made them. i want them to know why they should know, too. i also want there to be plentiful jobs and education and resources and training and ways for people to have meaningful work that they can connect to, and i truly feel that the more connection we feel in our daily interactions, the better our communities will be.
carrie phillips | co-founding partner, BPCM
new york, ny
communications leader committed to cultivating opportunity to reverse environmental impact of the fashion industry.
how do you think the level of consideration for "Made in America" goods has changed over the past few years? the excess of fast fashion has created a natural backlash where people are moving back toward having fewer things of greater quality. we are also in a time where the environmental impact of bringing things from all over the world to us has a cost to our human and environmental health. turning toward things that are made in America has become a way for people to reconnect to the things they buy. it is an act of creating community.
if someone were apathetic toward where something is being made, how would you explain to that person why it matters to you? for me, the way people are treated is critical to how something is made. meaning that you can buy a 5-pack of t-shirts for under $10 at a big-box store, but someone paid the price for how cheap those t-shirts are—and it was most likely the person who made it. when things are made to be mass and cheap, they are often made in factories that have little regard for basic workers rights, safety, or wages. knowing these things help inform us to make better decisions and ask better questions about how and where things are made.
when you envision the future of "Made in America", say ten years from now, what do you see? what the time of COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter has shown us is how inextricably linked we are as human beings, and how the vulnerability of interconnectedness actually makes us stronger and more dynamic as a community. the future of “Made in America” has the potential to uplift and sustain underserved communities and create a new type of prosperity for Americans. if we teach skills and craftsmanship, we will put even greater value on those things as consumers. i envision an America where the crops we grow feed rather than poison the soil, and those crops go to be processed down the street from where they are grown rather than being shipped far away. if we redesign our systems in a way that uplifts our communities, the long-term benefit is connectedness to each other and what we have built together.