By Debbie Carlson
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) There’s a renaissance of startup labels selling U.S.-made products.
While some high-end companies like Brooks Brothers have always made clothing in the U.S., it’s been difficult to buy American-made casual clothing because of the textile industry consolidation in recent decades, as several mills closed.
But the industry didn’t die completely, and now there’s a renaissance of startup labels selling U.S.-made products, both clothing and home goods, where the focus is on high-quality U.S. craftsmanship priced competitively with imports.
For these sellers, having everything in the entire supply chain – or nearly all – be U.S.-based is an important part to supporting local communities.
Several factors and macroeconomic trends make “grown and sewn in the U.S.” possible: e-commerce lets small firms tell a story and sell directly to consumers who have an interest in natural fibers like cotton and wool, a willingness to invest in longer-lasting higher-quality goods and a desire to shop local.
Not surprisingly, many of these labels started because they couldn’t find what they were looking for. At McIntosh, founder of Homegrown Cotton, was disappointed the better-quality polo shirts costing around $80 or $90 were imports.
He wanted to keep production as local as possible and guarantee it’s only his cotton in every polo, so every step of the process is done in North and South Carolina. The shirt’s final cutting and sewing happens 40 miles from his farm. ($69, www.homegrowncotton.com)
Taking a page out of the farm-to-table movement, Anna Brakefield and Mark Yeager, father-daughter owners of Alabama-based Red Land Cotton, call their bedding and towel brand a “farm-to-home” product. By growing and ginning their own cotton, they create a higher-quality fiber, which is spun, woven and finished in South Carolina and Georgia before being sewn in their hometown.