Endorsing America

A commentary


Dressing awfully isn’t usually something I find endearing, but my brother is a very special case as his sartorially clueless self tries really, really hard to please me by attempting to understand fashion.

He’s always asking me what’s “in.” He’ll be like, “Sophie, so, sneakers… are they ‘in’?” Or “Do you like this hat? Are hats ‘in’?” While I’m nine-hundred percent positive he’s mocking the heck out of me, I try to explain to him that you can’t necessarily consider an entire category of clothing “in” or “out” – that pants or shirts will never be “out” but rather the tailoring, the material, or even the idea behind an item of clothing is what makes it “trendy” at that particular point in a product’s life cycle.

We were having one of these chats the other day when I told him that it’s very trendy to buy something that’s “Made in America” at the moment. I mentioned a conversation I had with a friend of mine who owns his own American-made Menswear shop in Brooklyn, New York. He’s twenty-three, lives in his store, works harder than any other twenty-something I’ve ever known, yet you can buy many of his handmade, one-of-a-kind designs for around the same price of an Urban Outfitters t-shirt that’s been marked up 200% because it’s been made so cheaply overseas. It’s so unfortunate for a legitimate contributor to the growth of menswear to have to hope for a fad that should be a norm to last more than a season or two.

And he’s certainly not the only one hoping.

A conversation has been growing in the United States about buying American-made products as a means to bring manufacturing jobs that have been lost over the years back home from overseas.
It’s been labeled the “Made-in-America Movement” and just a few days ago, the effort was endorsed by the number one retailer in the world – America’s very own Wal-Mart – at a two day #MadeinUSA summit, where the company promoted their commitment to put $5 billion per year towards American-made goods. Although the number is a rather minor accounting move for a company as big as Wal-mart, theories that the “Made-in-America Movement” could be the secret to creating millions of jobs in the US began popping up all over the internet, providing competitors follow in the retail giant’s same path.

It’s easy to disregard things that are actually quite relative simply because we don’t understand or recognize that an issue exists. I am engrossed in the fashion industry. It is my course of study and it is likely the business I will build my entire career upon, however, it’s not often you’ll catch me defending a trend (for example, as I am writing this I am wearing nine rings. Nine. Why. Why am I wearing nine rings) but the “Made-in-America” effort is one that should not only be defended, but accepted.

As twenty-something almost graduates, we’re the generation of consumers that need to adopt this movement and make it a habit. Putting it simply, buying American-made products is a really easy way to be a mouthpiece for the United States and do something good for our economy, no matter your political delegation.

So rather than buying that really hot girl a celebratory drink at Pavlov’s after we trash Vanderbilt this weekend, play hard to get and pay a little extra for a pair of Made in the USA mid-calves instead.
Go America. Go Cocks.

Photo used with permission from Tilden Brighton’s style blog To Be Bright.