Unless you live in a nudist colony, you’ll likely need clothes to make it in America. If you’ve been following along with our “Made in America” series, you’ll know that we’ve already covered American-made forms of transportation, including shoes, home decor and appliances made in the U.S.A., the all-American home, home-grown food and energy, and even American-made vices like alcohol and tobacco. We haven’t forgotten about clothing, which is one of the hardest things to find with “Made in the U.S.A.” on the tag. Chances are slim what you’re wearing now has “Made in the U.S.A.” on the tag.
Clothing keeps us warm, dry and covered, but if Americans made all the clothing purchased in the world, no one would be able to afford it. That’s why it’s so common to find clothes made in Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and, of course, China.
The American clothing market is the largest in the world, totalling $359 billion in 2016, which is why it’s so important to keep those dollars here in America. Employment has nearly doubled in apparel manufacturing, textiles and clothing since 1990, because with more people comes more clothes. But just 1.8 million Americans are employed in the fashion industry, with 79 percent of them working for apparel retailers mostly selling imported products. Just 232,000 are employed to manufacture textiles for apparel and other fashion items (purses, handbags, backpacks, etc.).
In order to change the growing trend of outsourcing fashion and clothing manufacturing, more Americans need to buy more American clothes, and there’s plenty of places to start.
American-made men’s underwear is pretty easy to find. Brad Bennett at the Well Spent blog put together a nice list of American options. Keep in mind that just because a company has an American-sounding name, like Duluth Trading Company (mostly made in Vietnam, but they do have a “USA Made” section) or American Eagle (made in China, Guatemala, India, and Vietnam, with some made in America) doesn’t mean it’s products are all-American. Do your research. The only thing that touches American skin should be American-made.
There are plenty of options for American-made women’s underwear, too, including lingerie. HerRoom and HisRoom allows you to search multiple companies’ catalogs for American-made products. For a complete list of American-made underwear companies visit here.
During the spring, winter and autumn months, there’s no more important stitch of clothing than dry socks. I don’t wear socks for most of the summer unless it rains, but when it comes to keeping my feet warm and dry, I’m a wool man. Wool is the absolute best fabric ever, but the U.S. doesn’t produce much of it. If more people bought more wool, though, maybe it would make a comeback in America.
As I stated earlier, Duluth Trading Company makes some of its products in the U.S.A., and the most common item on their “USA Made” page is socks. If there’s a place that knows cold, it’s Minnesota, but if you’re looking for the best socks on the planet, I’d suggest Darn Tough socks. I recommend them because I have a friend from Vermont, where Darn Tough socks are made, who maintains trails in Glacier National Park, and he swears by them. If there’s an environment that requires darn tough socks, it’s Vermont. It’s the seventh coldest state in America and can be one of the wettest in the spring. Plus, Darn Tough socks are guaranteed for life, so if you manage to put a hole in them, you can return them for another pair. You’ll never buy socks again.
If you’re looking for more fashionable options for men and women, Fox River is the oldest performance sock brand out there. What started as a sock company for lumberjacks 116 years ago is now an all-purpose, sock supplier. They sent out a pair of their Peak Series Lightweight Multisport ankle socks for me to try, and except for them being a little long in the sole, they very comfortable for both the office and the bicycle commute. The "helix fit" as they call it provides volumetric compression around the foot between the ankle and toes. The mesh ventilation zones allow your feet to breathe, and the EverWear Durability Shield on the back of the sock above the heel is a neat feature that should prevent holes in the area that rubs against your shoe. For women’s socks visit here, and if you’re seeking hosiery, tights or leggings, No Nonsense provides an ample supply of American-made products for women. If you’re a man in need of dress socks, look no further than Dapper Classics, which also produces American-made shirts and ties for the office.
There is a plethora of men’s pants and shirts, women’s dresses and blouses, children’s clothes and even maternity wear made in America. The easiest thing you can do to find American-made options from your favorite retailers is enter “Made in the USA” in their catalog’s search bar. Most online stores like Nordstrom, Lulu’s and Orvis, understand the importance of catering to patriotic purchasers and have a dedicated page for American-made products. If you’re into sportswear, and specifically throwback baseball uniforms and caps, Ebbets Field Flannels is one of my new favorite American stores. There you can buy jerseys you didn't know existed.
USA Love List put together a great list of American-made outerwear for women recently, and if you’re a leather man, Schott NYC has everything from jackets, belts and boots made in America. Woolrich also provides a page of outdoorsy, clothing products made in the U.S.A. If you’re more into designer trends, The Good Trade put together a list of 15 American-made clothing brands that will turn heads, and GQ has a list of American clothing brands just for men. The most complete Made in America men’s wear list is likely this one by Gear Patrol. Here’s a recent list of more than 100 brands that produce 100 percent of their clothing in America.
So now you have no reason to purchase clothing that isn’t made in America other than cost, but wages in areas where clothes are made are increasing, while American wages remain stagnant, which means American-made clothing will at least be more competitive with imported clothing in the future. So don’t be the typical cheap American when it comes to clothing. I guarantee if you buy the brands listed above, you’ll get more life out of your clothing and more satisfaction for creating American jobs, too.
Next up in our “Made in America” series we’ll look at the best brands for recreation equipment, including guns and ammo, ATVs, tents, backpacks, sleeping bags and the like.
So you’ve built the all-American home, furnished it with American-made appliances and furniture, filled the fridge with food made in the U.S.A. and use American energy sources to run your appliances, lights and heat. But America is vast, and you want to see it all.
If you tried to travel 2,680 miles in any direction in almost any country, you’d end up in an ocean. But not in America. The U.S.A. is known for its diversity, both demographically and geographically. That geographic diversity wouldn’t be possible if America wasn’t the third largest nation. That vastness requires transportation solutions in order for Americans to see their nation.
When you’re not going far, you can walk in American-made shoes. I would recommend Keen for all-purpose shoes. I’ve been wearing a pair I got at an REI garage sale for about five years. Red Wing and Wolverine make the best boots money can buy. My dad has worn Red Wing boots to work for over 40 years and has a pair of Wolverine galoshes for wet days. Schnee’s in Bozeman, Montana, makes the best hiking boots I’ve seen. There aren’t many options for sneakers made in America, but SOM Footwear is one, and some of the previously mentioned companies have expanded their catalog to include a few pairs of everyday shoes. If you prefer to bear your feet and walk like Jesus, Okabashi makes 100-percent recyclable sandals and flip-flops right here in the U.S.A.
You really can bike from one edge of America to the other. People do it every summer for about $5,000. It’s understandable if that’s not your idea of fun, but I urge every American to bike to work or the store when they can. It will save you money, and it’s great for Americans and America, especially if you do it on an American-made bicycle.
I haven’t owned a bicycle made in the U.S.A. since I was a kid because Huffy has since moved its factories to China. Even great bikes like Surly have their components made in Taiwan and are only constructed in Minnesota. But since I can’t recommend an American-made bicycle, Inside Hook has provided a recent list of the top five bicycles made in America. Firefly is the only one on the list I recognize.
I take public transportation as often as I can because it’s better for the environment and employs nearly 400,000 Americans, according to the American Public Transportation Association. Think about this: every person on a bus or train is generally one less car on the road. It’s the easiest way to decrease car traffic and emissions, so we can continue to breathe clean air.
Public transportation is also incredibly convenient. I have a bus stop just down the street from my house, and I can ride one bus all the way from the Mall of America to Target Field in less than an hour for less than $2. I can even load up my bike and ride to and from the bus. I even get to read while riding a bus or train, so I’m using that extra time more constructively. But 45 percent of people don’t have access to public transportation because it’s not available where they live, which is why we own so many automobiles. (If you’d like to remedy the lack of public transportation access in America, visit Voices for Public Transit.)
The American automobile industry is a driving force of America. The automobile industry is the seventh largest in the world according to Forbes, and half of the Dow Jones Industrial Index companies rely on automobiles to create revenue. The automobile industry contributes nearly a trillion dollars to the American economy each year and is responsible for 7.25 million American jobs, according to AutoAlliance.org. But many Americans perceive American cars to be inferior to foreign cars. They’re wrong.
I’m not one to use personal experience to make an argument often, but if you don’t think General Motors makes a quality car, say that to my face when I’m behind the wheel of my 1957 Chevy 210. Toyota exported its first car, the Toyopet Crown, to America in 1957. A CNN Money slideshow informs that “Toyota soon recognized that the Toyopet really didn't warrant being taken seriously, whatever it was called. It was underpowered, uncomfortable, lacking in even basic amenities, and it cost more than better offerings from European competitors.”
From the Crown Wikipedia page: “As a publicity stunt to demonstrate the car's reliability, Toyota staged a campaign common to American automakers: a coast-to-coast endurance run from Los Angeles to New York. The Toyopet was barely able to limp into Las Vegas before the project had to be called off.”
It doesn’t matter what decade, American automakers have made higher quality cars than their foreign competition. This list of former Motor Trend Car of the Year award winners proves it, with American automakers taking down 55 awards to the rest of the world’s nine. General Motors led the pack with 26 awards, Chrysler and Ford each scored 14, AMC added two and Tesla picked up one. Leading the rest of the world was Volkswagen with a whopping three awards, Toyota and Nissan had two, Honda and the French car company Citroen had one each. That’s right: AMC has the same number Motor Trend Car of the Year awards as Toyota and Nissan, and twice as many as Honda.
Again, if you don’t think American automakers make quality cars, consider my 2004 Ford Taurus with over 202,000 miles, no body rust, no interior damage and no major issues. I’ve replaced the starter and AC pump. That’s it. Compare that to my dad’s 2007 Mazda with 120,000 miles and body pieces falling off due to cheap, plastic clips holding it together. Consider my father’s 2005 Ford F-150 with over 180,000 miles. He just put significant money into it for the first time, replacing the front end when his four-wheel drive went out during one of the snowiest winters Eastern Montana has seen in decades.
So now that your perceived quality of American automobiles is no longer misinformed, let’s explain why it’s so important for Americans to buy American automobiles. Too many Americans think buying American-made cars doesn’t matter for America because foreign automakers are hiring Americans to construct their cars in America, too. They’re wrong.
According to Roger Simmermaker’s How Americans Can Buy American: The Power of Consumer Patriotism, “When you buy an American-made Chevy, you not only support more American workers, you also support American investors, owners, and stockholders. When you buy an American-made Toyota, you may help your Uncle Bob if he’s on Toyota’s payroll, but you’re hurting Uncle Sam since American companies pay about three times as many taxes to the U.S. Treasury as do foreign-owned companies.” That doesn’t even include the insane amount of tax breaks foreign automakers have gotten to open production facilities in the U.S.A.
From Forbes: “Alabama offered Mercedes-Benz more than $250 million worth of tax breaks, training and land, and South Carolina won BMW’s only U.S. plant with state incentives worth more than $130 million, according to a 2008 report by the University of South Carolina Moore School of Business. The gifts to Kia that helped win the plant for Georgia total more than $258 million.”
Most importantly, American automakers employ more Americans -- nearly three times more than foreign automakers as of 2012. The jobs putting the cars together aren’t the only ones that matter, though. Plenty of materials go into making a car, so the more materials used that are made in America, the more American jobs are created. Simmermaker cites a 2002 Business Week story that states “each auto-assembly created by an American company also creates 6.9 other American jobs, where each auto-assembly job created by a foreign company creates only 5.5 other American jobs.”
While there isn’t a car entirely made in America, the Tesla Model 3 is likely to become the most American car on the road, with 95 percent of its parts made in the U.S.A. You can find out how much of each 2013 car was made from materials made in the U.S.A. by visiting here. No surprise, General Motors tops the list, with Ford and Chrysler filling out the top 10. Toyota has the only foreign car in the top 10, and Chrysler is now Italian-owned.
So I hope the next time you’re buying a car, whether new or used, you buy American, because you’re supporting American jobs when you do.
If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: USA Prepares, Building America, Free Talk Live, American Survival Radio, Jim Brown’s Common Sense, Drop Your Energy Bill, Auto World, Auto World AM
Editor’s Note: This is a series of stories investigating products made in America by Americans for Americans.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly said he wants to bring back production jobs that have fled America’s borders so corporations can save money using cheaper labor overseas. Sure it would be nice to have a few more production jobs available to Americans, but frankly, everything Americans need is made right here in the USA. It’s what Americans want that’s made elsewhere.
Think about what you need. You need food, water and shelter. That’s it. You don’t need a smartphone or a computer or television, but you want them. You want the things produced overseas by children working for peanuts, like Nikes and iPhones, but you wouldn’t pay the price it would require for those products to be made in America. Imagine a pair of shoes costing as much as an iPhone, or an iPhone costing as much as a used car. It’s just not realistic. (The new iPhone retails for $250 less than what I paid for my 2004 Ford Taurus, upon which I’ve put more than 20,000 miles.)
There are plenty of things still made in America, though, and just like your local economy, buying American assures that your money stays in America. For instance, visiting a local brewery and having your growler filled is not only more environmentally friendly than buying a six-pack of bottles or a 12-pack of cans. It’s more economically friendly because that money goes to the brewer who does business in your state and not Missouri if you’re into Budweiser, Colorado if you’re into Coors, and South Africa if you’re into Miller. Americans can take the same local approach to purchasing everything they need by following this American-made guide.
Let’s start with food since we can’t live without it. While there are fewer Americans working in agriculture than ever before, the USA is producing more food than ever before. According to Netstate.com, California produces almost all of the country's almonds, apricots, dates, figs, kiwi fruit, nectarines, olives, pistachios, prunes, and walnuts. It leads in the production of avocados, grapes, lemons, melons, peaches, plums, and strawberries. Only Florida produces more oranges. The most important vegetables grown in the state are lettuce and tomatoes, and again, California leads the country in production of each. Broccoli and carrots rank second followed by asparagus, cauliflower, celery, garlic, mushrooms, onions, and peppers. Only Texas grows more cotton than California, which you’d find in just about everything you wear, but we’ll get to shelter and clothing later.
So there’s plenty of fruits and vegetables grown right here in the USA. Hell, you can see the fields of wheat in Montana, corn in Minnesota, and dairy cows in Wisconsin. And if you want meat, America’s got the best beef in the world. There’s no shortage of chickens, pigs, or fish either. The problem is how Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) has been mostly gutted by Congress. While venison was added to the list of products requiring COOL in January 2017, beef and pork were both removed in February 2016. COOL requirements for muscle cut and ground chicken, lamb, and goat, wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts and ginseng remain in effect.
The easiest way to avoid buying un-American food is to grow it yourself, of course. Raising a cow, pig or chicken might not be feasible for some, and most people living in metropolitan areas don’t have a yard yet alone a garden. There is a lot of indoor farming you can do with an LED bulb, though.
Another work-around is frequenting local, farmers’ markets. Most city websites have a schedule of farmers’ markets. If you don’t have a computer or smartphone visit your public library, buy a newspaper or listen to local radio.
Now that you know how to find food made right here in the USA, stay tuned to discover how you can build your entire home and clothe your entire body with American-made products.
If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: USA Prepares, Building America, Free Talk Live, The Easy Organic Gardener, American Survival Radio, American Family Farmer, Jim Brown’s Common Sense