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Not made in the USA: a look at the American clothing industry

Updated on November 19, 2017
erinshelby profile image

Erin Shelby knows how to get by on a tight budget. She writes about frugality and other topics.

Has the outsourcing of clothing work become as widespread as it seems? Is it a problem? Why should you buy American clothing and where can you get it? Take a look at these issues and be informed.


When was the last time you bought a piece of clothing made in the USA? The outsourcing of America’s apparel manufacturing probably isn’t something that happened overnight, but made in America clothing has become the exception rather than the norm. In some stores, it’s impossible to find an American-made garment. Here’s a comparison of some of the garments found in one popular chain store. The table shows the clothing maker and the country where a piece of its clothing was manufactured. The retailer selling these garments is known for its innovative marketing and offering stylish fashions at affordable prices. Unfortunately, it has yet to be a leader in providing American-made clothing.

Clothing Label
Country of Origin
Bangladesh, China
Denizen from Levi’s
Beyond Bare
China, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Thailand
China, Haiti, Jordan, Nicaragua, Vietnam
Gilligan O’Malley
China, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Vietnam
Converse One Star
Cambodia, China
Cambodia, China, Indonesia
Mossimo Supply Co.
China, Vietnam
Ingrid & Isabel Maternity
Liz Lange Maternity
Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Nicaragua

Why should I care?

Gone are the days when obtaining a factory job was a secure ticket to a steady paycheck. Where are these jobs? Most of them have been outsourced to the countries that you see above. Unfortunately, it seems that nothing is made in America any more. While it’s no doubt that citizens of other countries need to care for their families just as much as we do, it is clear that the purchases Americans make are providing the demand for the products manufactured overseas. While some people doubt that these manufacturing jobs will ever return to America, every purchase is a way of demonstrating your values. Will you place your confidence in your neighbors here who can produce the products you need? Or will your dollars fund another country’s economy?

Made in the USA quality

Clothing made in foreign countries often has similar common quirks when compared to clothing made in America. Foreign-made clothing often shrinks abnormally after being washed and dried for the first time. The way it is sewn together doesn’t always indicate quality – the stitches made by the sewing machine aren’t always straight. The sizing of foreign-made garments is sometimes different from American-made clothing; consumers often have to purchase a larger size than they normally would. What is promoted as winter wear to keep out the cold is sometimes very thin.

Rancourt and Company

A family business, Rancourt and Company has been operating since 1964. Making shoes for both men and women, Rancourt and Company shoes are not only American-made but made by hand. Choose from shoes that are ready to wear or purchase a trial run to ensure proper fit.

Outsourcing human safety

Another issue with buying foreign products is that of human safety. In 2013, there was more than one incident reported on U.S. television of the safety of apparel workers overseas. In Bangladesh, a tragic building collapse killed many people working in a clothing factory. Perhaps the most tragic part of this accident is that it could have been prevented. According to news reports, workers at this factory were concerned about the safety of the building – there were allegedly issues with the building’s foundation – but these concerns weren’t resolved. Sadly, people continued working in this facility and many died.

Were your jeans made in the USA?
Were your jeans made in the USA? | Source

Where can I purchase clothes and accessories made in America?

Allen Edmonds

Allen Edmonds isn’t a store for the guy looking for cheap prices. Allen Edmonds obtains materials for their shoes from all around the world but shoes are manufactured by workers in Wisconsin and Illinois. Belts, wallets, ties and apparel are also available.

All American Clothing

All American Clothing is an online retailer offering clothing for men and women. This is a great place to stop by if you’re on a budget and looking for any aspect of your wardrobe to supplement or replace with an American-made item. All American Clothing has belts, socks, hats, boxers, jeans, shorts, tank tops and dresses. What’s missing? Kids’ items.

King Louie is a maker of American-made apparel.
King Louie is a maker of American-made apparel. | Source

All USA Clothing

All USA Clothing is another online retailer. It’s a good one-stop shop for the whole family providing clothing for children, women and men. All USA features eco-hybrid and organic clothing as well as custom embroidery, hunting apparel and wholesale discount pricing.

Fox River Mills

Fox River Mills is a Wisconsin-based company in business since 1900. Specializing in socks, gloves and mittens, Fox River Mills products are sold by brick-and-mortar retailers and online. Use the website’s store locator to find a shop near you that sells Fox River Mills products.

King Louie

In business since 1937, King Louie is the leader of Union Made in the USA clothing. Download a copy of their catalog online. King Louie specializes in t-shirts, fleece jackets, polo shirts, men’s hoodies and jackets, all made in America.

Do you try to buy American-made products?

See results

Lands’ End Durable Goods

Lands’ End Durable Goods is a subset of the bigger Lands’ End company, which is not dedicated to making all of its merchandise in America. The Durable Goods line offers a few items for those seeking goods made in America: casual sweatshirts and t-shirts in plain colors. The sweatshirts are said to be a thinner material, not for the most frigid of days. Fashion-minded men may enjoy this collection.

© 2013 erinshelby


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      8 months ago

      Thanks for highlighting the safety issues overseas apparel workers endure.


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