Where to Find Teen Clothing Made in USA
Look Online For Affordable Junior Clothes Made in the USA
If you buy apparel for a teenage girl, you know that trying to find junior clothes especially affordable clothes, made in the USA is difficult, to say the least. Usually the affordable clothing in the conveniently-located chain stores and big department stores is made somewhere else besides the U.S.
I pay close attention to brands made in the U.S. when I shop in brick and mortar stores and online. I have two teenaged daughters, I have looked at a lot of junior clothes, and since I'm a rabid made in the USA supporter (Yes, my daughters run for cover when I complain to the clerk about the lack of made in the USA clothes in the store.) I keep mental notes of who carries what. For example, for a while I was pretty high on the Full Tilt brand at Tilly's, but when researching this article I found that a lot more of their clothes are now made outside of the states.
Since I also work full-time I don't have much time to shop around, so a lot of my shopping is done online. I asked my daughters to give me their favorite sites and I also looked around at online stores. I found six online stores – five of which have brick and mortar locations, too – that carry at least a decent selection of junior apparel your daughter might approve of, with prices that you might approve of, too. If you can afford to spend a little more freely, your options for made in the USA clothes greatly expands. For instance, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Nordstrom's online site is not only search-able for items made in the USA, it also has a pretty big selection of domestically-made junior clothes.
The Big Retailers Are (Mostly) Not Where the Action Is
Notice that I didn't say “cheap clothes,” I said “affordable clothes.” You can definitely find cheaper clothes in the national chains, like Walmart, Target, Sears and J.C. Penney's, but made in the USA items are pretty rare in those places. I know there are plenty of other large discounters, but there are so many regional stores that I just can't search and list them all. Instead, I searched the web sites of those four nationwide low-cost department stores, with the following results:
JC Penney – I don't know if they have any junior clothes made in the USA because searches on “made in USA” returned one t-shirt that was imported and “domestic” returned nothing. “USA” returned various items with the USA flag on them; the ones that I checked were all imported. I think it's safe to say that if JC Penney has junior girls' clothes made in the USA, they're impossible to find.
Sears – Like JC Penney, a search on the term “made in USA” returned one junior clothing listing – an outfit named “Made in the Shade.” The search box didn't recognize “domestic.” A search on “USA” returned a happily large number of items in tools, gardening and other departments, but no clothing.
Target – Yup, same as above. No clothes returned for “made in USA” or “domestic.” A plain “USA” search returned an assortment of things but since the one Men's shirt I checked was listed as “imported,” the search term “USA” is pretty meaningless on Target's website.
Walmart – At least Walmart has something. When they announced their “Made in the USA” program I was pretty stoked, but so far there's not a lot of apparel. They do carry lots of USA-made Fruit of the Loom socks and a selection of denim jeans for men, but I think that's the extent of their apparel made in the USA. I try to support Walmart's Made in the USA program in the hope that they don't ditch it when no one is looking, so the next time I'm in there grocery shopping I'll probably mosey over to hosiery for some back-to-school socks for my girls.
Six Online Sources of Junior Clothes Made in the USA
In alphabetical order, here are my six online sources for mostly reasonably-priced junior girls clothing.
American Apparel There’s good and bad with American Apparel – they’re first in my list simply because I went in alphabetical order. On the good side, you know that anything you buy will be made in the USA, so there's no need to hunt and peck for the domestic stuff. They're an American manufacturer; their clothes are made in their manufacturing plants in the Los Angeles area. Their sale prices bring their clothes down into the “affordable” range, but their regular prices would be hard on a tight budget. I found sale prices of around $10 and up for plain shirts, tanks and tees, and around $20 and up for lighter weight sweaters. Sale leggings started at $10 as well.
The down side of this line is its definitely edgy look that you have to be okay with your daughter wearing. If you’re okay with their prices and their look, American Apparel is the hands-down winner as a source for made in the USA clothing. They have both an online presence and 250 brick and mortar stores worldwide.
dELia's This online junior apparel store is an excellent source for cute junior clothes made in the USA. Use the search term “USA” to find items made domestically. My search turned up 368 items, including tops and tees, leggings, dresses and skirts. One note: Many of my search results said “USA/imported.” Just how much of those items are imported versus made domestically I cannot say. Overall, this online store has pretty good prices for cute clothes made in the USA, although you can likely get something cheaper if you don't care where they're made. In my search results prices ranged from clearance prices of $12 and up for tops and tees, to $25 for skirts and pants and $30 and up for dresses.
G-Stage Well, their search function leaves a lot to be desired, but I included this online store because I've had good experiences in their brick and mortar stores. This retailer has something like 20 stores in the greater Los Angeles store, and we happen to have one close to us. I never expected to find clothes tagged made in the U.S., but they actually have a decent selection of domestic clothes, mostly tops and leggings, in their stores. Mind you, it could be better, but their prices are good and they enough that I put them on my list. Major drawback: When I tried to search for made in USA, or USA, or domestic, nothing turns up. However, I hunted through their listings and found enough domestic clothes that I kept them on the list. I emailed their customer service about their search function, so when I hear back I'll update this story. If you're willing to check each item, you may find some of them are domestic.
LuLu's Okay, my search for made in the USA clothes on this site was rather confusing, but I included it because it does have a lot of domestic clothes. One of my daughters pointed out to me that LuLu's carries a lot of Lush brand clothing, at least some of which is made in the USA, so I looked around on their site. LuLu's has cute clothes that are trendy, but they aren't the most affordable of my choices, so you want to watch for sales. I searched on “Made With Love in the U.S.A.” and the search returned hundreds of items, but it seems that only the clothes in the search results were actually made in the U.S. My search also returned shoes, jewelry, make-up and purses, but all of the ones I checked were labeled as imported. Keep your search sorted in order of relevancy, it helps. In terms of price and search-ability, LuLu's isn't my first choice, but you can find domestic clothes relatively easily with them.
Nordstrom This was a pleasant surprise for me. Nordstrom isn't always the cheapest for us middle class folk just trying to hang on to middle class status, but they had some decent sale prices, like $9.00 for basic tank tops by BP and lots of shirts for under $20. Non-sale prices were up to $48 for better shirts. The selection of tops and dresses made in the USA is best. A few pants and shorts turned up in my search. Use the search terms “made in USA.” Another plus, if you grab some clothes in a sale: You can rely on their clothes being cute and trendy and probably of better quality for the price.
Overstock.com Okay, this web site is going to be hit or miss depending on what they have at any given time. At the time of my search a few days before this was published, Overstock.com had a decent selection of clothes made in the USA. Searching on “made in USA” returned 218 junior girls clothing items, mostly tops, with some skirts, dresses and palazzo pants mixed in. Prices started at $11 for a top and went up to $41 for a dress.
Last but not least, if this next retailer ever creates an online store, it’s definitely worth checking out. Right now, Fashion Q only has brick and mortar stores in 50 locations in southern California and Arizona, but they carry a large assortment of junior clothes made in the USA in their stores. I stumbled across them recently while doing back to school shopping at a local outlet mall.
Their prices for junior tops and dresses are very reasonable at about $10 to $15. Dresses seemed to run about $20 to $25. We didn’t shop their jeans or shorts, so I can’t comment on those but I would expect similar prices. I was skeptical that we’d find anything made in the USA in the store when we walked in, but shockingly enough, about 75 percent of what we looked at in the store was tagged as being made in the USA. If they ever go online, it will be big addition to the made in USA apparel category. They do have a web site but there is no online store. I only hope that they, and all of the vendors listed here, keep acquiring their inventory from domestic apparel makers.
As always, if you don't find what you're looking for on the sites I have listed, there are plenty of other sites that list domestic sources for all kinds of goods. My favorite is called “still made in the USA,” which I have absolutely nothing to do with, but which is my go-to site when I'm looking for something domestically-made.
So there you have it, my quick September 2014 survey of affordable online junior girls apparel made in the USA. If you have a favorite online store, or shop my picks and find them too lacking, please comment below. I’ll keep on looking.