I know I do a lot of talking about buying USA. Actually, I should be more global in my language and say it’s time to support local business and makers where ever you happen to be located. From talking to friends in Britain I know that their textile and clothing industry is in the same sad shape as ours here in the US. I’m sure it is the same in many other places.
I really do practice what I preach. This summer I’ve taken a very long, critical look at the contents of my closet. I’m happy to report that of the 27 countries represented on my labels, there were far more items made in the USA than any other country. There are three reasons for this. First, I have been seriously trying to search out items made here in the States. Second, for years I’ve been buying my tee shirts from Fresh Produce, a USA maker. And third, most of my vintage items were made in the USA.
Besides looking at where, I’ve also been looking at what. I’ve been retired six years and still was holding onto some of my professional wardrobe, things I’d not worn in , you guessed it, six years. So I had a massive, long over-due closet cleanout and the animal rescue thrifts got some very nice things to resell. But I not only donated most of my “school clothes,” I also weeded out things based on quality, or rather, lack of it. I’m proud to announce that my closet is a fast-fashion free zone.
Cleaning the closet also helped me pin-point some gaps in my wardrobe, and that was nice, because one does not live by giving away alone. I made a very short list of things that I really did need, and made a few promises – to buy only from small companies, preferably USA makers, and to buy the best quality I could afford.
A lot has been written, by me and many others, over the past few years about how we have come to expect clothes to be cheap. It’s really pretty amazing that I can go into a store and buy a shirt and pay the same I did for a similar one 30 years ago. Unfortunately these cheap clothes have come at a price: jobs moved to factories overseas where people are not paid a decent living wage and factories in countries where there are no environmental or worker safety controls.
I’m just egotistical enough to believe that I can make a difference by choosing wisely and supporting businesses that have managed to survive in the USA. There have been some positive signs lately, as the latest employment numbers show that jobs in clothing manufacturing in the USA have actually grown.
But back to shopping. One thing I really needed was a belt to wear with shorts and a few summer dresses. My first thought was “nautical” as I love braided rope belts and I’ve really been into red, white and blue lately. I first looked at thrifts, because anyone who has ever looked at belts in a thrift store knows, there are always rope belts to be found. I found – and rejected – plenty, as the quality was pretty dismal.
Then I stumbled on Kiel James Patrick, through Twitter, I think. I loved what I saw, and what I read, with the materials being sourced locally and the belts made in Rhode Island. The price was a lot more that I would normally have paid for a belt, but the truth is how often does one buy a rope belt? The answer is, you buy a cheap one every year or so, but a quality crafted one will last for decades. So, reminding myself of my promises, I ordered the Briggs’s Capeside Docks belt. I followed the sizing instructions and hoped for the best.
When the packaged arrived, it was like getting a present from a friend. Seriously, the packaging is some of the best I’ve ever seen, with a box that is a keeper. And note how they tied the belt with rope to keep it neat during shipping. The size was perfect, and I was really happy that I’d found this small company.
They have recently started a line of ties, and are having a contest for a free tie and bowtie. Good luck!