Reader Jesse recently wrote:
“Hey man, I was wondering if you had any recommendations for US-made workout gear. I’m about to launch into my yearly spring scramble to get in shape for summer, and would like to do so without wearing anything made in a sweatshop.”
Jesse, thanks for getting in touch. As it turns out, there’s actually a surprisingly large number of active apparel co’s that manufacture their goods in the US. Some of my personal favorites are below.
For super-basic (and super affordable) sweatpants, you can’t do much better than Swami Sportswear. The cuts aren’t flattering, the styling isn’t cool, and the inside of the fabric pills like a mother during the first few wears. But, for the price (1/3 the cost of American Apparel) they’re damn hard to beat. Plus, they’re actually pretty well made, and, I can tell you from personal experience, so decadently soft you’ll actually have to fight the urge to pull a Costanza.
As for shorts, I’m a big fan of California’s Race Ready. They come in four lengths (ranging from ultra short to Bermuda length), lots of colors, and with optional pockets. I don’t love the material they’re made of (“MicroMove® CoolMax®” – whatever the hell that is), but for under $40.00 I’m not gonna complain. Also, I like that they’re made by runners for runners, so you can trust that the fit / details have been carefully considered.
Like the Swami sweatpants, the hoodies from Royal Apparel aren’t particularly stylish either. But, they’re 100% organic cotton, a nice medium weight (7.2 oz. to be exact), made in the USA, and super inexpensive. So, for me, they’re the perfect work out top (I mean, you’re wearing ‘em to work out, not to work). Full-zip and raglan crewneck models are are also available.
Campbellsville Apparel Co.
I’ve already written about Anvil’s Organic T-Shirts, which would be fine for working-out in. However, if you don’t want to soil your “dress” tees, then I’d recommend the 100% cotton undershirts from Campbellsville Apparel Co. These are actually the same t-shirts that are supplied to the US-military. They come in two colors (White and Sand), are made in Kentucky, and they’re 3 for $10. Can’t beat that.
If you want to kick it up a notch in terms of looks and performance, then I’d say go with Ibex. They’re a great company and their product is top-effing-notch (even though not all of it is made in the USA). I’ve been working out in the same Shak Jersey for almost two years now, and it still looks new (seriously). The prices are on the higher end, but between the quality, the fit and the story behind the goods, you’re getting what you pay for. I also highly recommend their base layers for winter.
As far as American-made footwear goes, you’ve pretty much got one option: New Balance. Fortunately, the company makes a damn solid sneaker. I have a pair of the 993s (pictured) which I picked up last year on sale, and have been completely happy with them. However, if you want something a little more subdued, you can now design your own custom 574s, which are made in Maine and shipped right to your door. Not too shabby.
Quick side note: I don’t like exercising in synthetics, nor do I really go for the tech looking stuff, so I didn’t include any of that on this list. If, however, those things are more your style, I’d recommend checking out Beyond Clothing, Sub 4, and SOARK. All three brands offer a wide variety of US-made performance gear at very reasonable prices.
Got a question you want answered? Send an email to brad[at]well-spent[dot]com.