Fashion Insiders Weigh in on Trump’s ‘Buy American’ Order

When is a Presidential Seal of Approval not a good thing? Well, currently, when it’s applied to steaks. And colleges. And restaurant cleanliness (yikes). And it’s especially toxic, it seems, when it’s applied to the small-but-dedicated group of brands still manufacturing apparel in the USA.

According to a recent New York Times story, Trump’s (mis-)appropriation of the Made in USA movement — including his “Buy American, Hire American” executive order — has put many brands who are doing just that on edge.

As the article explains, “Mr. Trump staked claim to an issue that has become a pet cause for… the urban beards-and-selvage-jeans set who transformed the “Made in U.S.A.” clothing label into a men’s wear status symbol… In any other year, having the president as an ally might be considered a coup. With this president? Well, for brands that have staked their identity on “Made in U.S.A.” chic, it is complicated.”

A number of those brands were interviewed for the article (as was our intrepid editor), and all provide insight into what it’s like to make in the USA, when you’re not trying to make Make America Great Again. Enlightening take-aways abound, one of the more interesting of which comes from Buck Mason co-founder, Erik Schnakenberg, who’s quoted as saying, “American exceptionalism is dead when it comes to apparel manufacturing… If we want to make great things here, we need to partner with the best, whether they’re down the street or across the pond.”

You can read the whole article, and we highly recommend that you do, at The New York Times.

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  • CDB

    I came here to your blog because I saw your editor quoted in this article and as a small US maker I completely agree. I make and sell high end custom leather pieces – pieces that are made to last (out of leather from Europe, silks from Korea, hardware from Italy and Switzerland etc.) and be worn by our customers wear for years and years. Not cheap, and Not gonna wind up in a landfill in 6 months.

    • First Name

      Shouldn’t the real discussion be about embracing American ingenuity and opportunity? I am working on developing apparel automation machinery. The goal is with the adoption of this technology, there could be a renaissance for the US apparel manufacturing industry by on-shoring production and domestic job creation.

      http://www.formafit.com website describing the process.

  • Nathan Scripps

    I think the business model of fashion is broken, and it has been best exploited by fast fashion brands that leverage global supply chain cost savings to offset spendy marketing campaigns to mask poor product practices… basically, “look at these pretty people and low prices, don’t worry about where it’s from or who made it.”

    Buying American should be important, should be price- competitive, and should carry a level of quality that makes both the buyer and maker proud. That is why Tailored Forward was built as a hobby-business… we intend to keep day jobs because our high cost of goods and low prices to compete with fast fashion leave very little room to do more than cover our nominal overhead.

    The game is rigged when fast fashion can have 100x the retail footprint and 1000x the marketing budget all while delivering a super trendy garment for 1/2 the price.