The Textile and Wool Act by the Federal Trade Commission requires that garments have labels specifying where they are made. It’s the reason why most clothing sold in America has a subtle label marking its country of origin. It also affects requirements for reporting the make and ingredients in a garment.
This helps keep garment manufacturers honest and transparent about their production methods. Many nations have stereotypes surrounding production methods and the resulting quality of goods. In many cases, these stereotypes come about because of very real labor laws.
When you invest in t-shirts and other clothing made in the USA, you invest in quality. The reasons to buy clothing from the USA go beyond just patriotism for US citizens. A variety of factors mean that American-made clothing is high-quality and built to last.
Below, we’ll highlight a select sample of reasons to buy American clothing, whether it’s from NYC, Portland, or anywhere in between.
1: Support America’s Fashion Contributions
America has long been a major fashion hub. New York areas like Brooklyn and California, cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles provide some of the most crucial American giants in the nation’s fashion industry.
These cities were instrumental in the rise of skater and surf fashion in both swimwear and stylized designer apparel. Meanwhile, unique trends have arisen from locales in Massachusetts (preppy New England aesthetic) and Tennessee (Nashville-style Western wear).
Introduction of Sportswear
Perhaps, the single greatest and most pervasive American contribution to fashion has to be sportswear. In World War II, women’s clothing became more comfortable than anything previously designed. These were clothing items that were practical and designed for daily activities around the factory and home.
The notion of everyday casual apparel branched off in several directions, giving us activewear and workwear alike. It also led to loungewear's evolution from purely casual to runway-ready. The American desire for new textiles also gave us some of the most important synthetic fabrics on the market. These textile alternatives are heavily featured in leggings, tees, and swimwear.
When you buy American-made clothing, you honor a rich fashion legacy and help fuel the future of fashion. Though old synthetic fabrics were remarkable for their affordability and strength, they left much to be desired. The process created, and for many companies still creates, an undue amount of environmental waste.
Paskho is one American company seeking to change that. Our synthetic fabrics are more than our predecessors. We use ethically made bluesign® fabric. The result is less water wasted, less energy used, and over 900 toxic chemicals avoided. Purchasing American-made clothing fuels this and other markers of growth in the industry.
2: Strong Labor Laws Demand Excellence
The strength and ethics of a national enterprise hinges on its labor laws. Many fast fashion brands outsource their production to nations whose people suffer at the hands of weak government protections. They use existing injustice to justify their actions as if the workers should be grateful for anything. They do this as if an employer's only responsibility is to give someone a paycheck.
Sadly, this isn’t a problem exclusive to foreign production. Several United States-based companies skirt federal laws regarding production, becoming domestic sweatshops. While the US Department of Labor attempts to find these businesses and shut them down, many still operate.
With that in mind, how is a shopper supposed to know if the “Made In America” label actually equates to fair labor practices? Look for brands that are members of the Fair Labor Association®. The FLA® provides training and resources so that member companies can meet research-based guidelines for standards and accountability measures.
3: American Cottons are Better
America isn’t just a noted contributor to the fashion industry. It is also a noted contributor to the textile industry at large. Above, we stated its role in the production of many synthetic textiles. However, the US is also a significant contributor to the international cotton trade.
Cotton is one of the most important fibers, found in everything from clothing to home goods. Sweatshirts, sweaters, and outerwear use the material for its lush comfort and ease of manufacturing. Pima cotton, unique to the US, is one of the most highly prized types of cottons for its longevity and softness.
The US is the largest exporter of cotton and the third largest producer of cotton overall. Despite this, it only produces 2.8% of organic cotton.
Cotton uses a notoriously high amount of water in its production process and can leave soil depleted. Unsustainable farming practices are an agricultural issue at large and are not just restricted to the cotton industry.
What Is Organic Cotton?
Organic cotton is grown without synthetic toxins and pesticides and uses low-impact harvesting methods. The result is that soil is replenished rather than degraded. It helps keep farmland fertile and encourages natural biodiversity.
Two farming cooperatives (the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative (TOCMC) and the ProCot Cooperative program) produce the majority of U.S. organic cotton. Their customers in the fashion industry form two groups of buyers: Entrepreneurs who want more ethical textiles and businesses responding to consumer demand for ethical, organic textiles.
The best way to support ethical farming is to buy from companies that use organic cotton. That way, even companies and farms without an organic mission will need to listen to the call for sustainability.
4: Your Money Supports Your Local Community
The top five states for clothing manufacturing are California, New York, North Carolina, Minnesota, and New Jersey. The manufacturing industry is widespread, including states from every major region of the country. When you buy USA clothing, you support these industries and their workers.
There’s nothing wrong with international commerce. This sort of trade and cultural diffusion is part of what has made the US a culturally complex nation. However, buying American clothing specifically supports local communities that design and manufacture them.
For many designers, bringing manufacturing stateside is in part due to a desire to bring jobs locally. Buying from these brands helps fulfill that mission.
5: Reduces Deficits
This next reason is a pragmatic one that lacks the moral purity of ethics — but is still essential. When you buy from an American company, the money you spend is taxed. In addition, the money they and their employees make is taxed. This reduces the deficit and can strengthen the position of the country globally.
6: Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Sustainability is a concern for many American clothing companies. Even before any other measures towards this mission are made, simply being USA-made aids sustainability efforts. When you buy domestically, it reduces your carbon footprint.
In any internationally made clothing, there is a massive amount of shipping that occurs. For American clothing, that shipping is all domestic. Men’s clothing and women’s clothing travels thousands of miles fewer to reach your home.
Sustainability is one of Paskho’s core tenants. We believe that making better clothing doesn’t just come down to better textiles and designs. Our apparel is firmly planted in the world of travel clothing, meant for explorers and people who want on-the-go comfort. Promoting this connection with the world at large wouldn't make sense without trying to protect it.
7: Protect Jobs
Many towns and cities are defined by the industries that surround them. For the coastal US, this means fishing, and for rural areas, farming. The trouble with factories is that they can, conceivably, be built in most places. This means for bootmakers, seamstresses, and textile manufacturers, cost-cutting measures by big businesses can mean lost livelihoods.
Voting with your wallets at checkout shows companies that the price isn’t what matters most to you. By buying American-made, you are making a value statement that places the worker and the process first. This protects both local jobs as well as the quality of the end product.
The Benefit of Buying From Paskho
Paskho invests in American-made clothing and, by association, America itself.
We believe in bringing jobs to the places and people that need them most. This includes rural areas of the South, as well as Indian Reservations. Both of these areas suffer from elevated levels of generational poverty, in part due to the availability of jobs. By centering our manufacturing here, we can do better for the industry on both consumers and producers.
We are dedicated to using fewer toxins in our textiles and using organic and vegan materials wherever possible. This protects the sanctity of our environment and changes popular notions of what fashion can be.
Paskho is about being better than we were the day before. The art of travel that inspired our clothing relies on constant growth and adjustment to new stimuli. The same holds true for business, fashion, art, and life.