It's the end of July and we took a stroll around our local mall to spot some of the early Fall clothes. We get kinda tired of our Summer gear and look forward to this time of year as the newest stuff starts to show up in stores. And since we don't sell clothes here at The Lodge, we decided to go shopping.
Instead of finding cool Fall stuff, we were highly distracted by something else. Something was missing- America. During our trip, we tried to find Men's apparel and accessories that were Made in USA and were reminded of the fading of American manufacturing. Here's what we found-
Macy's- the American department store, really the only one left. I remember some noise about "American Icons" from them this Summer, so I was pretty sure we'd find some American product. The only Made in USA products were some basic socks and fragrance. That's it. Upon asking, the salesmen were unsure, saying they haven't carried American goods "in years" and thought the American Icons thing was about designers here in America. Disappointment.
Across the Mall at JC Penneys, maybe we'd find better luck. JCP has tried to become "America's favorite store" according to their mantra over the last year. I guess it has also tried to become distinctly un-American, as nothing in Men's was made here, except some colognes and 4 pairs of boot socks from Wolverine.
Maybe in the Younger Men's stores, we'll have better luck. American Eagle. Surely, they must have something. There's America right there in the name. I guess it's really about the Eagle, since all of their wares have flown off to be made elsewhere. They do claim to be "designed in New York" but nothing actually made here.
How about that quintessentially American (but boring) brand The Gap. The staff wasn't sure if they had anything. They're still trying to be American, highlighting that their goods are "designed in America" on the label. I found, in addition to the various assortment of Made in USA colognes, 3 t-shirts from a different brand that were Made in Los Angeles, according to the label. Ok, maybe there's some hope. Wait, what's this? An American flag tee, must be made here. Nope. Made in Vietnam. How can one possibly make something with an American flag on it overseas, in Vietnam? It's slightly deceptive, and highly ironic.
Abercombie & Fitch. A brand that was born in NYC in the late 1800s and famous for outfitting American presidents before becoming the brand that teenagers seem to not like anymore. They must have something American. Says New York right there on the label. Don't hold your breath (actually you have to with all of the cologne going around in there). The fierce scent they spray is the only Men's thing Made in USA, in addition to 4 t-shirts for Women. The search goes on.
Pacific Sunwear. California company, right? All those surf brands based there must make something in America. Bingo. I found a good assortment of t-shirts and some accessories that were Made in USA. Not a ton, but enough to show that it must be important to the folks at PacSun.
What about that other surf-inspired company, Hollister. They say they've got genuine So-Cal clothes right there at the shop. Well, only if So-Cal is some place in Indonesia and Vietnam, where everything seems to be made. Only their little bottles of liquid stuffs are Made in USA.
Express Men's. Same story, only their odd scents made here. Otherwise nothing. They're Expressing their lack of support for American craftsmanship.
I'm starting to get discouraged. Disappointed. Then I remember J Crew and their "In Good Company" campaigns and partnerships with great American brands. Their New York stores are full of Made in USA, surely they've thought about their customers out here in the American countryside. The answer- a little bit. Of the broad range of "lifestyle" clothes they have for cool guys, only 2 leather belts and some neckties were made by some American craftsmen. Otherwise, nada. But I was directed to the website of course. So we'd say, their not living up to the hype.
What about Coach? It says New York right there in the shop and was famously started as a leather company for men, using baseball glove leather. They're mostly a Women's place now, but they've got good Men's stuff. Must be something American in there. Well, the only Made in USA you're getting from them is vintage, because everything is now from somewhere else.
Well, a very sad day at the mall folks. We'd say less than 1% of the Men's stuff we checked out was made here. American retailers have made it very hard for guys to find cool, stylish, and affordable goods that are Made in USA. We're here to try to change that at The Lodge. Join our movement and support American craftsmen.