‘American Made’ T-shirts just had the best year ever

'American Made' T-shirts just had the best year ever

When Bayard Winthrop, chief executive of retailer American Giant, ordered the batch of shirts his company will advertise for the Fourth of July, he didn’t think much of it. The retailer, which has been producing its apparel only in factories in the United States for more than a decade, has always relied on the “Made in America” ​​pitch for Independence Day.

This year’s batch of crew neck T-shirts are suitably available in red, white or blue, with little embellishment other than getting straight to the point: letters that read “American Made.” Each costs $60. And they sold out on the very first day. He then ordered a second set, which quickly sold out. The company is struggling to secure its fourth order.

For the American giant, this year is shaping up to be the most exciting Fourth of July ever.

The company has been using its “Made in America” ​​status to advertise to consumers since its founding in 2012. But, Mr. Winthrop said, it is now reaching customers at a time when there is talk of global supply chain, re-shoring, trade. Deal loopholes and sustainability in fashion have extended well beyond corporate board rooms and policy circles in Washington.

Sixty-five percent of American adults said they intentionally purchased “Made in America” ​​products in the past year, according to Morning Consult. survey Released last month. that’s about the same rate of American adults who said they had intentions Last year.

American Giant’s customer service representatives, Mr. Winthrop said, have been receiving “emotional” emails from shoppers, saying it is “refreshing” to see a retailer “moving” to make items in the United States.

“I really feel like there’s an awakening happening right now,” he said. “Consumers are instinctively understanding the background of this conversation.”

Before Independence Day in the United States, stores stack their shelves and fill their websites with T-shirts and swimsuits with American flag prints or slogans such as “Party in the USA”. one-third of Americans say they Plan to buy patriotic fare for this year’s Fourth of July, according to the National Retail Federation, a trade association.

The reality is that the garments are made abroad and imported. While there are retailers that have favored more home production in recent years, the Fourth of July causes special tension because the items that companies are pushing are simply patriotic in theme.

Some competitors, who make their costumes stateside, are deliberately hinting at segregation.

Kristen Fanarkis, founder of Los Angeles-based fashion brand Senza Tempo and advocate for locally made apparel, said, “If you’re pandering to America to sell items that aren’t American-made, I find it disingenuous. “

“I think one of the biggest ironies about the apparel industry is that there is such a stark difference between what the industry says and what it does,” Mr. Winthrop said.

For example, Old Navy has been selling flag T-shirts for the Fourth of July since the company started in 1994. Still, the company currently has all 25 flag tops and baby onesie Shown are listed as imported on its website. A search for “Americana” and “Fourth of July” at Walmart and Target turns up T-shirts and shorts that are listed as imported. (Some apparel is listed as both manufactured in the United States and imported.)

Since the 1990s, production of apparel sold by major American retailers has largely shifted overseas, especially to China, adding to the tensions between the United States and China in the equation of those companies.

The pandemic also put pressure on global supply chains, disrupting the credibility of imports. In some cases, retailers are moving production closer to the United States or purchasing a wider portion of goods sold domestically.

In the past month, lawmakers in Washington have introduced a series of bills to close a shipping channel that allows companies such as established fast-fashion retailers Shein and Teemu to benefit from a trade rule in China. , which allows them. Skip paying duty at US Customs and Border Protection. Lawmakers argue that this would provide a level playing field for US-based retailers.

The Fourth of July is one of Mr. Winthrop’s favorite holidays, but this year the sales season has been so busy that he almost forgot to get one of his company’s “American Made” T-shirts.

“I think I’ve got one in a retail store being shipped to me, but I’m not sure,” Mr. Winthrop said. “It’s so bullshit.”

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