“Made in America”: A New Reality?


  • Pete Bauman, Senior VP, Burlington Worldwide / ITG
  • Joann Kim, Director, Johnny’s Fashion Studio
  • Tricia Carey, Business Development Manager, Lenzing USA
  • Michael Penner, CEO, Peds Legwear
  • Moderator: Arthur Friedman, Senior Editor, Textiles and Trade, WWD 

Video Discussion Questions 

  • How does “Made in the USA” fit into US textile and apparel companies’ overall business strategy today?
  • What measures have been taken by US textile and apparel companies to bring more production back to the US? Can any measures be linked to the restructuring strategies we discussed in the class?
  • What are the significant obstacles to bringing textile and apparel manufacturing back to the US?
  • Any other exciting points/buzzwords did you learn from the panel discussion?

Author: Sheng Lu

Professor @ University of Delaware

10 thoughts on ““Made in America”: A New Reality?”

  1. How does “Made in the USA” fit into US textile and apparel companies’ overall business strategy today?

    I think to a handful of Americans, purchasing products that have tags printed with “Made in the USA” is very important. Consumers like to be patrons of companies/brands that they have a personal connection to and believe in the brands overall view. I know US textile and apparel companies work hard to please consumers and knowing that there is a desire to see the “Made in the USA”, it would be strategic for companies to do so. But it is not just about putting it on the tag; it is about creating and producing these products in the US. Citizens of the U.S. take pride in being American and seeing the “Made in the USA” is heartwarming and exciting for most.

    1. I agree. I think that while many consumers do not care about where their products come from, there are still a large amount of people who prefer to buy American made products. My Aunt, for example, makes a concerted effort to check where each product she buys is from and knows which brands produce items in America. Although these people constitute a smaller portion of the market, they still exist which means that US companies still have a chance at gaining back customers. One example of a US made brand is Darn Tough which makes outdoor activity geared socks in Vermont. My aunt is a loyal customer, and has convinced me to buy from them too. I think that although cost is the most important factor for many consumers, some are willing to spend a few extra dollars for a product that is good quality and made in the US.

    2. The nature of the fashion industry is fast pace and depends on resources and technology to function as a whole. The U.S. producing more goods with the tag “Made in the USA” would be beneficial in certain aspects, but challenging in others. A lot of Americans would be excited to purchase more merchandise that is directly from U.S. brands. Although their may be economic and social opportunities, the United States is not in any place to be manufacturing the amount of apparel items being demanded from other countries. The United States would have to make sure they are practicing sustainable methods while keeping up with the fast rate that consumers are demanding they receive the products being purchased. The U.S. would have to put a lot of finances into strengthening their textile and apparel industry to keep up with competing regions. The country does have the expenses and resources to accomplish producing more apparel goods from the United States, the question is will they follow through and take this business opportunity despite the challenges? Has the United States become comfortable being a sector for textiles only?

  2. While many Americans clearly state that they would support manufacturing within our country this is not something that comes to mind while being in the position of purchasing. Likewise, brands and businesses all have interest in bringing more opportunity to our country, however, it is a business ideal. This is not something that can be easily attained by customers nor producers. The fashion industry is ever changing, therefore needs to be fast pace. This is something that can not be achieved in the same manner as it is abroad. Likewise, the decrease in price is not a main but significant factor in this situation. Business want to turn as much of a profit as possible while consumers need the lowest prices they can get. If this was disturbed the effects would not be complimentary to anyone involved in the US market. For these reasons “Made in the USA” is something that is appealing and prideful to our nationalistic society, however, not by any means practical considering the nature of this highly competitive industry.

  3. How does “Made in the USA” fit into US textile and apparel companies’ overall business strategy today?

    According to the video, there is a slow gradual resurgence in companies coming back to the US platforms. This is because their customers are more interested in the ecological impact and the fact that buying in the US helps to lower the carbon footprint of everything they consume. The younger customers are also interested in “Made in the US” because of the quick response it provides. Americans are also becoming more anymore concerned with the fact that buying clothes from outside the US takes away jobs from fellow Americans, so “Made in America” is more appealing to them today. US textile and apparel companies should now focus on trying to move production back to America to appeal to their customers and to also follow the more sustainable and ethical movement. After learning about what actually goes on in foreign factories, I think that companies should not only bring production back to the US in the interest of improving their working conditions and treating its workers the right way, but also because their consumers will most likely lose their loyalty after getting insight into what actually goes on behind the scenes. Supporting its domestic economy also should be a priority of US textile and apparel companies today.

    1. Interesting point! But while US consumers like to see more apparel “Made in the USA”, the video was promoting the concept of “Western-hemisphere supply chain” (apparel made in Mexico & central America of USA fabrics or yarns). Do you think US consumers see the difference of the two? Also, social responsibility and ethical issues exist in the US apparel industry too. For example: http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-fi-forever-21-factory-workers/ . is it a myth or a reality that “bring production back to the US in the interest of improving their working conditions and treating its workers”?

  4. How does “Made in the USA” fit into US textile and apparel companies’ overall business strategy today?

    Listening to the panel discuss this topic, made in the USA has been a great option for certain companies. Companies try to understand how to embrace working in the U.S., but some companies cannot find the same infrastructure in the U.S. There is an increase of sourcing in America, and it is believed to continue to grow. The infrastructure exists in certain small towns, but also the younger buyer role is important. Made in the USA also offers a quick response and people are continuing to take to it. Difficulty of maintaining small product units and meeting pricing is an issue. Trying to figure out how to work with designers and meet their margins is also crucial.

  5. How does “Made in the USA” fit into US textile and apparel companies’ overall business strategy today?

    This panel has given great insight into what “Made in the USA” means and how it applies to apparel companies and their business strategy. First this panel allowed me understand how embracing this notion is very important, and that it does affect the industry. The increase of sourcing in American allows for their to be more opportunity is having that made in America tag. Thus giving the smaller businesses a chance to have a niche market in which their consumers want to buy their product because it was made here domestically. It also allows us to see that American companies should try and bring their sourcing and textile production back into the US. this also follows our discussion of nationalization that we have had in multiple classes.

  6. “Made in America” goods are gaining popularity within the United States. Whether this is because of an increasing in the ideals of home made goods, or from a transition in the supply chain of American fashion brands. While some Americans have a loyalty and support to brands that sell these goods, many are simply after the cheapest product no matter where it is made. Considering that “Made in America” products are expensive, they are not always a consumer’s first choice, or fashion brands first thought when sourcing their production. A main factor to increase fashion companies ability and want to produce these goods comes from the United States trading policies. The 2016 American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act is favorable towards US fashion and textile brands as they gain the industry advantage. This bill’s passage Beverly reduces the amount of un-domestically produced products allowed to be imported into the US. Similarly pro-americas production bills and policies will aid in fashion brands ability to chose American production facilities. While American brands and companies can currently look elsewhere for the production of their merchandise, being forced to have locally made products will prove to be economically beneficial to them. They will be able to avoid tariffs and tax imposed on overseas goods, avoid port fees and congestion, as well as travel costs.

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