There’s nothing better than ordering something online and being pleasantly surprised by the quality, is there? So often we find ourselves in the opposite situation.
Lucky for me, buying mostly made in USA, my latest purchases have all been grand. That Tradlands’ flannel this winter, all the US-made cloth diapers for baby, and now, a green, cotton tee from American Giant.
I got this t-shirt on a bit of impulse, adding it to the cart as my husband was ordering two more of American Giant’s 100% cotton “fleece” workman’s jackets ($89). He had one and wanted another two (in other colors) simply because they fit great, work great, and look great. Though they call it fleece, which traditionally is made of polyester, these are made with a long fiber cotton that holds up during the yarning and knitting process with minimal breakage and produces a heavyweight, durable fabric. (And no plastic microfibers to worry about like with plastic fleece!)
My Premium Crew T is made from 100% slub cotton, sourced in the USA. “Slub” was originally considered a defect, caused by knotting in the yarn during the knitting process resulting in a uniquely textured look and feel. Slubs tend to be flimsy and transparent but the fabric used here is thicker than regular slub and not see-thru at all (yay!). At the same time it allows the shirt to actually be quite form fitted. I love it. It’s well made.
There’s also a surprise seam on the back that adds a bit of interest.
I envision wearing this tee with my beige blazer, black skinnies, Oka-B black flats and a necklace when I head back to work. For now, I am wearing it casually, out and about with baby. I wore it to the Overland Expo in Flagstaff a couple of weekends ago, and got some cute pictures of it.
Yes, I am holding an unsustainable one-time-use Sprite bottle (thirsty!), but I’m making up for it with my all US-made clothes and baby’s fashion is all second-hand. We did recycle that bottle at least! ;)
This comfy classic sells for $36.50 at AmericanGiant.com and they’ve got free returns! (I’m wearing a size S, I’m 5′ 8.5″, 140 lbs.)
Now, I have a pretty good idea of where, how and by what kind of employee my (recently bought) clothes were made. I know this because I read tags like a maniac and spend the money necessary to only add small batch, made in USA fashion and Fair Trade styles to my closet. Not exactly news to anyone perhaps.
What might come as news to some, is that 80% of the world’s garment workers are women. This means that the majority of people who died or were injured in the factory collapse were women. Underpaid, overworked women, without benefits or sufficient needs to take care of their families. See, fast fashion is indeed a women’s issue.
Yes, because of that 80% statistic, but also because women in general tend to shop a lot more than men do. H&M, Zara, Gap, Banana, Macy’s, Michael Kors, Coach, Fossil and all stores like them, appeal mostly to women. The majority of fashion bloggers are women too. “Style of the week here we come!”
Many privileged women in the west go on marches, speak up for equality and some wear pussy hats. And that’s great, since, frankly, women still don’t have what men have. But what the privileged woman often forget is that her clothes were made by a woman across the ocean who can never take the time off to worry about knitting a pussy hat.
Marching for equality in an Old Navy top anyone?
Women’s rights are human rights, yes. It shouldn’t be a trendy (all of a sudden!) issue because massive amounts of (privileged) dimwits voted for an orange man (who says women have the “potential” to do great things according to his daughter) but a world issue, no matter who is president. What women do here, will always affect a woman there.
Thus, if you consider yourself a feminist, you cannot wear fast fashion.
When you shop fair, on the other hand, you are taking a stand and making an impact, demanding fair treatment of all the sisters (and brothers!) you’ll never know.
Take the pledge and ask “who made this garment?” next time you’re shopping. Only buy if and when you like the answer.
For anyone starting out on a Made in USA shopping journey, finding places to shop and brands to trust can be overwhelming. I know when I first started out I felt quite discouraged for a while, as it was difficult to find American-made clothes.
A few years later, and a gazillion online shops later, I know where to go for my next “Made in USA fix”. Mrs. American Made, a style blog, has guided me to many brands, so has random Instagram browsing. The question still remains though, what are some physical stores where we can find locally made clothes, shoes and décor?
Online shopping is great for supporting small businesses and of course very convenient, but sometimes it’s nice to shop down the street, isn’t it?
If you are lucky enough to live in a place that promotes local, like Boulder, CO or Asheville, NC, you’ll have access to small boutiques, fair-trade markets, apothecaries, vintage shops or brand stores like PrAna and Patagonia and you’re off to a good start. (NYC residents probably don’t need this list either!) However, many of us reside in more of a “big-box retailer” region so I’m sharing my favorite stores with that in mind! Anyone can succeed and master American-made shopping (even in the suburbs ;))!
1. The BEST store for Ethical Fashion and all around browsing: REI
Yes, the camping and outdoors giant is our favorite place to go browse and try on new clothes! REI carries brands like United by Blue, PrAna, Toad & Co and many more small batch, fair-trade, natural fiber options. They’ve also got a massive selection of great quality, made in USA socks, from Sockwell, Smart Wool, Thorlo and more. You’d be surprised how many of the camping and hiking essentials are actually made in USA as well! Here’s the store locator.
2. The BEST store for affordable Made in USA clothes: Nordstrom Rack
Here’s where I score all the best deals on American-made fashion. I’ve found sweaters, tops, dresses, jeans, sweatpants, undies and more by digging through the store and the clearance rack. Anything from $60 Citizen of Humanity jeans (!) to $10 Hanky Panky underwear – they’ve got it. Ever thought you’d run into a jumpsuit, or romper, sewn in the USA? Well, my friend Mary Beth did. Succeeding here does require some energy as stores tend to be overflowing with options. Here’s the store locator.
3. The BEST store for high quality home decor and furniture: Crate & Barrel
I know it’s on the pricier side of things, but we haven’t bought anything at Crate & Barrel that broke or disappointed us. They’ve got lots of made in USA kitchen gear, decor and furniture, as well as beautiful glassware from Europe. We got our king size bed frame from there, it was built and upholstered in North Carolina and made to order. Here’s the store locator.
4. The BEST store for American-stitched denim: Last Call by Neiman Marcus
Splendid, AG jeans, Paige, 7, True Religion, Eileen Fisher, J brand, rag & bone and several others – Last Call has most of these brands available at all times and the majority of their denim is sewn in the USA! You’ll also get a much better deal here than shopping at the mall or online. I am not the type to order jeans online – trying them on is a must. Even the same brand and style, to me, fit differently depending on the fabric and wash. Here’s the store locator.
5. The BEST place to go browsing and spend all day: Premium Outlets
You might get lucky at Premium Outlets and get a good deal on made in USA items at New Balance, 7 for all mankind, Tory Burch (some jewelry is US-made!), Saks off 5th or True Religion. The downside is you might NOT and end up spending the whole day, only to find nothing but sweatshop made clothes at Banana Republic and Chinese leather bags at Coach… (don’t buy them!) It’s worth a try if you keep an open mind and if you’re in that “shop all day mood”. Here’s the outlet locator.
Phew! These are my top five! Which ones are yours?
Shopping Made in USA doesn’t have to be complicated just because it’s happening offline! Try it out, let me know what you find :)
This is the third post in a four post series focusing on American-made style, featuring pictures of my friend Mary Beth in her own locally made clothes, photographed in some neat Houston locations by our friend Ashley. Check out my previous posts in the series about an LA-made t-shirt here and a great read on domestic leathers here.
When I wrote about and modeled my new Tradlands flannel shirt back in December, you might have noticed that my (awesome looking) glasses also appeared to be brand spanking new. You were right, they were.
For the past couple of weeks I’ve been talking about American-made style here on the blog. Why? Because shopping local strengthens our economy, helps small businesses grow and is actually more environmentally friendly than importing goods from far away.
When it comes to clothes, I hope you’re starting to realize that there is an abundance of made in USA brands out there. However, although many great handmade accessories (bags, jewelry, boots) can be found, some items are harder to find than others.
One thing that came to bite me before on my “Not made in China challenge” was eyewear.
Eyeglass frames are VERY often made in China or at least, rarely made in USA. So, in order to not shop for sweatshop-made imports, I had been wearing the same old, made in China Oakleys since April 2013! My friend, who happens to co-own an optician store, told me it was time for me to up my style with a new, ethically made pair from a “just-in” designer line of frames.
Meet STATE Optical. Luxury eyewear, handcrafted in Chicago, Illinois.
As I am writing this, there are 18 styles for optical frames and six different sunglass frames to chose from. All styles are named after the streets of the Windy City and come in four different colors.
I am wearing the Ravenswood frame in Granite, and do I need to mention how trendy they make me look? (These are the kind of frames an aspiring writer should be wearing! I feel very editorial.) The color of the frame is modern yet subtle and goes well with all my clothes.
“Named for the Ravenswood Land Company who originally planned the area around the thoroughfare as Chicago’s first suburb, Ravenswood Ave is now home to art centers, non-profits, some of the best pizza in the city, brewhouses, you name it. This style evokes the same vibe, worldly yet laid back.”
I’ve had my frames for about two months, and so far I LOVE them.
I am especially impressed by the fact that I haven’t felt them get “looser” over time. Anyone who wears glasses knows that the most annoying thing about it is to constantly correct them, push them up the nose, because they loosen and become too big with wear. STATE uses a unique German designed and manufactured custom hinge, with a nylon sleeve around the screw that allows a locking effect which should prevent the temples from loosening over time. Judging by my own experience it definitely seems to be working.
Founded in 2014, STATE Optical Co., in their own words, “Is a brand fueled by an intrinsic motivation to accomplish the improbable and blaze its own path despite evidence that “it can’t be done”. Of course, referring to the idea that manufacturing in the United States is an impossible feat.
Well, they, like so many other wonderful, small business brands I promote and love, are proving that indeed it CAN be done – with great success, better materials, more advanced techniques, superior craftsmanship and elevated attention to detail.
Handmade in USA is here to stay.
Check out STATE and their story at StateOptical.com and find a retailer near you. I got mine at Optical Edge, Houston, TX. Frames are $300+.
Note: Prescription lenses are readily available Made in USA! Just ask your optician before she cuts them for you, to make sure.
Since my baby bump is becoming more planet-like by the hour, thankfully, my dear friend Mary Beth agreed to model and contribute to the series once again. See, this lovely lady was so inspired by this little blog of mine that she decided last year that if the fashion isn’t made in USA, it simply isn’t worth buying. The result? She’s bought ONLY American-made clothes, bags, accessories and jewelry since her last appearance on the blog. Quite impressive, isn’t it?! Getting to inspire others is WHY I BLOG, so thanks MB!
Now, let’s get down to business and talk about the first American-made garment we picked for the blog – a statement tee from Good hYOUman.
I love that we’re starting with this brand because Mary Beth is such a good human.
This company, based out in LA (of course) is all about delivering high quality basics, giving back to the community and manufacturing ALL its products in the United States of America.
They’ve got tanks, tees, sweatshirts and sports bras for women; beanies, short- and long sleeved shirts for men and onesies and tops for the kiddos. Most tees are cotton/modal blends or 100% cotton which make for great eco-friendly picks. They do have some polyester mixes as well, but it’s all stated clearly on the website so you can easily manage your choice of fabric. Transparency is how we like it.
They can be found in smaller boutiques all over the USA (check out the store locator) and of course you can shop on online at GoodhYOUman.com – domestic shipping is free!
T-shirts sell for $40 to $48, and sweatshirts are in the $60 to $85 range.
Go check out Good hYOUman and come back and see us soon as I’ve got more Made in USA fashion posts coming! This is the first post in a four post series focusing on American-made style, all featuring the beautiful Mary Beth in her own locally made clothes, photographed in some neat Houston locations by our lovely friend Ashley.
I decided early on in my pregnancy to limit buying maternity clothes as much as possible and instead try to master pregnancy style using pretty much only my regular clothes and a few, versatile, basic hand-me-downs (thanks sis!). It’s worked out pretty well so far, and with that, left room in the budget for other clothes.
Christina El Moussa (of HGTV’s Flip or Flop) has been my number one pregnancy style inspiration. While she was pregnant with their second kid last year, she kept rocking outfits that fit her growing belly, showed it off even, but was never centered around it. One of my favorite looks of hers was the open plaid shirt, white top, boots and skinny jeans.
Time has come to introduce my new (lovely) flannel.
Made in the USA by a small company called Tradlands.
I am not often at a loss for words (blogger!), but when I first tried this shirt on at home (after it came in the mail) all I could say was “wow”. Followed by some more wows. Since I started the challenge almost three years ago, I haven’t encountered any American-made clothes as nice as this. This is the most beautifully crafted garment you can imagine. The flannel is thick and 100% cotton. The seams are flawless and the colors are vibrant and deep.
The shirt fits just like I was hoping it would. Of course I can’t button it over the bump, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to ;). Going by Tradlands’ online size guide, I’d be an XS which also matches the size of most button-up shirts I have in my closet. And here’s something amazing: my arms are monkey-style and rarely does an XS shirt have sleeves long enough for me, but this one does. Another wow.
Tradlands offers a wide range of women’s button-up shirts, everything from dress shirts for the office to heavier outdoor flannels like mine. They’ve also got some gorgeous sweaters. Many styles are made from organic cotton!
This amazing shirt sells for $167 online. I had a coupon code and ended up paying only $142 (free shipping and returns!). I almost regret using the coupon now. Had I known the excellence in craftsmanship, I would have been more than willing to pay full price to support the company. That’s what this challenge is all about after all, spending my money where it makes a difference.
This is an investment piece. A garment to keep forever. And the last thing I am buying myself in 2016. Ending on a high note!
In case you were wondering; the boots are old, the top and the skinny jeans are hand-me-downs from my sister. The jeans are actually made in USA too by AG Jeans!
The AMAZING glasses? Yes, they’re made right here and blog post coming soon!
It’s November! Finally some resemblance of fall in Houston. Actually, that’s a lie, it’s hot as hell but the calendar says November and with that it’s officially scarf season, my favorite one by far.
On my quest for sustainable maternity fashion, I went second hand shopping in Greenville, SC when we visited the region about a month ago, and found a pair of maternity jeans ($12) and this cotton-rayon mix dress. Perfect for cooler weather.
Yes, it’s another straight line dress with stripes (you know that’s my thing!). It is one size up from what I’d normally wear, so I have some room, but there ain’t nothing maternity about it. Generally speaking, I want to be able to wear the clothes I invest in again and again, why not also the ones I buy while pregnant?
I paid $22 for the dress, and I swear it looks brand new. Great deal!
To me, sustainable fashion is using what’s in my closet as much and as long as possible, avoiding at all costs garments going to landfill. Especially ones that still look great. Did you know that by wearing a piece of clothing 50 times instead of five (the fast fashion average), you reduce carbon emissions by 400 percent per year, per garment?
So, I’m wearing my new dress with my (also) new, made in USA maternity tights from Storq.com and pre-challenge (unethically made) favorites from my ever so modest closet. Namely, my very favorite fall scarf (DSW 2012) that goes with everything, a bag my husband bought me (Coach 2012) and impulse purchased booties (Steve Madden 2009). If it’s already in my closet, I make sure I rock it. Bump or no bump!
I don’t normally use filters on pictures but I figured Houston could use a little extra fall spirit created by one. And I happen to think little eco-baby on the way looks really cute in this light :)
How are you showing off what’s already in your closet this fall?
Anyone who’s spent time with me during the last year has probably heard my “I can’t see, the road is blurry” complaints. Well, hubby finally managed to get me to the optometrist.
I’m not going blind or anything, which is great news since there’s so much beauty in this world, but my eyes have gotten quite a bit worse since April 2013 when I did my last check and bought my Oakley (made in China!) glasses. So a little complaining has been in order. My prescription sunglasses are even older, 2011(!) and way overdue to get upgraded style-wise and prescription-wise. They have definitely been bothering me lately.
My husband also needed new glasses, so we headed over to Lens Crafters hoping to find something cool for both of us. Frames are very often made in China, but I think eyewear is one of those exceptions where you need to keep an open mind and go with what works for your face and vision needs. If China happens, China happens. Also, I have not seen any local or environmentally friendly, good looking choices.
Since I still really like my 2013 Oakleys, I decided to change only the prescription lenses (USA made!) and keep the frames. Yay, that’s glasses done sustainably!
My husband decided to go with Ray Ban black hipster frames (you know what I am talking about) which were made in China, unfortunately. Our first felony of 2015! I wasn’t even considering asking him to pick something else (wife points – wop wop). Record the felony and move on.
For sunglasses, I did navigate towards the ones they keep locked up (figured they were less likely to be made in China) and immediately found myself eye to eye with the most gorgeous Tiffany & Co frames. Made in Italy* gorgeousness with a price tag to match… But they were perfect, and could be made with my prescription. Where do I sign?! (Let me just mention that the minty-turquoise box is FSC® certified and gorgeous too, and I couldn’t stop smiling when I was walking around with it in the mall.) This is the fanciest thing I have ever bought I think! ($369 with prescription lenses)
I love my new sunglasses so much! They are spectacular! My Spanish friend at work told me I look like a Jordi Labanda girl. O M G, it’s my dream to look like one of them! (I’m dead serious about that.) And all it took was some Italian bling?! I wish I had known this trick sooner.
Conclusion of this story: I am beyond excited to actually see! I feel like the world is now displayed on an apple retina screen. Lens Crafters gave us a really good deal too, since we bought two full pairs (China/USA, Italy/USA) and one set of lenses (USA) at the same time :)
We committed a felony but we also made a Jordi Labanda situation happen. All in all; extremely successful.
*Made in Italy may mean parts or labor have been sourced other places. They do not have to report foreign sub-suppliers per Italian law, as far as I understand. But, considering this is a luxury brand, I am hoping for the best. Also reading about Tiffany & Co. I feel very comfortable with their sustainability efforts.
When I first started the not made in China challenge January 2014, I had to re-think my entire shopping pattern. My husband and I were both frequent shoppers at Banana Republic, J.Crew and Coach. I bought my occasional pair of shoes (Michael Kors’ heels and Keds being favorites) at DSW. I came to realize, quickly, that all these stores and brands were practically off limits. At the very beginning, I bought my Juicy Couture soft grey sweats on sale and I thought I would run into more affordable clothes made in USA. Well, at the mall, you just don’t, and so for a long time; I didn’t buy anything at all.
I started to reinvent some of the outfits I already had, but I was still a bit uninspired and tired, though very determined to not give up. Obvious US choices like American Apparel and designer dresses and jeans were a no-go as well, for style or price reasons. Then it happened: I ran into that Richter Co. tee at Whole Earth Provision, and started wondering if there were endless, small American brands yet to be discovered. I started to search online, look in new stores and scavenge the racks (which has always scared me a little – too messy!). Bit by bit, piece by piece, rack by rack – I have become a made in America shopper. I say America and not USA because when it comes to sexy shoes, yes, I need to include South America.
My friend and I have been talking a lot about this topic, and I presented her with the idea to make a LookBook. In other words, make a photo collection of the clothes I have found and bought on this challenge and present them in a stylish way, in order to inspire others to go look for made right here. As a blogger I have a lot of words and as a photographer she has lots of talent, technique and cool spots to pick from, so we headed out to the country side.
One hour, 101 degrees, a few bugs and an exhausted reflector girl later, we had more photos than we would ever need for this project.
I am so thankful to have friends who inspire me, and whom I get to inspire in return. Does she shop made in China anymore? Very rarely! Did she return an expensive, online purchase when she saw the tag? Yes, she did! (See, I am saving her money ;))
Check out the results and get more information about the clothes on my new page LookBook! (I also had a few photos/outfits from before) My plan is to keep adding to it, whenever I have a new outfit to show. Hopefully, there’ll be enough good stuff for a fall shoot later on! (Can’t wait! Another chance to play model!)
I had, for some reason, never paired up this necklace, this shirt and these shoes before, and when I did, I instantly loved it! I feel way new today, very colorful and perfect for a day at the office. Reinventing comes in especially handy when you’re on a not made in China challenge, since shopping for cute stuff can be a bit challenging (obviously).
Shoes: Missoni for Target. Back in September 2011 they did a guest spot, and a friend and I went there just a few hours after the launch and pretty much everything was already gone! I did find these flats in my size and grabbed them immediately; I think they were $35.
Shirt: By my ex-lover J.Crew. Got it at the outlet (of course) in 2012.
Necklace: Gift from my sweet mom; it was for my Birthday 2009. I remember it was that year, because I wore it in a few pictures during a New-York-sister-get-away the following May. I had paired it with this purple cardigan I had, which fit really well, a beige skirt, black ballerinas and a white blouse. It looked really nice together. Unfortunately, I never saw that cardigan again! To this day, I have no idea what happened to it. I think I must have left it in New York.