This past weekend I was out shopping at a large upscale mall near where I live. The mall is called Irvine Spectrum and is always packed with shoppers. There is a Nordstrom and Macys, along with many other upscale retailers. I was there to shop for a new pair of running shoes and decided to do a bit more shopping.
I went into Lucky Brands, a upscale mens and womens clothing store. They specialize in selling high quality jeans and accessories. While I was looking at a pair of jeans, a clerk came over and asked if I would be interested in buying a pair of pants that were “made in America”. I was really surprised, I had never been approached by someone offering me clothing with that selling point.
I decided to take a look at the jeans, they didn’t look any different from the other jeans, other than the price, which was about 20% higher than the other jeans I was looking at. I thought to myself, would I be willing to pay an extra $20 for a pair of jeans to support US manufacturing jobs. Then I wondered how much of the Jeans were actually “made in America”, or were the components just put together/sewn together. Was the cotton grown in the US, was the cotton woven into cloth in the US, was the cloth dyed in the US, was the zipper made in the US and etc.
I ended up not buying anything, but did realized that prior to this, I’ve never really thought about where the clothes I wear were made. The important thing to me has always been about quality, style and price.
I continued my shopping and found myself at American Apparel. A retailer who uses, Made in the USA as part of its logo. 100% of its clothing are sewn in the US and it is vertically integrated, so the many of the materials it uses are also sourced in the US. According to their website, they operate the largest sewing facility in the US.
As I am shopping at American Apparel, I notice that the pricing is considerably higher than similar clothing at other retailers. American Apparel, unlike Lucky Brands, isn’t considered a ‘designer’ brand that you would expect to pay more for. Basics such as button down shirts were over $50. After shopping for a few minutes, I leave without buying anything.
I really like the idea of buying American, supporting US based manufacturing jobs and US based workers. However, I am not sure what it is worth to me to do that. Am I willing to pay 20% or more for something that is made in the US. I really don’t know the answer to that. My initial thinking is probably not, since I tend to be very price sensitive, but if it helps the overall economy, perhaps it makes sense.
There isn’t really a clear answer for me on this. If the prices were the same or very close, I would buy everything that was made in America, however, with the price difference, this is something that I will have to think about.