Made In America: Can We Spark That Consumer Flame Again?

Thoughts on the future of American-made goods, as so much manufacturing moves overseas

by karenmathis • More.com Member { View Profile }

Let’s look at the merchandise, is it the same at better prices? What designers contract and send overseas to make is outside this evaluation, there are vendors knocking them off at good prices. I cannot say there is no difference.  Actually it depends on the fabric and silhouettes. There certainly is not the quality of Italian tailoring in silhouettes and garments that I could find. There are, however, lots of great looking sportswear separates and dresses made of novelty synthetics at incredible prices for the younger customer! What used to cost hundreds for a great looking black jersey dress can now be found for $10 – $20. There was also an abundance of key fashion items at great prices. What does this mean for the shopper with fewer dollars?  It means she can get more mileage for her money and that is just a fact! 

What about social consciousness?

It seems like such a great idea to get more for our money.  Do we know where will this take us as a nation?  Should we care? India is right now going through a similar time that our fashion industry experienced over 100 years ago. Beginning with child labor, unsafe conditions for workers, no insurance, no fire and safety standards, many times workers are locked up and forced to live in the sweat shops. Is it fair to strap that guilt on the USA shopper with our buying choices? As a matter of fact, it is the government policy of our country that has created the problem.  Is it fair to ask shoppers to bear the burden with their own family needs at hand?

What does this mean for those of us small businesses who want to continue designing, manufacturing, and selling in America?  If we can work smart, we may actually be able to compete. With giant retailers knocking out the small retail shops over the years, this may even open opportunity for some of us. This may be a time for leveling out the playing field for the small designer firms. Home office and home studios can be a great savings to the bottom line, moving manufacturing to areas where lowered overhead can be effective, joint projects pooling talents on a project by project basis, and selling direct to the customers online can all be ways to compete and even thrive. This solution serves the shopper for more unique affordable merchandise stretching their few dollars. Who knows, we may be able to spark a small flame once again called “Made in America.”     

Written by Karen Mathis of www.WrapMeInCouture.Etsy.com where the entire collection is "Made in America".

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