A look inside our primary manufacturer in downtown Los Angeles.
The New Made in the U.S.A.
U.S. employment in the apparel manufacturing industry has declined sharply in the last 25 years, from almost 940,000 in 1990 to about 144,000 in 2013. The story as to why this happened has been told many times over and we won't rehash it. But the story doesn't end there. In the last few years, there has been a resurgence in American apparel manufacturing, not just in sheer numbers of jobs available, but in the types of manufacturing capabilities available, the advancement of new technologies and the increased sustainability and efficiency of manufacturing techniques. Although overall there are fewer jobs available, these jobs require more skill and as a result, better wages.
So what does "Made in Los Angeles" mean to us?
Cut and Sew Manufacturing
When you try on a new piece of clothing, you can tell right away whether the quality of the item is good or bad. It's not only the feel of the fabric, it's the seams, the buttons and zippers and you can tell that some items are just built to last more than others. As you wear the clothes, subjecting them to the rigors of your daily life, washing them, spilling on them, sweating in them, it becomes even more apparent whether you've got a keeper item that will be a part of your life's adventures for years to come, or whether you've got a throw-away item that you won't want to wear more than a few items and that will likely end up in a landfill somewhere in the near future. We're only interested in making the former of these.
In our view, when we work with small factories, which are often family-owned, you're much more likely to get high quality results because the owners know that they will never compete on volume and price with their foreign counterparts, so their craftmanship is their number one selling point. And when that factory is located in the U.S., you also get the assurance that the workers make decent wages and that the conditions in which they work are clean and safe. As a result, you're much more likely to end up with apparel that is well-made and that you can feel good about.
And even though we don't sew our products ourselves, we're licensed by the California Department of Industrial Relations as a Garment Manufacturer, meaning that all of the factories we work with in California are also licensed and subject to rigorous compliance standards to make sure they are complying with labor and overtime laws.
For us, paying attention to each and every detail of our products and getting to know each of our suppliers and manufacturers personally is one of the ways we differentiate ourselves. And when you spend an hour at a local factory just hanging out, you can have way more comfort that those same people will want to make sure your order comes out right.
When we are struck with inspiration for a new idea, the first thing we do is try and find the best fabric available that will bring this product idea to life. We first look to deadstock fabrics here in Los Angeles to meet our needs. These are fabrics that have been cast off from mills and other brands because they made too much or they couldn't use them, and if they can't resell them they end up in a landfill. When we do purchase in-production fabrics directly from mills, our needs are small enough that we are still buying fabric that has already been produced and is sitting at the mill or distributor, rather than requiring additional production runs. We first look to fabrics manufactured in the United States because we know that the process used to create the fabric was relatively efficient and sustainable as compared to most other countries. As we grow as a company and have more capability to work with larger fabric mills, we intend to further focus our product development on materials made exclusively in the United States or in countries with similar standards for sustainability.
We're always evolving our ideas about the best way to make our products, who we should work with and how we can use more sustainable materials. If you have any stories or information you'd like to share with us about great factories or resources on new technologies, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.