28
Feb
15

China Is Creating a New Economic World Order Right Under the West’s Nose

China Is Creating a New Economic World Order Right Under the West’s Nose | The Nation.

So, why do we care about China? Because they are the United States’ main economic competitor and it is the main country where most of our offshoring jobs went to.

The following article is from TomDispatch.com and re-copied by The Nation. It tells the actual story of the economic strength of China. Forget the stories we get from our lame American Mass Media centers. (Our U.S. media has gotten so lazy that they no longer do any investigative reporting. They just repeat what somebody else has reported.) So, what is really going on in China? It is clearly a Renaissance. In the economic race, China has sped right past us – zooming along with its 40,000 miles of high speed rail compared to the US economy which is driving its 1980 Off-shoring ,”Free-Trade” policy which is much like driving a Geo Metro along pot-holed roads. (There is one high speed rail being built in the U.S. [in California] and people are decrying how expensive and futuristic it is.) The supposed reported economic slowdown in China? The Chinese Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has dropped from double digits growth to (only) a 7% increase. That is a slowdown??! The U.S. would be madly celebrating if we ever again approach that percentage of growth. (The US GDP for 2014 was 2%, which was a good year). The following article is actually depressing about what giant advances are happening in China, it reminds me of the book by Thomas Friedman “That Used To Be Us.”

America, get ready to take a permanent seat in the back and be prepared not only to be lapped by China, but also passed up by India in 2035 (see my predictions). A few suggestions to become competitive again: stop offshoring U.S. jobs, stop letting China export goods into the U.S. without import taxes, stop sending troops into the Middle East and it is time to come up with an actual U.S. economic and manufacturing policy.

China Is Creating a New Economic World Order Right Under the West’s Nose

Shanghai Tower

Shanghai Tower is illuminated in the Lujiazui financial district of Pudong in Shanghai. (Reuters/Aly Song)

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com.

BEIJING—Seen from the Chinese capital as the Year of the Sheep starts, the malaise affecting the West seems like a mirage in a galaxy far, far away. On the other hand, the China that surrounds you looks all too solid and nothing like the embattled nation you hear about in the Western media, with its falling industrial figures, its real estate bubble, and its looming environmental disasters. Prophecies of doom notwithstanding, as the dogs of austerity and war bark madly in the distance, the Chinese caravan passes by in what President Xi Jinping calls “new normal” mode.

“Slower” economic activity still means a staggeringly impressive annual growth rate of 7% in what is now the globe’s leading economy. Internally, an immensely complex economic restructuring is underway as consumption overtakes investment as the main driver of economic development. At 46.7% of the gross domestic product (GDP), the service economy has pulled ahead of manufacturing, which stands at 44%.

Geopolitically, Russia, India, and China have just sent a powerful message westward: they are busy fine-tuning a complex trilateral strategy for setting up a network of economic corridors the Chinese call “new silk roads” across Eurasia. Beijing is also organizing a maritime version of the same, modeled on the feats of Admiral Zheng He who, in the Ming dynasty, sailed the “western seas” seven times, commanding fleets of more than 200 vessels.

Meanwhile, Moscow and Beijing are at work planning a new high-speed rail remix of the fabled Trans-Siberian Railroad. And Beijing is committed to translating its growing strategic partnership with Russia into crucial financial and economic help, if a sanctions-besieged Moscow, facing a disastrous oil price war, asks for it.

To China’s south, Afghanistan, despite the 13-year American war still being fought there, is fast moving into its economic orbit, while a planned China-Myanmar oil pipeline is seen as a game-changing reconfiguration of the flow of Eurasian energy across what I’ve long called Pipelineistan.

And this is just part of the frenetic action shaping what the Beijing leadership defines as the New Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road of the twenty-first century. We’re talking about a vision of creating a potentially mind-boggling infrastructure, much of it from scratch, that will connect China to Central Asia, the Middle East, and Western Europe. Such a development will include projects that range from upgrading the ancient silk road via Central Asia to developing a Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar economic corridor; a China-Pakistan corridor through Kashmir; and a new maritime silk road that will extend from southern China all the way, in reverse Marco Polo fashion, to Venice.

Don’t think of this as the twenty-first-century Chinese equivalent of America’s post-World War II Marshall Plan for Europe, but as something far more ambitious and potentially with a far vaster reach.

China as a Mega-City

If you are following this frenzy of economic planning from Beijing, you end up with a perspective not available in Europe or the U.S. Here, red-and-gold billboards promote President Xi Jinping’s much ballyhooed new tagline for the country and the century, “the Chinese Dream” (which brings to mind “the American Dream” of another era). No subway station is without them. They are a reminder of why 40,000 miles of brand new high-speed rail is considered so essential to the country’s future. After all, no less than 300 million Chinese have, in the last three decades, made a paradigm-breaking migration from the countryside to exploding urban areas in search of that dream.

Another 350 million are expected to be on the way, according to a McKinsey Global Institute study. From 1980 to 2010, China’s urban population grew by 400 million, leaving the country with at least 700 million urban dwellers. This figure is expected to hit one billion by 2030, which means tremendous stress on cities, infrastructure, resources, and the economy as a whole, as well as near-apocalyptic air pollution levels in some major cities.

Already 160 Chinese cities boast populations of more than one million. (Europe has only 35.) No less than 250 Chinese cities have tripled their GDP per capita since 1990, while disposable income per capita is up by 300%.

These days, China should be thought of not in terms of individual cities but urban clusters—groupings of cities with more than 60 million people. The Beijing-Tianjin area, for example, is actually a cluster of 28 cities. Shenzhen, the ultimate migrant megacity in the southern province of Guangdong, is now a key hub in a cluster as well. China, in fact, has more than 20 such clusters, each the size of a European country. Pretty soon, the main clusters will account for 80% of China’s GDP and 60% of its population. So the country’s high-speed rail frenzy and its head-spinning infrastructure projects—part of a $1.1 trillion investment in 300 public works—are all about managing those clusters.

Not surprisingly, this process is intimately linked to what in the West is considered a notorious “housing bubble,” which in 1998 couldn’t have even existed. Until then all housing was still owned by the state. Once liberalized, that housing market sent a surging Chinese middle class into paroxysms of investment. Yet with rare exceptions, middle-class Chinese can still afford their mortgages because both rural and urban incomes have also surged.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is, in fact, paying careful attention to this process, allowing farmers to lease or mortgage their land, among other things, and so finance their urban migration and new housing. Since we’re talking about hundreds of millions of people, however, there are bound to be distortions in the housing market, even the creation of whole disastrous ghost towns with associated eerie, empty malls.

The Chinese infrastructure frenzy is being financed by a pool of investments from central and local government sources, state-owned enterprises, and the private sector. The construction business, one of the country’s biggest employers, involves more than 100 million people, directly or indirectly. Real estate accounts for as much as 22% of total national investment in fixed assets and all of this is tied to the sale of consumer appliances, furnishings, and an annual turnover of 25% of China’s steel production, 70% of its cement, 70% of its plate glass, and 25% of its plastics.

So no wonder, on my recent stay in Beijing, businessmen kept assuring me that the ever-impending “popping” of the “housing bubble” is, in fact, a myth in a country where, for the average citizen, the ultimate investment is property. In addition, the vast urbanization drive ensures, as Premier Li Keqiang stressed at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, a “long-term demand for housing.”

Markets, Markets, Markets

China is also modifying its manufacturing base, which increased by a multiple of 18 in the last three decades. The country still produces 80% of the world’s air conditioners, 90% of its personal computers, 75% of its solar panels, 70% of its cell phones, and 63% of its shoes. Manufacturing accounts for 44% of Chinese GDP, directly employing more than 130 million people. In addition, the country already accounts for 12.8% of global research and development, well ahead of England and most of Western Europe.

Yet the emphasis is now switching to a fast-growing domestic market, which will mean yet more major infrastructural investment, the need for an influx of further engineering talent, and a fast-developing supplier base. Globally, as China starts to face new challenges—rising labor costs, an increasingly complicated global supply chain, and market volatility—it is also making an aggressive push to move low-tech assembly to high-tech manufacturing. Already, the majority of Chinese exports are smartphones, engine systems, and cars (with planes on their way). In the process, a geographic shift in manufacturing is underway from the southern seaboard to Central and Western China. The city of Chengdu in the southwestern province of Sichuan, for instance, is now becoming a high-tech urban cluster as it expands around firms like Intel and HP.

So China is boldly attempting to upgrade in manufacturing terms, both internally and globally at the same time. In the past, Chinese companies have excelled in delivering the basics of life at cheap prices and acceptable quality levels. Now, many companies are fast upgrading their technology and moving up into second- and first-tier cities, while foreign firms, trying to lessen costs, are moving down to second- and third-tier cities. Meanwhile, globally, Chinese CEOs want their companies to become true multinationals in the next decade. The country already has 73 companies in the Fortune Global 500, leaving it in the number two spot behind the U.S.

In terms of Chinese advantages, keep in mind that the future of the global economy clearly lies in Asia with its record rise in middle-class incomes. In 2009, the Asia-Pacific region had just 18% of the world’s middle class; by 2030, according to the Development Center of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, that figure will rise to an astounding 66%. North America and Europe had 54% of the global middle class in 2009; in 2030, it will only be 21%.

Follow the money, and the value you get for that money, too. For instance, no less than 200,000 Chinese workers were involved in the production of the first iPhone, overseen by 8,700 Chinese industrial engineers. They were recruited in only two weeks. In the U.S., that process might have taken more than nine months. The Chinese manufacturing ecosystem is indeed fast, flexible, and smart—and it’s backed by an ever more impressive education system. Since 1998, the percentage of GDP dedicated to education has almost tripled; the number of colleges has doubled; and in only a decade, China has built the largest higher education system in the world.

Strengths and Weaknesses

China holds more than $15 trillion in bank deposits, which are growing by a whopping $2 trillion a year. Foreign exchange reserves are nearing $4 trillion. A definitive study of how this torrent of funds circulates within China among projects, companies, financial institutions, and the state still does not exist. No one really knows, for instance, how many loans the Agricultural Bank of China actually makes. High finance, state capitalism, and one-party rule all mix and meld in the realm of Chinese financial services where realpolitik meets real big money.

The big four state-owned banks—the Bank of China, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the China Construction Bank, and the Agricultural Bank of China—have all evolved from government organizations into semi-corporate state-owned entities. They benefit handsomely both from legacy assets and government connections, or guanxi, and operate with a mix of commercial and government objectives in mind. They are the drivers to watch when it comes to the formidable process of reshaping the Chinese economic model.

As for China’s debt-to-GDP ratio, it’s not yet a big deal. In a list of 17 countries, it lies well below those of Japan and the U.S., according to Standard Chartered Bank, and unlike in the West, consumer credit is only a small fraction of total debt. True, the West exhibits a particular fascination with China’s shadow banking industry: wealth management products, underground finance, off-the-balance-sheet lending. But such operations only add up to around 28% of GDP, whereas, according to the International Monetary Fund, it’s a much higher percentage in the U.S.

China’s problems may turn out to come from non-economic areas where the Beijing leadership has proven far more prone to false moves. It is, for instance, on the offensive on three fronts, each of which may prove to have its own form of blowback: tightening ideological control over the country under the rubric of sidelining “Western values”; tightening control over online information and social media networks, including reinforcing “the Great Firewall of China” to police the Internet; and tightening further its control over restive ethnic minorities, especially over the Uighurs in the key western province of Xinjiang.

On two of these fronts—the “Western values” controversy and Internet control—the leadership in Beijing might reap far more benefits, especially among the vast numbers of younger, well educated, globally connected citizens, by promoting debate, but that’s not how the hyper-centralized Chinese Communist Party machinery works.

When it comes to those minorities in Xinjiang, the essential problem may not be with the new guiding principles of President Xi’s ethnic policy. According to Beijing-based analyst Gabriele Battaglia, Xi wants to manage ethnic conflict there by applying the “three Js”: jiaowang, jiaoliu, jiaorong (“inter-ethnic contact,” “exchange,” and “mixage”). Yet what adds up to a push from Beijing for Han/Uighur assimilation may mean little in practice when day-to-day policy in Xinjiang is conducted by unprepared Han cadres who tend to view most Uighurs as “terrorists.”

If Beijing botches the handling of its Far West, Xinjiang won’t, as expected, become the peaceful, stable, new hub of a crucial part of the silk-road strategy. Yet it is already considered an essential communication link in Xi’s vision of Eurasian integration, as well as a crucial conduit for the massive flow of energy supplies from Central Asia and Russia. The Central Asia-China pipeline, for instance, which brings natural gas from the Turkmen-Uzbek border through Uzbekistan and southern Kazakhstan, is already adding a fourth line to Xinjiang. And one of the two newly agreed upon Russia-China pipelines will also arrive in Xinjiang.

The Book of Xi

The extent and complexity of China’s myriad transformations barely filter into the American media. Stories in the U.S. tend to emphasize the country’s “shrinking” economy and nervousness about its future global role, the way it has “duped” the U.S. about its designs, and its nature as a military “threat” to Washington and the world.

The U.S. media has a China fever, which results in typically feverish reports that don’t take the pulse of the country or its leader. In the process, so much is missed. One prescription might be for them to read The Governance of China, a compilation of President Xi’s major speeches, talks, interviews, and correspondence. It’s already a three-million-copy bestseller in its Mandarin edition and offers a remarkably digestible vision of what Xi’s highly proclaimed “China Dream” will mean in the new Chinese century.

Xi Dada (“Xi Big Bang” as he’s nicknamed here) is no post-Mao deity. He’s more like a pop phenomenon and that’s hardly surprising. In this “to get rich is glorious” remix, you couldn’t launch the superhuman task of reshaping the Chinese model by being a cold-as-a-cucumber bureaucrat. Xi has instead struck a collective nerve by stressing that the country’s governance must be based on competence, not insider trading and Party corruption, and he’s cleverly packaged the transformation he has in mind as an American-style “dream.”

Behind the pop star clearly lies a man of substance that the Western media should come to grips with. You don’t, after all, manage such an economic success story by accident. It may be particularly important to take his measure since he’s taken the measure of Washington and the West and decided that China’s fate and fortune lie elsewhere.

As a result, last November he made official an earthshaking geopolitical shift. From now on, Beijing would stop treating the U.S. or the European Union as its main strategic priority and refocus instead on China’s Asian neighbors and fellow BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa, with a special focus on Russia), also known here as the “major developing powers” (kuoda fazhanzhong de guojia). And just for the record, China does not consider itself a “developing country” anymore.

No wonder there’s been such a blitz of Chinese mega-deals and mega-dealings across Pipelineistan recently. Under Xi, Beijing is fast closing the gap on Washington in terms of intellectual and economic firepower and yet its global investment offensive has barely begun, new silk roads included.

Singapore’s former foreign minister George Yeo sees the newly emerging world order as a solar system with two suns, the United States and China. The Obama administration’s new National Security Strategy affirms that “the United States has been and will remain a Pacific power” and states that “while there will be competition, we reject the inevitability of confrontation” with Beijing. The “major developing powers,” intrigued as they are by China’s extraordinary infrastructural push, both internally and across those New Silk Roads, wonder whether a solar system with two suns might not be a non-starter. The question then is: Which “sun” will shine on Planet Earth? Might this, in fact, be the century of the dragon?

 

Read Next: Do you think products made in China should be called ‘US exports’?

26
Feb
15

American Giant – All Made in the USA

American Giant Guns For Gap By Doubling Down On The USA | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

Here is the latest article about American clothing manufacturing company, American Giant. This is from the magazine ‘Fast Company’ – highlighting the most innovative companies for 2015, Fast Company looks at the company American Giant, a San Francisco based company, who has moved their manufacturing base from San Francisco to the Carolinas, in order to be close to the homegrown cotton. Thanks to the Alliance for American Manufacturing for highlighting this story. I have highlighted the American Giant company several times before, like ‘American Giant: A new Business Model‘ and ‘Sweatshirts Made in USA‘ but this newest article: ‘American Giant Guns For Gap By Doubling Down On the USA’ is a very good update and quite detailed. America Giant has expanded from just sweatshirts, they also offer T-shirts, graphic shirts, polos, sweatpants and shorts – in limited quantities.

 

American Giant Sweatshirts

American Giant Sweatshirts

 

American Giant Guns For Gap By Doubling Down On The USA

For breathing new life into U.S. apparel manufacturing.

During the autumn harvest season of 2013, a white-haired cotton farmer named Jerry Hamill received a gift in the mail: a hooded sweatshirt. Normally, he wouldn’t have thought much of that—sweat clothes aren’t an important part of his ­wardrobe—but this looked like a different class of garment. It was a rich navy blue and made of heavy cotton, with a sturdy metal zipper running up the front, and made by a company called American Giant. Hamill hadn’t heard of it; he isn’t the kind of guy who looks at labels, and so wouldn’t know that Slate had dubbed the product he was holding “the greatest hoodie ever made.” But he sure liked the way it looked when he tried it on.

“Most sweatshirts, there ain’t much to ’em,” Hamill says, as he and I drive in his Ford pickup down a country road in North Carolina. “But this was a good sweatshirt.”

One year later, Hamill is eagerly showing the fruits of his harvest-in-process to Bayard ­Winthrop—American Giant’s CEO, and the guy who sent the present. American Giant is trying to refashion the apparel industry supply chain, which is why Winthrop, a rugged brand builder whose four-year-old company is based in San Francisco, is standing on the edge of a white-tufted field, discussing his business plan over the whir of a cotton picker. Over the past two years, Winthrop has moved the vast majority of his production line to the Carolinas. Exaggerating only slightly, the salesman tells the farmer, “All of our output is coming from a 180-mile area.”

American Giant is not yet a household name in the apparel market, like Levi’s or Gap, but Winthrop has outsize ideas about its future. He doesn’t just want to sell hoodies, ­T-shirts, and polos; he wants to prove that American manufacturing can be profitable again, reversing a devastating economic trend. No U.S. manufacturing industry has suffered more from outsourcing than textiles and apparel: The domestic workforce has shrunk by roughly three-quarters since the 1990s. Winthrop is crafting an ­American-made resurgence, one that draws its power from both a heritage appeal and the Internet. American Giant is an e-commerce phenomenon: its clothes, sold only via the web, are comfortable, flattering, durable, and popular with a fanatical fan base. As a private company, American Giant declines to release sales figures, but Winthrop says its business has tripled each year since its launch in 2012. The company’s products routinely sell out and can be back-ordered for weeks. That’s why Winthrop is here in the Carolinas: American Giant is working to reengineer its back end, experimenting with a counterintuitive approach to making clothes—and creating American jobs in the process.

“Our bet is that eventually you begin to trust American Giant,” Winthrop tells me. “And say, ‘All right, these guys are product guys.'”

Winthrop talks like Bruce Springsteen one minute, Jeff Bezos the next. We first met a few months ago in Manhattan, over lunch at an appropriately old-time tavern. Winthrop has worked on Wall Street, in the San Francisco tech sector—he ran an early dotcom that was acquired by Infoseek, a popular search engine before Google came along—and in various retail niches, making products like snowshoes and messenger bags. But neither he nor his COO, Kent Kendall, had any prior experience in fashion design. The pair had a friendship that dated back to private grade school in wealthy Greenwich, Connecticut—Winthrop’s family traces its lineage to a governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, while Ken­dall’s father, Don, is a former CEO of Pepsi—and they later worked together at a skateboard company. Their experiences eventually led them to some blunt conclusions about the retail business. Winthrop has put them into a slim new book he’s titled, characteristically, I F**king Love That Company.

“The dirty secret of the apparel industry is that shirt that you bought at Nordstrom for $80 gets made for six or seven bucks,” Winthrop says, reaching across the table to feel the thin fabric of my collar. “The rest of the margin is chewed up by a whole bunch of shit that I would argue the customer cares less and less about.” For brands that Winthrop aspires to compete with, like the Gap, much of the sales margin pays for real estate and staff.

Winthrop founded American Giant with seed funding from Kendall’s father, and hired another friend, a former Apple product designer named Philipe Manoux, as the startup’s first creative director. Manoux had worked on projects such as the iPhone’s touch screen, but he, too, knew little about clothing design. Winthrop gave him an engineering mission. “There was a trend toward basic, simply executed, but really high-end,” Manoux says. “That was the environment in San Francisco; these small restaurants were opening up with really small menus, doing two or three things really well, and we wanted to be part of that.”

Given its birthplace, it was only fitting that American Giant chose to start by disrupting the hoodie, the tech world’s signature fashion statement. “Sweatshirts were iconically American,” Winthrop says, “and had been left to go to shit.” Winthrop and Manoux started their design phase by going on shopping expeditions, buying up clothes at thrift stores to rip apart and reverse-engineer. They especially liked the “hand feel” of vintage cotton: dry to the touch, in contrast to the slick texture of newer synthetic blends. Manoux paid a great deal of attention to the question of fit, producing a prototype that was tough on the outside and soft on the inside, with a band that clung to the waist and side panels that would stretch to accommodate larger bellies. He fixated on details like the interior material of the hood, because it was visible much of the time, and the little metal aglets that sheath the ends of the drawstring.

The prototype was beautiful, but American Giant soon ran into a problem: It wasn’t easy to mass-produce reliably. Winthrop tried to source fabric from a factory in India, but it was difficult to explain his organic concept across the culture barrier. “Our ability to control the quality was really crappy,” he says. That’s when Winthrop started looking to the South, to see if American Giant could actually be produced in America.


180 miles: Most of American Giant’s production process—harvesting the cotton, then knitting, dyeing, napping, rolling, cutting, and sewing it—takes place within a few hours’ drive in North and South Carolina.

“It’s a long process from me to the clothes on your back,” Hamill tells Winthrop. The square-jawed Winthrop, wearing a black American Giant T-shirt, a navy American Giant hoodie, and blue jeans, watches as the harvested cotton is dumped into a tub as large as a truck trailer, where it’s compressed into giant cubes. The cubes will be transported to a wheezing cotton gin in the nearby town of Enfield, North Carolina, to be de-seeded, baled, and shipped. (Raw cotton is traded on global commodities markets.) The largest domestic cotton buyer, North Carolina–based Parkdale Mills, is also in American Giant’s supply chain. Parkdale processes bales into “sliver” that is spun into yarn by enormous robotic machines, which have replaced much of the company’s human workforce. The yarn is then knitted into rolls of fabric, which end up at Carolina Cotton Works, a company in Gaffney, South Carolina.

Winthrop first met Carolina Cotton Works’ owners, the Ashby family, when he was exploring his supply chain options. “The garment was special,” says Bryan Ashby, the company’s VP and sales chief. Winthrop was different from his usual customer, who Ashby says is typically “run and gun and ton.” Still, he was dubious. “I said, ‘I hear what you’re saying,’ ” Ashby recalls. “ ‘But I’m afraid the sticker shock is going to send you back to San Francisco.’ ” And initially, it did. But after a few shipments of lackluster Indian fabric, Winthrop came back and signed a deal with Carolina Cotton Works.

On a recent morning, the three Ashbys—Bryan; his brother, Hunter; and their father, Page—take Winthrop to see what’s happening to his products inside their dyeing and finishing plant. Bolts of natural cloth, or “greige,” are piled into bins in preparation for the dyeing process. Winthrop translates the technical jargon of apparel manufacturing with colloquial, precise enthusiasm. Picking up one piece of greige, he tells me to look closely at its knit. “The tightness of the weave is here in these loops,” he says. Batch by batch, the greige is loaded into huge, dripping dyeing machines, where it’s spun around at high temperature. Fabric emerges, soaking wet, in a hue that American Giant calls phantom gray. It’s then stretched flat and run through a drying mechanism, which works like a bagel toaster, and finally loaded onto a machine called the napper.

“This is violent,” Bryan says. The gray fabric rolls over a cylinder that is studded with thousands of tiny, rapidly moving needles, which rip up the loops on one side, turning it fluffy.

Page Ashby says that doing business with American Giant required a leap of faith. If a startup fashion label fails, its suppliers can get stiffed. But he says he was won over by Winthrop’s earnest embrace of two magic words: American made. “If you live here, and have been in this business and have seen what has happened to it,” Page says, “when you hear those words, you have to be interested.” Over his 40 years in textiles, the once-powerful local industry has contracted dramatically, as many factories closed or moved overseas. Since joining forces with American Giant, the Ashbys’ company is prospering—and expanding and upgrading to keep pace.

Winthrop says the numbers work on his end, too. Though finely made, American Giant’s most expensive hoodie costs $89, a middle-market price. (A Gap hoodie costs $50, and one from fashion designer John Varvatos goes up to $398.) He estimates that it costs about $38 to manufacture, and could be made around $7 cheaper in Asia. He saves a little money by using American fabric. Though American labor is still more expensive, tariffs and rising costs in India and China have made domestic ­manufacturing more competitive, a trend that has allowed the American textile industry to rebound modestly. American Giant isn’t the only manufacturer who has noticed; one Chinese yarn-maker is even opening a plant in South Carolina.

American Giant offsets the costs of domestic manufacturing in a number of ways. The Internet doesn’t just offer a sales-and-distribution platform, Winthrop argues, but the opportunity to forge fresh relationships between brands and consumers. He says successful brands of the future will be “humanizers,” who instead of growth put “love at their core,” a concept he illustrates in his book with a big pink heart.

He tightly manages inventory, another major apparel-industry cost. Instead of churning out many seasonal styles, some of which inevitably end up on the clearance rack, the company limits its product lines to a relative handful of garments with perennial appeal.

Most notably, perhaps, Winthrop forgoes advertising. He’s quick to criticize his competitors who he says waste a lot of money on marketing, paying for things that don’t benefit the consumer, like Super Bowl ads, while chipping away at the quality of their products. Winthrop says workmanship should sell itself.

Of course, Winthrop’s critique of marketing is itself marketing. While it doesn’t buy ads, American Giant puts a great deal of effort into spreading the word through social networks, cultivating relationships with celebrities such as Bruce Willis and Michael Rapaport. (Although American Giant introduced a women’s line in 2013, it is still very much about the bros.) Sometimes this can work too well: “We’re living in a time when one tweet from Ashton Kutcher means thousands of American Giant sweatshirts that I wasn’t expecting to sell,” Winthrop says. (To be clear, that hasn’t happened—yet.)

It’s a far different model from traditional brick-and-mortar brands, which can get bogged down by poor quality, bloated seasonal lines, and excessive ad budgets—all of which Winthrop calls a “death spiral of bad choices” in his book. After we finish up with the Ashbys, Winthrop and I drive a couple of hours north to see the factory where his fabric is cut and sewn into clothing. On the outskirts of Raleigh, we pass a mall anchored by Belk, a department store chain. “Belk’s—how much longer are they going to be around?” Winthrop wonders aloud. “Barnes and Noble? See you later. Best Buy? See you later.”


To consumers, American Giant may look like an e-commerce company, but on the back end it’s a traditional manufacturer: Every click of the buy button means more fabric, more stitching, and more work in the one-stoplight town of Middlesex, North Carolina. “Two years ago, it was fucking downtrodden,” Winthrop says as we drive past double-wides and wood-frame houses with collapsed porches. On the roadside in front of Eagle Sportswear, however, there’s a sign that reads we’re growing, seeking “experienced sewing machine operators.” Every parking space outside the corrugated metal factory building is filled; we find a spot in the new overflow lot next door.

“When you run out of parking spots, you really know something good is going on,” says Brian Morrell, the company’s thin, bespectacled general manager. Inside the factory, rows of women, mostly black or Latina, work amid piles of sleeves, hoods, panels, and pockets. Sewing an American Giant sweatshirt involves 30 separate steps, maybe three or four times as many as a mass-market competitor might require. “In our business,” Morrell explains, “every stitch, every line, every seam is money.”

Morrell comes from a sweatshirt family— his father was the director of manufacturing at Champion—and he tells me that for the past couple of decades, he only had to answer one type of question from clothing brands. “This stitch, this detail: Is this needed, and why?” he says. “How can we increase the margins and keep the prices the same?”

Like the Ashbys, Morrell didn’t quite know what to make of Winthrop when he first walked through the door. “I looked at the product and loved the product and said, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ ” he recalls. Morrell didn’t think there was any way American Giant could possibly turn a profit. But Winthrop is a convincing pitchman. “This is a very different approach,” Morrell says. “It’s really kind of a change of the DNA.”

The main reason it costs more to make a hoodie in America than in Asia is hourly wages. Every stitch is money because every stitch takes time. To save time without sacrificing stitches, Winthrop has been pressing for greater efficiency in the manufacturing process. This not only saves on production costs but also will allow him to better control his inventory, so he can respond nimbly to events like Acts of Kutcher and better manage the growing demand for his merchandise. So American Giant recently brought in an outside consultant to help Morrell’s factory institute a concept called Team Sew.

Traditional garment manufacturing works like this: A worker sits at a sewing machine all day long, making the same seam over and over. When she fills up a bin, someone comes along and moves the batch to the next seamstress, who adds on her piece, a process that continues until the garments are complete. Because some operations take more time than others—and people work at different paces—garments naturally tend to pile up. Seamstresses spend roughly 80% of their time performing tasks other than stitching.

In the Team Sew approach, adapted from Toyota’s manufacturing process, the seamstresses work on their feet, performing multiple operations and collaborating on the fly. “This is like an elegant dance,” Winthrop says. Actually, a more apt Tarheel metaphor came to my mind: If the old system looked like basketball’s four-corners offense, plodding and methodical, Team Sew resembles Phil Jackson’s fluid triangle system. The seamstresses, wearing beige American Giant branded aprons, move along a horseshoe-shaped bank of workstations, seemingly in constant motion. When one falls behind on an operation, a teammate comes over to help her catch up. Above the team, a scoreboard displays how many items they complete and how that compares to efficiency targets.

Team Sew is still in the implementation phase; most of the workers in the factory when Winthrop and I visit are still using the old approach. But Morrell says that the results have been encouraging: Each worker produced roughly 60% more than before, and some of the factory’s savings have gone back into performance bonuses.

Morrell confesses that he wasn’t sure how Team Sew would go over at the factory. A kinetic eight-hour shift is exhausting, and a consultant hired to institute the change tells me that it takes workers three weeks to adapt to working on their feet. But with the bonuses, Winthrop says Team Sew workers are “now averaging north of $13 an hour,” almost twice North Carolina’s minimum wage of $7.25. Morrell says there are plenty of new volunteers for training. “Everybody who reads the news,” he says, “knows that change has to happen for us to survive.”


At the end of a Team Sew assembly line, worker Adela Villa performs the last step in manufacturing a gray American Giant hoodie. She uses a metal rod to insert the drawstring, and does a final inspection, trimming errant threads with a tiny pair of scissors. Then she folds the finished product and places it in a plastic bag for shipping.

A few weeks earlier, I had received an identical sweatshirt in the mail. Without knowing the story behind its design, or the complex mechanics of its construction, I opened it up and tried it on. It fit. Since then, I’ve had similar success with American Giant T-shirts and polo shirts. Amazingly, my wife even complimented the cut of a pair of American Giant sweatpants. I’m not a locavore. I’m not a foe of globalization. I’ve never known where my clothes come from, and I don’t really care. I just like things that look good and feel good on my body.

There’s a definite gloss of salesmanship to Winthrop’s “made in America” talk. It’d be easy to be cynical if not for this undeniable fact: American Giant delivers the goods. Like most everyone else Winthrop encountered along his supply chain, I approached the world’s greatest hoodie skeptically. But American Giant sold me on the merits.

“If you can do that,” Winthrop tells me as we drive through rural North Carolina, “you can build a brand that can put a bull’s-eye on Levi’s.”

American Giant Production Process

[Photos: McNair Evans]

25
Feb
15

BBC News – Made in America: Are outsourced jobs really coming back?

BBC News – Made in America: Are outsourced jobs really coming back?.

Where can you find new stories about “Made in America”? Once in a while David Muir and Diane Sawyer will run a segment on ABC World News. But did you know that the BBC World News does a regular segment on Made in America? It is called Talking Business with Linda Yueh.

Is it a renaissance of the US economy? Could cheap energy, rising overseas wages, and American innovation combine to revive manufacturing? Talking Business travels to the surprising new hub for the auto industry, Tennesee, to find out.

Made in America: Are Outsourced Jobs Really Coming Back?

15 February 2015  from BBC World News (For the 3 min 14 second video about Eufala, AL factory closure, click the link)

Decades of outsourcing of American jobs overseas has drastically altered both the country’s economy and the lives of millions. Cheaper labour in developing nations meant that many jobs, like telecommunications and factory work, were sent abroad. In 2003, 150,000 jobs went overseas, and only 2,000 came back.

Once-proud manufacturing centres in countless American towns are now empty, and the workers forced to find new jobs. But is the tide turning?

The BBC’s Natalia Antelava investigates an emerging trend that sees companies bringing the jobs they have outsourced back to the US.

Filmed and edited by David Botti

For more on the BBC’s A Richer World season go to www.bbc.com/richerworld

23
Feb
15

Movie: Factory Boss (Da Gong Lao Ban) – Cinequest

Cinequest – Factory Boss (Da Gong Lao Ban).

Cinequest 2015 in San Jose is celebrating its 25th anniversary of showcasing small independent films. This year Cinequest is presenting Da Gong Lao Ban which is translated into English as “Factory Boss”., which is quite relevant to the “Made in USA” movement.

Factory Boss

Factory Boss

“Made in China” is not just a label.

Synopsis: To survive in a receding business, Lin Dalin, director of a toy factory in Shenzen, desperately accepts an order from an American conglomerate with almost no profit margin. Cutting corners on worker safety, far behind with employees’ wages, and exposed by an undercover journalist, Lin’s actions bring the enterprise closer and closer to the brink of ruin. Both shocking and inspiring, Zhang Wei’s Factory Boss is a searing and realistic depiction of sweatshop mass production work in China, presenting all facets of a system where everyone – the bosses, the workers, and the consumers – is equally responsible. Garnering the Best Actor Award at the Montreal World Film Festival for Yao Anlian, it’s a must see for anyone who has ever purchased or used anything marked “Made in China”. – Liva Petersone

Show times for Cinequest showtimes are: Thursday, February 26, 2015 6:45pm; Saturday, February 28, 2015 7:30pm; and Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at 5pm all at Camera 12.

———————————————————————————————————————————–

There is another article written by the L.A. Times about the movie “Factory Bosses” called:

China Entrepreneur Turns to Film To Take On Social Issues

At first blush, Zhang Wei hardly seems like the kind of guy who cares about the social justice issues of the factory floor.

Five Harley-Davidson choppers gleam in the sun in the driveway of his mansion in Beijing’s exclusive Silver Lake Villas neighborhood. (He says he first fell in love with the bikes on Sunset Boulevard.) Inside, the Chinese entrepreneur is showing off his extensive collection of whiskeys from around the world.

“Do you want to try some Macallan, 17-year?” says Zhang, 49, pulling out a personalized bottle from one of the dozens of cabinets stretching from floor to ceiling along a long corridor. “Look, it’s got my name on the label!”

Zhang moves to the dining room, surveying a Lazy Susan table laden with lunch dishes his staff has prepared. “All organic — from my garden outside,” he says, pointing at some vegetables. When a visitor jokingly asks whether the pork is homegrown too, Zhang leaps up and throws open the patio door. “Piggy!” he calls. A black pig comes oinking up the back steps, disturbing a pen of ducks and chickens nearby.

A onetime migrant worker from Hunan province who amassed millions making video intercom doorbell systems in the southern city of Shenzhen, Zhang clearly enjoys the trappings of his wealth. But, it turns out, he’s also the creative force behind an unusual new film about Chinese sweatshops.

Although the exploitation of Chinese assembly line workers has been making headlines for years, it’s a sensitive subject that’s rarely been touched on by China’s filmmakers. Zhang has changed that by directing and producing “Factory Boss,” a drama that sometimes feels more like a documentary.

It would be easy, of course, to make a moralizing movie about the toiling masses and their greedy capitalist overlords. Zhang’s film takes a risky but ultimately effective tack: humanizing the boss.

Chinese director Zhang Wei

“I wanted to include different characters, different groups — the workers, society, the media, but most of all, the boss,” Zhang says from behind a massive desk in his home office where he now pursues his second career: movies.

Bounding up to a bookshelf stacked with news clippings, Zhang pulls out a file of articles about conditions at Foxconn factories in China that produce iPhones, and a spate of suicides among employees there — research for the film.

“I thought, if workers are killing themselves, bosses one day will too,” says Zhang, who first conceived of the movie in 2006, the year he sold his company and started studying filmmaking. “They’re facing intense problems and pressures.”

::

“Factory Boss” was shot in Zhang’s old Shenzhen stomping grounds, and he leveraged his connections there, asking factory owner friends for filming locations and even recruiting their employees as extras.

The plot revolves around the owner of a toy company in Shenzhen (played convincingly by Yao Anlian) who struggles to hold his business and himself together as he comes under intense pressure from local competitors, his foreign client, his workers, the media, officials and even his family.

Starved for orders after the global economic crisis, the boss is in fierce competition with other Chinese factory owners to land a contract for Barbie-type figures from a U.S. company. Though the profit margin is razor-thin, he takes the deal, hoping to put his employees back to work and move a step closer to his dream of creating his own line of dolls.

“The boss is a victim, just as the people who work for him are victims,” says Serge Losique, president of the Montreal World Film Festival, where the film recently premiered. “The script is good and it’s a very, very modern film. Everyone is talking about cheap labor in China these days and how that affects the entire world.”

Zhang claims that the film is not autobiographical. “The only thing we have in common is we’re both bosses,” he says of the lead character. But like the movie’s protagonist, he seems to live a rather solitary bachelor lifestyle and has an adult child overseas he mentions only in passing. “I rarely leave the house,” he says.

A rough-hewn man with a gravelly voice that goes a mile a minute, Zhang has plenty to keep him occupied at home. He typically reads in the morning and works on scripts in the afternoon. Dressed casually in a red T-shirt and camouflage shorts embroidered with a sombrero-wearing skull, he pads around his library, showing off thousands of DVDs and books.

French writer Honore de Balzac and directors Martin Scorsese and Oliver Stone are inspirations, Zhang says. “I love ‘Nixon.’ And ‘JFK.’ Oliver Stone — he dares to criticize! Of course this doesn’t affect him, but we must be careful.”

“Factory Boss” was narrowly approved by Chinese censors, but whether it can find an audience at home remains to be seen. In China’s booming but still-developing movie market, there is little room for a socially conscious film by an unknown director.

“A lot of cinemas do not want to show these films because they think the audience won’t come,” Zhang says.

Shenzhen’s government has agreed to help promote the film, but so far there are plans for only limited showings in Guangdong province.

“In Shenzhen, I’m somebody; I can get stuff done,” Zhang says. “In Beijing, I’m a nobody.”

::

Zhang is among a new cohort of Chinese directors who are trying their hand at filmmaking in middle age after successful careers in other industries. Eager to make some extra income off students who often have more money than talent, numerous film schools now offer “boss classes” for these Johnny-come-latelys.

“There are many of these ‘boss’ types getting into movies these days. Some want to make money with films, and others want to get themselves or their businesses featured in movies,” says Li Xun, a researcher at the China Film Archive, a research and preservation center for film.

“But Zhang is a different breed: He’s got a real passion for film and his ideals. His works are art films. If you put them in the Chinese market, they’re not going to make much money.”

Zhang took lessons at the prestigious Beijing Film Academy for several years after selling his business. “Factory Boss” is his third movie as a director and carries on a concern for social issues seen in his first two works.

“Beijing Dream” (2010) centered on a Nigerian student who despite speaking Mandarin struggles to find his place in China’s capital after graduating from college. “Shadow Monologue” (2011) told the story of a practitioner of traditional puppetry trying to keep the art form alive.

“My films have many characters who seem trivial, but I try to reflect the humanity in everyone,” says Zhang. A fifth-generation Christian who keeps a cross on his mantel and whose main staircase is decorated with religious-themed art, including a crucifixion scene, he says his faith has a significant influence on his moviemaking.

Lutz Reitemeier, a German cinematographer who shot “Factory Boss,” says Zhang “is interested in the changes in Chinese society — the tension between the past and modernity and the provincial life and urbanization — and what it means for people.”

Zhang says he was able to sell “Beijing Dream” and “Shadow Monologue” to the state-run movie channel for modest sums, but on the whole his self-bankrolled movie career has been a money-losing affair. He seems less concerned with achieving commercial success or recognition, though, than moving on to his next projects.

He has plans for one film about an autistic youth and another about a group of Tibetan blind singers. Another idea revolves around a man who feels that maybe he should have been born a woman.

“I want to do stories that others won’t do,” Zhang says. “Once I’m done with a film, I want to move on to the next one. I’ve started working on films only in middle age and I want to make as many as I can.”

Nicole Liu of The Times’ Beijing bureau contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

Editor’s Comment

It is amazing that this film was approved by the Chinese government, maybe because it was “fictional.” But, this story is the sad case of our “Race to the Bottom” – the cheapest at any price philosophy that drives American consumers and American businesses. -Jack A.

18
Feb
15

A Look Inside The Fuyao Glass Factory—And Why Chinese Companies Are Coming To The U.S. | WYSO

A Look Inside The Fuyao Glass Factory—And Why Chinese Companies Are Coming To The U.S. | WYSO.

A Look Inside The Fuyao Glass Factory – And Why Chinese Companies Are Coming To The USA

Feb 12, 2015

Work has started on Fuyao Glass America, the Chinese company taking up residence in the former G.M. Moraine plant south of Dayton.

Of course, all the news about Fuyao’s investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in a Dayton factory comes after years of stories about U.S. companies opening up shop in China.

You’ve heard the story before—U.S. factories move to China, jobs are lost, whole towns shattered. But lately, things are shifting: Chinese ventures in the U.S. have spiked.

In 2014, Chinese companies invested more than 12 billion dollars in projects in the U.S., including a handful of big investments in manufacturing. That’s up from about zero in the mid-2000s.

This shift is obvious in Dayton, where a Chinese auto glass maker is taking over a notorious former G.M. plant., a cavernous building that was left behind when G.M. closed up manufacturing operations at its Moraine plant in 2008. Fuyao Glass America Inc., a new subsidiary of one of China’s biggest auto-glass makers, bought up almost half of the old plant about a year ago and announced it would be bringing manufacturing operations and 800 jobs to the area. Recently the number of jobs promised nearly doubled, to over 1500.

Rebecca Ruan-O’Shaughnessy, one of the first employees of Fuyao Glass America, says they got the keys to the giant maze of a building in July.

“We didn’t know where to come in,” she says. “We just see this big building had no idea how to get in.”

Just a few years ago Dayton’s economy was in shards, and the G.M. Moraine plant stood as a sometimes painful symbol of the past. Now, a mix of Chinese and American workers are set up at tables and chairs Fuyao scrapped from G.M.’s leftovers.

John Gauthier, president of Fuyao Glass America, gestures towards a chart of leadership positions still to be filled at the company.

John Gauthier, president of Fuyao Glass America, gestures towards a chart of leadership positions still to be filled at the company.
Credit Lewis Wallace / WYSO

Ruan-O’Shaughnessy opens the door to a classroom of dozens of attentive workers in safety vests—it’s the first day for the first 40 production workers, who were hired through a temp agency. She says the company’s already had 1800 applications just for temp jobs here that could turn into permanent, full-time jobs with benefits after 90 days.

Sitting in a bare office, John Gauthier, the president of Fuyao Glass America, says the symbolism is clear: the Recession is in the rearview for this company town.

“It means something to us here, to be able to come here and reoccupy this [and] bring this factory back to life,” Gauthier says. He moved from Mt. Zion, Illinois, where he was the manager of a glass plant that’s also been acquired by Fuyao and will remain open as a supplier to this plant.

Gauthier says entry-level workers can expect to be paid in the range of $12 to $14 an hour, which he says is similar to prevailing wages for area manufacturers, although he wouldn’t offer up a specific figure. Past experience in the auto industry is helpful for applicants, but isn’t required.

But this Midwestern story also reflects a trend: Chinese companies are opening up shops from Texas to Indiana, with more on the way. Experts say that’s partly because wages are on the rise in China, but in the U.S., real wages for manufacturing workers have been in steady decline, particularly in the case of auto parts workers. In Ohio, auto parts workers saw a wage decline of 9.4 percent from 2003 to 2013.

Thilo Hanemann is the research director at the Rhodium Group, a research firm in New York. He says China is also less dependent on cheap labor in general.

“The growth model in China is changing very rapidly and so companies are moving from low value-added goods, socks and underwear, towards more advanced goods and services,” he says.

Mike Fullenkamp, a supervisor at the plant, says he’s been looking forward to Fuyao coming to town ever since the announcement over a year ago.
Credit Lewis Wallace / WYSO

So Chinese companies need more of the kinds of skilled labor available in the U.S. Plus, they want to be close to their customers—in this case, U.S. automakers. Between that and changes in U.S. and Chinese policy, companies like Fuyao calculate they can actually cut costs in the long-run by setting up here.

Mike Fullenkamp, a supervisor at Fuyao, says he loves what he’s heard about the head of the company, Chairman Cao. He’s got a reputation as a charitable guy.

“He’s very positive, very humble,” he says. “I mean he’s a man of wealth, but he earned it himself.”

The state of Ohio offered close to $14 million in grants and tax incentives to get the company here. The total number of jobs could top 1500, and Sinclair Community College is partnering with the company to recruit workers for the positions.

The new entry planned at the Fuyao Glass Factory will have a glass facade.
Credit Lewis Wallace / WYSO

Fullenkamp takes me outside the plant on a golf cart. He says not long ago, this place looked bad, a parking lot with cracked cement, overgrown with weeds.

“The guards said they used to see a buncha coyotes running across and all that,” he says. “We’ll probably still see that, but we’re trying to tame them down a little bit. Let ‘em know it’s our home now instead of theirs.”

Fullenkamp says the company hopes to have nearly 20 lines up and running, shaping and finishing glass for almost all the major auto makers, by 2018. At five o’clock, the workers on their first day file out to their trucks and SUVs and drive off—looking ahead through glass that could, soon enough, be made in Dayton.

Lewis Wallace is WYSO’s managing editor, substitute host and economics reporter. Follow him @lewispants.

Editor’s Conclusion

As American owned corporations continue to outsource American jobs for their own individual prosperity, it appears that China, which will become the world’s number one economy next year, has its eyes on making money using American workers. Irony is not dead. It is the changing of the guard. Thanks to the  Alliance for American Manufacturing for highlighting this story.

12
Feb
15

Will You Be My American-Made Valentine? | Alliance for American Manufacturing

Instead of the usual clothingmadeinusablog entry about clothing for Valentine’s Day which usually means sexy lingerie and thongs for the women and really nothing for the men, maybe boxers with hearts on them, I will skip the misogynistic subject of lingerie and thongs for a later time and instead present to you a post from the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a group dedicated to increasing manufacturing in the USA.

Will You Be My American-Made Valentine? | Alliance for American Manufacturing. Written by Ryan Lombardozzi on February 9, 2015.

valentines

Tips for making your Valentine’s Day celebration a little more American.

Whether you’ve been planning the perfect Valentine’s Day surprise since Feb. 15 last year — or you’re telling yourself that you won’t mess up another Valentine’s Day this time around — Feb. 14 always seems to sneak up on you faster than you realize.

But never fear: Scrambling to find the perfect Valentine’s Day gift couldn’t be easier with our American-made options to help you plan a one-of-a-kind day for your loved one.

Candy

Valentine’s Day isn’t Valentine’s Day without that never ending supply of Sweethearts candies that seem to last all year (or a heart-shaped box of chocolates that are devoured by the next morning).

Equinox Champagne Chocolates

When one thinks of candy, your first thoughts wander to the titan of candy, Hershey’s, which makes Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Kit Kat Bars, Twizzlers, Rolos, Almond Joys and several other American-made candies produced at its factories in the United States. And Sweethearts? The tasty treats are made in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Correction: all Hershey’s products are made in Mexico – Ed.)

Of course, there are the also the much-sought-after Ghirardelli Chocolates, as well as Equinox Champagne Chocolates from Chocolate Visions. Both savory delights are Made in America, offering quality chocolate to sink your teeth into.

Looking for additional candy ideas? Check out these union-made candies.

Jewelry

Jewelry is a gift that has meaning, holding to it a memory that won’t be forgot for decades to come.

Avery Remembrance Ring

So why not take a look at the stunning Avery Remembrance Ring with Ruby from James Avery Jewelers, designed and produced in Texas.

Twig and Gemstone with Pigeon River Stones Collection

 If the cliché hearts and ruby red pieces aren’t your thing, that’s fine. Janow Metalsmithing offers semi-precious gems and stones in their Twig and Gemstone with Pigeon River Stones Collection, made in Asheville, North Carolina.

Flowers

One of the most iconic ways to say I Love You is through flowers. Whether it’s a single rose, bouquet of roses or another floral alternative with a special meaning behind it, flowers are a must on Valentine’s Day.

And while it might seem a little cliché, flowers always make an impression. As one of our friends put it: “Flowers to me are a romantic and thoughtful gesture that symbolize doing something nice for the person they love.”

Everybody now: Awwww.

While Made in America flowers seem like they would be easy to find, be sure to do your research when you visit your neighborhood florist or flower shop — you might be surprised what’s imported. Make an effort to find out where they are from and purchase domestically-grown flowers, such as the long-stem rose from the California Cut Flower Commission.

Sparkling Wine

While Champagne has to be produced in the region of Champagne, France, to technically be called Champagne, America produces plenty great sparkling wines.

2003 Domaine Chandon Etoile Tete de Cuvee

The Gayot guide to the good life lists the 2003 Domaine Chandon Étoile Tête de Cuvée as the top American sparkling wine in its top 10 feature. Produced in California, the Étoile Tête de Cuvée offers “a rich and complex offering with aromas of honey and toasted hazelnut balanced by delicate flavors of nectarine and candied ginger.”

Don Morton, AAM’s resident wine expert, also recommends:

Check out more American-made sparkling wines in the Gayot Guide to Top 10 American Sparkling Wines

Have a fabulous Valentine’s Day!

10
Feb
15

Bathrobes Made in USA

Wintertime is a great time to find clothing that keeps you warm and snuggly. And one of those items that fits this description are luxury bathrobes. For the past couple of years I have been trying to find all types of garments made in the USA. But the one item that had continuously eluded me was bathrobes made in the USA. And to my surprise I found two different companies (on the same day) that make bathrobes made in the USA, Tourance and Giraffe at Home. I found these both at a nice little shop in the Sonoma (CA) town square called Sonoma Home.

Tourance for Grown Ups | Product Categories | Tourance.com.

Tourance is one of the few companies in the United States that makes bathrobes. They are very luxurious, soft and heavenly. Tourance also makes pillows, throws, scarves, vests and some children’s apparel.

Tourance Lux Caressa Robe in Cream

Tourance Lux Caressa Robe in Cream

Tourance

 Tourance is all about the soft, the sumptuous, the luscious and the lavish.

Tourance promises to bring the softest blankets on Earth to your little ones as well as your whole family and friends. With a heavenly texture that falls somewhere between flower petals, fine down, luscious faux fur, are irresistibly luxurious and yet so stylish and easy to wash you can can take an outing to the park or stroll down the hill.

We carefully choose our fabric that is not only sumptuously soft on your hand but its stylish designs will make our blankets and throws a focal point of your living room and a compliment to your well dressed bed or a special gift to friends and family that they won’t stop talking about.

Our products come in variety of textures like our signature Rosebud, Channel and Ziza. We also bring you elegant designs like Fleur de Lys, Paisley. We also feature premium faux fur and faux pelt textures like Chinchilla, Rabbit.

And yet, don’t forget our glamour accessories for yourself such as scarves and robes which are great for traveling or relaxing at home.

All of our products are made in the US as our commitment to excellent quality. We are also striving to provide outstanding service to make sure you are completely happy with our products

Giraffe at Home

Giraffe at Home makes bathrobes, blankets and throws. They can be found at Nordstroms and sometimes Bloomingdales as well as some small shops like Sonoma Home or onlinke like at blankets.com. (Blankets.com also has a special Made in USA section for throw blankets or blankets made for hanging on walls.)

Giraffe at Home Stretch Chenille Robe

Giraffe at Home Stretch Chenille Robe

Other Makers Of Bathrobes Made in USA Worth Checking Out

Telegraph Hill makes robes made in San Francisco. Telegraph Hill has a nice assortment of fine looking robes and kimono type robes.

Taupe Seersucker Double Robe by Telegraph Hill

Taupe Seersucker Double Robe by Telegraph Hill

Robeworks.com is an online site that specializes in robes all made in the USA. Robeworks.com makes different types of robes: luxurious, hooded, shawl, spa wraps, and even a bridal collection with monograms. Made for both men and women.

LJ500 Luxury Hooded Bathrobe by Robeworks

LJ500 Luxury Hooded Bathrobe by Robeworks

Simplepleasuressleepwear.com makes many robes, pajamas and sleepwear for women – all made in the USA.

Softersilk.com offers robes in eight different types for women, all made in the USA.

Wittmantextiles.com makes pajamas, robes for both men and women, all made in USA.

Elizabeth Cotton is a New York City company that makes pajamas and robes at brandnewusa.com.

Karenluuhomecouture.com makes luxurious robes and pajamas in San Francisco.

 

Other Makersof Bathrobes Made in USA

Allusaclothing.com offers a fleece robe, made in the USA of course.

Canyongroup.com makes whimsical bathrobes all made in the USA.

Bedhead makes pajamas and occasionally a robe or two, they can be found at usab2c.com.

Ohsayusa.com offers a Kimono type bathrobe.

Acme Linens makes a luxurious bathrobes for hotels, made in the USA.

Pendleton Woolen Mills makes a classic men’s woolen bathrobe made in USA.

I had found a bathrobe made in the USA with the brand name, Wrap Up, however, I had not been able to find anybody who carries this or where to purchase them. (I found it at The Aria Hotel in Las Vegas).

 

 




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