This post is about identifying American clothes, with a brief discussion about labeling laws, finding the label, and instances of misleading labeling.
In order to find clothes made in the U.S.A., you will need to identify them first. But sometimes this can be a little tricky. Just because it says “America”, “American” or “USA” or has an American Flag on the outside of the garment does not mean it was made in the USA, usually it is quite the opposite. To truly identify if it was made in the United States, you will need to find and read the clothing label. By law, all clothing, whether made by a local handy maker or large clothing manufacturer needs to have a label according to Rules and Regulations under The Textile Fiber Products Identification Act. I will not bore you with all the details, just highlighting the more pertinent ones, such as:
a) Must be in English;
b) Generic names of fibers to be used must be included;
c) Must be in a conspicuous place;
d) Label must be securely attached and writing must be durable;
e) Name of the country where product was processed or manufactured must be listed.
Plus, one more point (303.34): When a textile fiber product (clothing) is advertised in any mail order catalog, or mail order promotional material, the description of such product shall contain a clear and conspicuous statement that the product was made in U.S.A., imported or both.
The problem with the last part is that it might not include Internet sales, but it really should – so be very, very weary when purchasing over the Internet.
Finding The Label
So, first off, to find the label, it depends on the article of clothing. In a shirt, blouse, dress, sports coat, dress coat, outdoor coat, or vest, the label is usually located near the collar, most frequently center upper back, but it also could be upper back on left or right. If it is not there, it may be usually found two-thirds to three-quarters down along the inseam on the left side of the garment (when you are wearing the garment along the line underneath your left armpit going towards the ground). For pants or shorts – the label is near the waistband, front, back or sides, it doesn’t matter. Unusually, you may find it attached to one of the front pockets. Rarely, if you still can’t find it, look up towards the waistband and then separate the pockets from each other, because it can hide there. For socks, the labels are usually printed on the packaging, on the front or back. For underwear, the label is usually on the back along the waistband. For shoes, the labels are usually printed on the underside of the upper tongue of the shoe, but can be along the sides, Sometimes on the inside heel, unusually on the sole. For ties, on the thin part of the tie at the very bottom or on the back side of the fat part of the tie with the name of the designer. For gloves, the labels are just inside of the glove. For hats, the label can be found along the hatband.
Once you have found the label, do not confuse it with the washing instructions. Many times the labels may be in multiple languages, and in very small print. I feel that sometimes the labels are made intentionally to mislead you. You may see a “US”, but that may be part of the wash instructions. Sometimes, “USA” is part of the manufacturer’s name, or that its company headquarters is in the US.
Here are a few examples where the company has directly tried to mislead the customer, namely me:
#1) Trends for Threads – The back of the T-shirt is stamped, as you can scan down, in small print, it says: “US of A”. But upon further scanning, in even smaller print it said, “Made in Pakistan.” I believe that Trends of Threads was trying to say they were based in the US, but I think there was intent to mislead;
#2) Ezekiel – The T-shirt print on the front says; “American Made”, but the label says; “Made in China.” So, exactly was American made – the person wearing the shirt? Seems a bit presumptuous, don’t you think?”
#3) U.S. Polo Association- Jeans with a small American flag near the back pocket. U.S. Polo Association is all made in Asia.
#4) Union Jeans – A pair of shorts, inside says Union Jeans, with another label attached from the inside of the shorts, but coming out to the back of the jeans with a Green Label saying “Seattle Washington”. But the actual inside label says: “Made in China.” I believe they were trying to convey that the central office started in Seattle, I guess.
#5) Websites saying “Clothes made in USA” – numerous examples that may or may not have this. Example: Orvis. I went to the Orvis Store after being directed to the store by the Website. I found in this store (On Santana Row, San Jose, CA) that less than 5% clothes were American made.
Now that you are able to identify clothing made in USA, you still must be vigilant of misleading labeling. If you have trouble reading very small print, do not forget to bring some reading glasses. Happy Hunting.
“It’s fun seeing my label on someone’s behind – I like that.” – Calvin Klein