Archive for the 'Introduction' Category

26
Sep
11

Shopping: My Personal Thoughts on it

Some people like shopping, some people love shopping, and some see shopping as a necessary evil. Some see shopping as a total waste of time and hate to ever shop. To those in this last category – this article is not for you as you have deferred to have all your shopping and purchasing power to a devoted loved one or you have never left the cave. Me? I am one that likes to shop. I have to be “in the mood”. When one is forced to shop, like when it is part of a job, then it may not be a very pleasant experience. And trying on clothes is not always enjoyable. The dressing rooms can be busy, they can be messy, smelly and sometimes – even dangerous – I mean not life threatening – but have you seen all those numerous sharp metal pins on the bench, the floor, or even in the clothes. I mean they can put out an eye – well highly unlikely, maybe I am exaggerating a little, but you can definitely get stuck. It is surprising that we haven’t heard more about ‘Changing Room’s Revenge’  – being impaled by a stick pin (it is a famous syndrome which I just made up).

Another problem with changing rooms, is one has to change directly in front of a mirror. The full body mirror is the chief nemesis of “Cathy” of comic strip fame. Women, when looking at the changing room mirror, look at everything, at all parts, from all angles. But, men, in the dressing room, in front of the mirror, the method and focus is different. Men tend to look at one thing. Yes, that’s right. Ladies, you know what I am talking about, we are looking at…the gut. Once, you take off the shirt, it is obvious, it is right there. And whether you are wearing pants or shorts, no matter, the waistband lifts up the fat from the sides and makes it look three times larger than the unsightly blob it actually is. I’d much rather look at myself with nothing on at all (that’s right – naked), than with just a pair of pants on, because the gut looks more normal.  They talk about a muffin top, but I think it is does not adequately describe this phenomenon. I think it is more like a tremendously large scoop of ice cream crammed into a too small sugar cone – the Baskin-Robbins effect.

I had a thought: if I didn’t wear clothes around the house and put up lots of mirrors, then I would always see that unwanted protruding stomach. And, out in public, I could be one of those people that wears bright colored Spandex shorts and one of those too short T-shirts that leaves the midriff bare. This would give me the motivation to eat correctly and exercise. But, I am not one of those people that can wear that stuff. And I am too old for that look. ( I define old as anybody that is older than myself [with the exception of my wife]). I do realize that my plan of short term motivation will stall and is doomed to eventual and inevitable failure. I know that after a few weeks, instead of being motivated, I will be more disgusted by my unchanging shape. So, I would paper over all the mirrors and put on a muu-muu.

I just had a novel idea, maybe one of enlightenment. We have always been taught that clothes were developed for warmth and protection against the elements. But, how about this – clothes were invented by older people  to hide their lumps and bumps, because they could no longer compete with younger hardbodies. Then, they invented fashion, so they could show off their riches and demonstrate that they could provide for their families. Just a thought.

So, where were we? Oh, yes, the dressing room. So, anyway, I go into the dressing room. I change in front of the mirror to see my unwanted plumpiness over and over again, just to make sure the clothes fit just right. It is too bad there is no acceptance of Spanx for men (they are available – check out Nordstrom’s) or the return of those high rise pants that went right up to the rib cage that once were popular in the 1970’s. Maybe they can develop a software program that accurately puts your computer replica of the clothes onto the computer generated simulation of your body. Then maybe they can then eliminate the dressing room altogether. Now that would make shopping more pleasant.

“The leading cause of death among fashion models is falling through street grates.” – Dave Barry

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19
Sep
11

How to Identify American Clothes/Find the Label

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

17
Sep
11

Why I got started looking for American clothes – the real reasons

Continue reading ‘Why I got started looking for American clothes – the real reasons’

15
Sep
11

Why I got started looking for American made clothes – The Dream

Why did I get interested in blogging about finding clothes made in America? Well, there are several reasons, some practical, but in this post I am saying that maybe I was influence by “The Dream”.

The Dream starts this way:

Upon Mount Olympus was I summoned.  As my calendar was open that day, I went. There I was, in front of the omnipotent one, God to all of the Gods, Zeus. He spoke to me (in Greek): “I have sent you here, mortal man, to listen and to understand the task that you are about to undertake. To demonstrate your worthiness as an adventurer and to demonstrate that all is not lost, I set upon you a definite hardship. You, without the help of others, will change your entire wardrobe over the next two to three years and remove all old clothing, sandal, shoes and accompaniments, produced by sweat toiling slaves and replace them with the fruits of the clothing laborers who have been adequately compensated for their troubles.”

And I replied: (in Greek as well) “No disrespect but What?!! Have you been in a coma for over two thousand years? All clothing is mass produced in Asia. There is nowhere in the United States, Canada, or Western Europe that manufactures anymore. Your task is too great, it is undoable. Who do you think I am, Heracles? (In Greek, it’s Heracles, in Latin, it’s Hercules). Is there another smaller task I can do, like bringing you a piping hot cappuccino from Starbucks?” The Great One glowered my way, maybe he was contemplating of reaching for one of his deadly Thunderbolts to strike me down, when he commanded: “This is your task, now leave.”

And soon he was gone. The mist and the clouds separated, and there I was on top of Mount Olympus by myself. But, thinking back, just a couple of hours ago, I was at home. Maybe it was just a dream. But then, here I was on top of a mountain, without my hiking shoes or canteen. Something indeed was funny, but not to me. I still had a long trek down the mountainside, and it was going to get dark soon. And, now, I had this new task to complete. Just down the mountain, and then 240 miles to Athens, one step at a time.

I arrived in Athens via bus ( I am no dummy). Athens is so different than anything in the U.S. There are no chain stores out here, just a bunch of mom and pop shops. Traffic is crazy, in between all the cars are mopeds zigging in and out and turning down pedestrian walkways, that double as streets. Also, near the touristy areas are areas under excavation that date back thousands of years, quite interesting. As far as shopping goes, there was plenty of Asian made clothes. In the higher end stores, Asian-made clothing was the majority, but there was some Italian clothing, but very expensive. I did not find any American made clothes. But I did find some Greek made shirts. I think Greece has done the same thing as the U.S. – lost most of its manufacturing, which is too bad. Maybe it is one of the reasons why they may be in financial collapse.  But, at least, they have kept their character, and not defaced their city with the same looking chain stores-strip malls that dot every city and suburb in America. The next morning, I take the long flight back to California and I wake up from the dream, with a couple of Greek shirts in my suitcase.

“Fashion is in a terrible state. An overdose of too much flesh.” – Geoffrey Beene

14
Sep
11

How to start shopping for U.S. Clothes

You may ask yourself, “Self, where can you find American made clothes?”  It is like a treasure hunt. I call it a quest. There a millions of items of clothes, and 98% of it is not made here. And then once you find these rarities then what? Just like in normal shopping, many questions need to be answered like: Do I like it? Does it fit? How about the price? To help you get started, you may want to use this blog to help find retail stores that are more likely to sell U.S. made clothing. And if you know any of these places yourself, if you could please share that information with us, we would be so very grateful. Or you can start like I did, and many others before me which is to “Random Shop”.

There are numerous types of shopping, bored shopping, pity shopping, social shopping, and wasting time shopping, etc. But when it comes to trying to find U.S. clothes to buy, I would classify shopping into the following types: Random – going to the usual stores, no specific items to look for, looking for something new or interesting or something at a very good price; Semi-Random – As above but going to places that have more U.S. inventory; Specific clothing directed: Looking for a certain type of clothing, shoes or accessories; Internet Directed shopping – Finding U.S. made clothes and using the directions to find the retail stores; Internet Shopping – finding U.S. Clothes and purchasing them on-line. I would recommend a combination of Specific clothing directed and Internet Directed shopping. I have a personal bias against Internet shopping because: 1)sizes are not always the same from company to company (and sometimes within the same company); 2) the picture does not do justice to the actual garment – the color or fabric may look nothing like the picture; 3) how does it actually fit? Baggy, Boxy, Too Long, Too short, Cut funny? and 4) the actual company – is it a PO Box?, does it have an actual store? What is the return policy? Are they worthy of trust? Unless you are too far away from an actual store, I would defer buying clothes on the internet – unless you don’t mind returning things. If you are anything like me, and it needs to go back, it, instead, usually sits in the procrastination pile.

Addendum 5/24/2012

On Internet shopping, although I still am a brick and mortar shopper and I do like to try clothes on to see if they fit, I find the Internet may be helpful in locating clothing made in the USA. First, find a department store that carries lots of US made clothes: Nordstroms> Nieman Marcus> Saks Fifth Avenue> Bloomingdales > Barney’s > Bergdorf Goodman, Macy’s, Dillards>>Kohl’s, Walmart,Sears. Go to department store website. Under search: type:”men’s” or “women’s” and “pants” or “blouses” or “underwear”, etc, and “made in usa” and your search will bring up many of the items you may be looking for. Sak’s doesn’t have a “made in usa” search yet.

Getting Started

Before we start, if you are going to take shopping advice from me, you will have to know a little about my shopping habits, and then you can adjust them to your own needs. First, I am a man, so many of my comments are about looking for men’s clothes, but there are times that I specifically will mention ladies fashions/clothes. Second, I live in Northern California which is very urban with many retails stores nearby.  Third, I don’t mind shopping, meaning I don’t live to shop, but then it is not a drudge either. Fourth, I like nicer clothes, since I have gotten a little older. I don’t buy $8 shorts just because it is a bargain. And finally, I love a bargain. I hate to ever pay full retail – probably because I know how much it costs to make the garment, and who doesn’t love a bargain?

So, when I started my quest randomly, I started at the usual places – the discount stores – you know “Designer names at discount prices”  places: Ross, T.J. Maxx, Burlington, and Marshall’s.  I found almost nothing  American made. Thus far,  I have found one long sleeve shirt from Cohesive that I bought, and a young adult type T-shirt by English Laundry which I passed on, both at a Marshall’s. Out of 10 visits – one garment, poor odds. The next step were the Designer Outlet Stores – Polo, J. Crew, Eddie Bauer, Tommy Hilfiger, etc. – nothing.  The next step were the upper end department discount stores: Nordstrom’s Rack; Off Fifth Avenue; and Neiman Marcus Outlet.  Bingo. There is a much better chance of finding American made garments there,  I almost always find something each trip. I will go more into details about  these stores later. In conclusion, my advice would be to skip the cheap discount stores and start at the upper end department discount stores. Plus,  stores like American Apparel, Hlaska, and Mystyq, which we will review later. One tip for men, some of the easiest items that are American -made to find are Hawaiian shirts, socks, and Suit coats.

“Fashion fades, only style remains the same.” – Coco Chanel

11
Sep
11

Welcome – Clothing made in usa blog

Welcome to Clothingmadeinusablog.

Where Can You Find Clothing Made in America Anymore?

This blogs’ purpose is to provide the reader with solid information to help them locate these rare precious gems (American made clothes), primarily in retail stores.  I have included my own personal musings and shopping misadventures as I try to secure myself an All-American wardrobe. Actually, I must confess All-American is not the actual purpose, but a non-slave-like manufacturing process is the real goal. With this in mind – the wardrobe will still be greater than 90% American. Which countries are acceptable you may ask. I would include the following countries: Canada; and the European Union Nations like Italy and Great Britain.

Not so long ago (which is a long time ago for you kids) in the 1960s, the United States manufactured 95% of what it used. Fast forward to today, the U.S. manufactures 5% of what it uses, and probably less than 2% of its clothing. And each month, there are fewer U.S. clothing manufacturers as even the most steadfast ones are closing down factories in the US and opening factories in Central America, Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. The reasons for this will be detailed later in the introductory posts.

But what I can say now is that we no longer make things. We are a country of service people (people who serve). Our  current state of the Union reminds of the book, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Universe”. In the story, there is a world, not ours, that is going to die, and they decide to re-inhabit another planet. They build three great spaceships, and divide the population into three categories: 1) the really smart people, scientists & academics; 2) the hard laborers – the ones that build things, haul things, etc.; and 3) the middle men – management, the telephone sanitizers, etc.  In the story, they send off the first ship of middle men, but the other two ships stay, with no real intention of leaving, as there really was no crises in the first place. To me, we are the country of middle men, all service, we don’t make anything, dependent on others to deliver us the goods we need. It just doesn’t seem like a stable situation and maybe we need to reverse this trend.




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