Posts Tagged ‘clothing

10
May
15

The price is low. The quality is high. So why doesn’t anyone want one of these T-shirts?

The price is low. The quality is high. So why doesn’t anyone want one of these T-shirts?.

The following article was posted on Upworthy. It is an article about the price of Fast Fashion. The above link has the video of the experience.

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When it comes to fashion, most of us are on the lookout for something stylish that doesn’t necessarily break the bank.

And we’re in luck because it seems like fashion just happens to get less expensive by the day.

A $5 T-shirt? Great! A $10 dress? Wonderful! These are the things smart shoppers and bargain-hunters stay on the lookout for.

But have you ever wondered how stores are able to sell clothes so cheap? Like, really thought about it?

To be completely honest, I hadn’t given it much thought. A shirt is a shirt, and the only trip I thought about was from the rack to my closet and not about the journey it took to make its way to the rack.

If I knew what went into making my clothes, I just know I’d be upset.

And it makes me even more upset to think that companies aren’t giving me an affordable option other than to feel guilty about the clothes I buy.

Because sometimes that path involves sweatshops or child labor. Workers sometimes make just pennies an hour and are forced to work long hours in unsafe conditions.

Well, one group is putting the stories of the workers who make the clothes we see on the racks in our favorite department stories front and center, hoping that companies will choose to become more transparent about where their clothes come from.

Fashion Revolution, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing transparency in the fashion industry, recently conducted a social experiment involving a vending machine and some cheap T-shirts.

T-shirts in the vending machine were being sold for just 2€ (roughly $2.25). It was a quality product at an amazing price, so why wasn’t anyone actually buying them?

When picking a size, shoppers were given a digital introduction to the people who made the shirt they were about to buy, along with some details about their working conditions.

A look of shock covered the shoppers’ faces as they learned about the long hours and low pay these people made.

Shoppers were then asked whether they still wanted the shirt. They all decided to donate the money instead.

Suddenly, the shirt that looked like such a great deal had been tainted by the truth behind it. For most of us, we simply don’t know the backstory.

Fashion Revolution’s goal isn’t to shame consumers but to nudge businesses in the right direction.

By making themselves transparent, businesses hold themselves accountable and are more likely to make sure that the working conditions in factories and with suppliers meets the same standards they hold themselves to in public.

 

The group points to an April 2013 incident in which more than 1,100 people died in a Bangladesh garment factory as the driving force behind their push to improve working conditions.

Here’s how they describe the incident (and their goals) on their website.

“On 24 April 2013, 1133 people died in the Rana Plaza catastrophe in Dhaka, Bangladesh. A further 2500 were injured. They were killed while working for familiar fashion brands in one of the many ‘accidents’ that plague the garment industry.

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We want to use the power of fashion to inspire a permanent change in the fashion industry and reconnect the broken links in the supply chain. At the moment of purchase, most of us are unaware of the processes and impacts involved in the creation of a garment. We need to reconnect through a positive narrative, to understand that we aren’t just purchasing a garment or accessory, but a whole chain of value and relationships.

By asking consumers, designers, brands, and all those who care to ask a simple question ‘Who Made My Clothes?’ we envisage a change in perspective that will lead to a deeper understanding.”

You (yes, you) can make a difference, and it’s easier than you might think.

Start by asking brands one very simple question: “Who made my clothes?”

Fashion Revolution breaks it down into a quick, four-step process.

  1. Take a selfie while wearing a brand’s clothes.
  2. Follow the brand on social media.
  3. Post your photo along with the message, “I want to thank the people who made my clothes, (brand). #whomademyclothes?”
  4. Ask others to do the same.

By doing this, we can play a role in holding the industry accountable. Consumers aren’t the cause of the problem, but we can be a big part of the solution.

This isn’t about boycotting brands but helping them become better global citizens. As Carry Somers, the founder of Fashion Revolution Day, told Marie Claire, she’s not asking people to boycott stores. Instead, she believes the industry needs to change from the inside.

And while brands might not be especially interested in hearing criticism from the people within the supply chain, they’re more than willing to listen to consumers. That’s how we can help.

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30
Jan
14

Greenpeace: China-made kids’ clothes carry toxic risk

Greenpeace: China-made kids’ clothes carry toxic risk.

The study, citing laboratory analysis of 85 samples, many concern parents in the USA, as China is the world’s largest garment exporter.

Published in USA Today, December 17, 2013.

BEIJING – Kids’ clothes made in China’s two largest children’s wear production bases contain hazardous chemicals that pose potential health risks for children, says a new report by the environmental group Greenpeace.

The report urges Beijing to cut toxic residue in China-made clothes — many of which are exported to Europe and the USA — by establishing proper chemical management regulations.

The Greenpeace study, citing laboratory analysis of 85 samples, found that some of the clothing made by two garment makers contained NPE, a hormone disrupter, and antimony, a chemical element used in making bullets.

Authorities are not taking action to tackle the problem, said Lee Chih An of Greenpeace East Asia in Beijing.

“We want to put more pressure on the government, to tell them there is urgency for change,” Lee said.

China is the world’s largest garment exporter, and kids’ wear is one of its fastest growing sectors.

The two clothing centers investigated, Zhili town in eastern Zhejiang province, and Shishi city in southern Fujian province, account for 40% of China’s total production of children’s clothing, according to Greenpeace. Shishi exports up to 80% of its output, mostly to the Middle East, but also Africa, Southeast Asia, Europe and North America.

Even the Chinese government’s quality control watchdog agrees that kids’ clothes can be dangerous. The Defective Product Administrative Center of China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision issued a consumer guide to parents in May advising parents to “buy light-color kids’ clothes, without fluorescent brighteners or pigment printing.”

A sample survey by the Beijing Consumer Association in June found 38% of children’s clothes did not meet quality standards.

China’s management of textile chemicals lags the European Union’s by 20 years, said Zhang Miao, a toxics campaigner at Greenpeace. “We can’t say that any brand has zero problems” of toxic residue, she said.

Previous Greenpeace studies exposed larger Chinese and foreign brands; this report focused on small and medium-sized enterprises because they represent the bulk of the industry. Such enterprises supply increasingly popular online businesses such as the Taobao.com retail site, Zhang said.

Some of the tested samples illegally used images of iconic U.S. characters such as Mickey Mouse. The report said third-party, independent laboratories found more than half of the 85 tested samples, all made in Zhili or Shishi, contained NPE and nine in 10 items made of polyester tested positive for antimony.

Phthalates, known for their toxicity to the reproductive system, were found in high concentrations on two samples, according to Greenpeace.

An Yiheng, vice secretary general of the children’s wear committee at the China National Garment Association (CNGA), declined to comment when contacted Tuesday by USA TODAY. The CNGA is a state-run body for China’s clothing industry.

Beijing housewife Zhang Xue, whose daughter is 2½, said she feels “pain in her heart” whenever she reads about toxic children’s clothes in China.

“All I can do now is to wash my daughter’s new clothes many times and put them in the sunshine for several days, as well as buying more light-color clothes,” said Zhang, 28. “I wish the quality standard in China could be stricter like in foreign countries, so I could worry less about my girl’s chances of getting sick.”

Contributing: Sunny Yang

10
May
13

Abercrombie and Fitch Not Stocking Larger Sizes For Women

Abercrombie & Fitch Not Stocking Larger Sizes For Women « CBS San Francisco. The video link was shown on KPIX in San Francisco on May 8, 2013. This video lasts 2:21. There is a fire-storm that is continuing to brew. Thanks to an article published on Business Insider on May 3, 2013, written by Ashley Lutz, the remarks of Abercrombie and Fitch CEO, Mike Jeffries, seemed to confirm what had previously been known but never publicly expressed, that Abercrombie and Fitch do not want overweight women in their stores (overweight men are okay because they could possibly be wrestlers or football players). In fact, there are no sizes above 10 for women, either in their stores or in their catalogs. Whether you think this is correct, take for instance, their main competitors, all carry X-large or 2XL.

Abercrombie and Fitch CEO, Mike Jeffries

Abercrombie and Fitch CEO, Mike Jeffries

But behind this policy, represents the attitude of CEO Jeffries and this had previously been published in an article in Salon, in 2006. Probably his most inflammatory comment was this: “In every school there are cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told the site. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.” It feels like you are going to visit a preppy Fraternity or Sorority as a Freshman in college. Maybe they should have ropes and bouncers with weight scales outside all of their stores.

Another comment from Abercrombie and Fitch’s CEO – The business is built around sex appeal. “It’s almost everything. That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that,” said Jeffries. By excluding people who wear larger than size 10, I surmise that Mr. Jeffries thinks that this group can neither be popular nor good-looking.

The Salon article did bring up a couple of previous controversies to which Mr. Jeffries responded to. One example was the time that Abercrombie and Fitch made thongs for middle school girls which had “Eye Candy” and “Wink Wink” on their fronts. Jeffries responded, “That was a bunch of bullshit… I still think they were cute underwear for little girls.” The second example was ‘A & F Quarterly” which boasted articles of orgies and pictures of chiseled mostly white all-American boys and girls (but mostly boys) cavorting naked on horses, beaches, etc. The American Decency Association called for a boycott of A & F. ‘A & F Quarterly’ discontinued its publication in 2003. And, of course, A & F constantly gets flak for their semi-naked images on the store fronts, their garment bags and in their commercials.

Typical marketing

Typical marketing

My Personal Feeling on Abercrombie and Fitch

My personal feeling on Abercrombie and Fitch is based on my research over the past two years. I have visited many different and various stores to determine how much “Made in USA” clothing is within stores. Over the two years, I have visited Abercrombie and Fitch three times, I made three separate trips at different locations at different times. When I enter the store, I am usually not greeted by their apathetic “good-looking” staff, because I don’t fit their demographic of pre-teen. But, then I could be shopping for my kids, or my nephew, and usually I am dressed ten times better than the staff, still, I am usually left alone for a prolonged time. (Tip for older people on a budget – next Christmas when you are shopping for your pre-teen relatives, go to Abercrombie and Fitch and wear baggy clothes, take as much…time as you want). Oh, regarding my quest for “Made in USA” clothing – absolutely zero. That is right- zippo. No clothes “Made in USA” at A & F, nor it’s poorer sister store, Hollister. So, I already have recommended that Abercrobie and Fitch is a definite ‘No Go’. Now, that A & F discriminates against heavier women in public (that is the actual crime that it has been said in public), my recommendation has changed from ‘No Go’ to ‘Boycott.’

12
Oct
12

Clothingmadeinusablog goes to France

Clothingmadeinusablog goes to France, sounds a lot like “Abbott and Costello Visit The Mummy” or “Gidget Goes Hawaiian”. The reason there have been no posts to this blog was because I had gone to France to do research and I am still getting over jet lag. I know it’s a hard life, but somebody has to do it. This entry will be about: France’s attitude about fashion; how the French people are different than Americans; and whether France makes clothes in its own country.

Paris – Fashion Capital of the World

So what is France’s attitude toward clothing and where is it made? First off, Paris is very fashion conscious. Paris believes that it is the center of the world when it comes to fashion and they are probably right, although New York City always thinks it is number one in all things. But, in comparison to New York City, in Paris, there are many more lavish fashion shows with many famous designers, usually, both French and Italian, who are  ready to go to Paris at the drop of a chapeau, because Paris is so geographically close to them (and chic).  And, let’s face it, the biggest names in fashion, have been and still are European. Another difference is the amount of media coverage of fashion news that it gets in its mainstream media sources. The French newspapers, television and general information magazines carry much more about fashion than its American counterparts. So, who is the fashion capital? Paris says: “C’est Moi.”

Being French

The people of France have some unique differences from other countries. They are proud to be French and they try hard to keep their culture from falling apart. But it is not easy. There is quite a bit of influence coming from neighboring countries as well as the United States. The English language is heard frequently everywhere: in music, in television and movies. 70% of the movies in France are from Hollywood and in English, which are either subtitled or dubbed, as are some TV shows from America, like “The Mentalist”, “Two and a Half Men” – known in France as “Mon Uncle, Charlie”, as well as some reality TV shows like “The Kardashians” and “The Real Housewives of America”. Heaven knows what the French think of Americans after watching these shows. In fact, I wonder about Americans after any reality show I watch, which fortunately for me, this is rare event.

The French like being French and celebrate their Frenchness. Liberte, Egalite, and Fraternite are the country’s motto which means Liberty, Equality and Brotherhood, which is a little better that “With Liberty and Justice for All.” The French like to enjoy life, rather than being a slave to their job or their pursuit of money – that is why they take two hours off for lunch each day, have some wine and cheese, and are closed on Sundays and often Monday as well. It is also, why there are still many small stores and small restaurants, unlike the Mega Businesses that predominate the United States. The French are more engaged in politics and yet there is not the polarization there is in the United States. (My personal thought is because there is not the Hate TV and Hate Radio in France that is so commonplace in the U.S.). In fact, a survey in France, asked the French people whether they were interested in the elections in the U.S. The survey result was 37% were interested, 52% weren’t interested. Funny, that is about the same as the American people interested in their own election.

Are The French Rude?

Are the French rude? That seems always to be a frequent question with visitors who have gone to France. I think for the most part, the French being rude is a myth. But realize, they are prideful people and would like to preserve their language. One may notice that in some conversations between French counterparts, sometimes certain English words or phrases come out, even when equivalent French words are available. Some French language proponents lament this phenomenon. Although, the French people do not expect foreign tourists to know French, they do appreciate the attempt some French. It is really quite easy. Always greet with “Bonjour, Monsieur” or “Bonjour, Madame” are usually sufficient. And in leaving: “Au Revoir, Monsieur” or “Au Revoir, Madame”. Also, “Est-ce vous parlez L’Anglais?” (Do you speak English?) is quite helpful. So, in short, no, the French are not rude. You may encounter an occasional rude French person, but then, you will, also, encounter an occasional rude waitress in your neighborhood American restaurant.

Clothing Manufacturing in France

The French like to buy French when it comes to purchasing certain things like French made cars to help support their country. But when it comes to clothing and where it is manufactured France is as clueless as most of us Americans. In fact, they are probably more clueless, because French clothing does not have to disclose where it is manufactured. Like almost all European nations, France has outsourced almost all of its clothing manufacturing. So, these famous French designers rarely have their clothing made in France. The top designers will have them made in Italy, the rest are elsewhere, mainly China. It appears that France does not recognize that manufacturing as a solid economic grower. France seems to be concentrating on the same 1980’s – 1990’s American movement that technology will save everything. France needs to diversify, they need to manufacture the technology that they are creating if they are going to get any economic benefit from it.
In the upcoming week, I will have a blog entry about shopping in France and especially Paris.

“The French complain of everything and always.” – Napoleon

06
Jan
12

Durability vs Fashion – Which one would you chose?

There has always been a dichotomy in regards to shoes. On the one side you have the practical, foot protecting and durable footwear for which it was traditionally designed for and, on the other side, you have the fashionable, bon vivant, and frivolous shoes that fill our numerous shopping centers and malls. It has been that way, for centuries, ever since shoes were transformed from simple leather foot coverings to became status symbols in the Royal European courts in the 1400’s,  with their pointed, curled up toes and added appendages. The same could be said of clothing as well.

Dress Before The Loss of Formality Era

Shoes have stayed that way – practical versus fashionable- up until the late 1960’s and early 1970’s in the United States, a period that I refer to as the Loss of Formality Era. Prior to this time, people had certain types of dress: 1) dressed up – good shoes, nice dress pants and oxford shirts or dresses for the ladies; 2) casual dress – hush puppy type shoes, fabric pants, buttoned shirt and dresses or nice blouse and fabric pants; and 3) work clothes – at that time, many people wore uniforms and work shoes, for hospitals it meant white hospital shoes, for construction, it meant steel toed construction boots, for farmers, it meant boots. Jeans were worn by farmers or when families were together in an informal setting – out of public view. Tennis shoes were only worn for physical education.

The shoes manufactured at that time were 90% American made. They were made for durability. They were made of fine leather, stitched together and/or nailed together on a wooden sole. They were expected to last for years. If they got scuffed, you polished them. If the laces frayed, you replaced the laces. If the stitching unraveled or the shoe started to come apart, you would take the shoe to a cobbler who could repair them.

There were fashionable shoes at that time as well. They were usually made in Italy or France. They also made of fine leather, fine stitched and could be repaired as well. But they were more delicate. They were not practical for environments full of rain or snow, unless you wore boots to work and changed into them once you were at work. They were designed to last for years, but only if great care was taken.

Dress After The Loss of Formality Era

With the cultural shift of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, clothing standards were relaxed and have continued to become more relaxed as time passes. Jeans, T-shirts and tennis shoes were not only okay for wear in public settings but, also, in schools. People find less and less reason to dress up, whether it is a concert, fine restaurant, church or a work setting. The loss of formality has changed our thinking about many things. Among them (non-clothing-wise), the things we have lost were: the respect of authority, the respect towards elders; the respect working one’s way up the ladder/seniority; traditional values regarding family; and loyalty towards anything. Clothing-wise, we no longer value the clothes that we wear. We abuse our clothes by constantly washing and drying them after briefly wearing them, since they are not made to last. Especially in today’s time, where 98% in slave labored produced. The clothes are made to fall apart, but who cares because they are so cheap. And you no longer have to iron these clothes because they have been impregnated with some possibly toxic chemical that makes them ‘permanent press’. Permanent Press used to be treated using Formaldehyde (a known carcinogen), but now, more often, the manufacturers use a derivative of Formaldehyde called Dimethylol dihroxyethylenurea, (DMDHEU), (unknown health effects). Clothes have become disposable which I suppose is the height of fashion. Get rid of all of “last season’s” clothes, so you can buy the newest “In” clothes. Fashion would like it if you wore a new wardrobe every time you went out. Fashion would like you to wear something only once, so you could buy something new more often. The clothing designers must change things every season, so that you will spend more money. The same thing applies to shoes. Shoes have become disposable. They are made with fabric, plastic and glue. If they do use leather it is so thin that it wouldn’t hold a stitch or a nail. There is no sense in taking these shoes to a cobbler. Now, there are three types of shoes: Durable, Fashionable and Disposable.

Fashion vs Durability

So, what is it going to be? Fashion or durability. It is your choice. Don’t let me influence your decision. But, as for me, I have chosen durability. I want durability in all that I wear, and it should be (sort of) in style. it doesn’t have to be direct from the model runways in Paris, but it can’t be a white collared, blue Oxford dress shirt either. As for men’s shoes, I have bought some very durable shoes and boots made by Wolverine, and made in the U.S.A. They are both from the 1000 mile collection. Another great American made shoe company is Allen Edmonds. Shoes made in Wisconsin since 1922. The are both fashionable and durable. They also make golf shoes. I purchased a pair of ‘1 up’ golf shoes in black. Allen Edmonds has hired an additional 120 employees since January, 2011, thanks to people supporting “Made in USA’. Another U.S. shoe company is Alden. I went to the Alden shoe store in San Francisco, CA last month. I was prepared to spend $300 on a pair of shoes,  however, that was not even enough. But, that wasn’t the disappointing thing. The selection wasn’t great for me personally. First, I don’t like slip on shoes, so that narrowed it down a bit. The one pair of shoes I did like, looked exactly like a pair of black Italian shoes I already have. So, maybe, sometime in the future, I may own some Aldens. At this time, if I can’t find American, I will buy Italian.

Taking Care of Clothes

In regards to clothing, American made clothing is very rarely Permanent Press, which means more care needs to be given. I have had to drastically alter the way I wear dress shirts. Now, I wear V neck T-shirts underneath the dress shirt. The reason for this, as in olden days, the T shirt protects the shirt for wear and tear and from underarm stains and smells. The reason for the V neck, is so you don’t see the tell tale T shirt collar underneath your dress shirt (for me growing up, exposed T shirt collars underneath your shirt meant Nerd).  I do not wash the shirt every time I wear it. But I do iron them after each wear. So, I have learned how to iron. I have had to take more clothes to the dry cleaners as well, especially dress pants usually after a couple of wears. If the accumulation of clothes that needs ironing is too much, I will take those to the dry cleaners just to be ironed. For jeans, I will wear them for months, unless very dirty before dry cleaning them (I have the original denim, no wash jeans, that still need breaking in.) What I have noticed with this change of practice away from washing and drying after each use is these clothes still look new, unlike the permanent press clothes that fade and gets pill balls and looks terrible after a couple of washings.

In conclusion, you may have to pay more initially for U.S. made clothes and you will have to take more care of your clothes, but they will look much better for a longer period of time. These clothes should last for years. For shopaholics, switching to buying American made clothes could cause extreme withdrawal, because you do not have to shop as often. So, beware. Happy shopping.

“Fashion is something barbarous, for it produces innovation without reason and imitation without benefit.” – George Santayana

07
Dec
11

Shopping for U.S. made clothing in Kauai

Mainpoint – Kauai has more U.S. made clothes than mainland America

I had just seen the movie “The Descendants” with George Clooney starring as a lawyer, in charge of a trust involving a large tract of land in Kauai, that may need to be sold, and, at the same time, he has  to cope with his nearly estranged immediate family, because his wife is in a coma. This film was directed by Alexander Payne, best known for his work on “Sideways” – which had beautifully displayed the landscape of Santa Barbara/St. Ynez area. Mr. Payne does the same thing here. It is a memorable moving postcard of Kauai, Oahu and the Big Island. The movie reminded of me of my trip to Kauai earlier this year. And it gave me the incentive to write about shopping in Kauai. By the way “The Descendants” is a very good movie.

Shopping

No, I didn’t go to Kauai just to go shopping for American made clothes. But, it is my hobby and I need to fill up my blog.  And yes, I did take time to look at the clothing labels, but not for too long, so that I didn’t tick off my wife. She has remarked to me once before: “You take all the fun out of shopping.” So, with that in the back of my mind, I tried to be less obsessive, and go with the flow and get in step with “Island Time”. In Kauai, we traveled the entire island, the part that is allowed to tourists with rental cars anyway, from the Na Pali Coast at Ke’e Beach (up north) to the Na Pali Coast out West (actually called Ha’ele’ele cliffs) at Polihale beach. The road out to Polihale beach was quite memorable, I don’t think I have seen as many ruts , ridges and potholes on any road in the U.S. as this one. When we brought our rental car back to the Hotel that afternoon, the Valet, by evaluating the tremendous amount of dust and dirt on the car, said, “You must have gone to Polihale”. He was right, there was no pulling a fast one on him.

But I digress. When I came to Kauai, my initial thought was that more of their clothing would probably be imported from China and the like, because it is almost the same distance as from the mainland. But, I was wrong, Kauai has more clothing made in the USA than the mainland (meaning greater than 2%). What I didn’t take into account were three things. First, there are many more smaller businesses in Kauai, and smaller businesses are more independent and tend to support other local businesses and their community. Second, even the larger chain stores on Kauai (Walmart, Sears, K-Mart and Macy’s) have more leeway in ordering products for their stores because their are located in a very unique environment – some would say paradise. But because of this environment, the stores have to be more thoughtful in providing products that their population needs, not just getting them things they want them to want (like the very latest fashions and trends seen in New York City or Paris). And third, Hawaiians are a proud people. They are proud of their heritage, their music, their language and their way of dress. They want to preserve their way of life – not all of them – and not all haoles (pronounced how-lehs or caucasians) want to change them either. They just want to stay a big family and support their friends and family members. How old school? Yeah? Ass right, bruddah!

Hanalei

We were staying in the southern sunny part of the island called Poipu (which means in Hawaiian – “the land of large hotels”). And from there, I always like to drive the furthest point away and work my way back. I can do that because Kauai is a small island. It doesn’t work so well in California. So, the furthest place away in Kauai that has any civilization and therefore, clothing stores, is Hanalei, the land where Puff the Magic Dragon resides. Hanalei reminds me of Bora Bora before it became so modern. Oh wait, reverse that. Hanalei has 514 people who call it “home” and I think they all work in that one small block of stores. The place I was especially interested in was a place called Hot Rocket, because “The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook” said: “Some places are a must-see like Hot Rocket, where all the Hawaiian shirts are actually made in Hawaii.” With that enticing entry, I had to see this place for myself. And it was not that easy to find, it was on the back side of the shops, the ones facing away from the highway. But I found the place, and no, it was not 100% Hawaiian. I thought not. The store did carry Hawaiian shirts (the short sleeve shirts with buttons all the way down the front usually with some floral pattern). A good percentage -wise of Hawaiian shirts were American made (just like other places on the island). The T-shirts, however, were rarely made in America. The regular bathing suits were all imported. The exception to them were the “jams” – the cloth type shorts with usually wild patterns on the outside and no lining on the inside. A tip: Just make sure you don’t buy white jams or it becomes like a wet T-shirt for the lower half. The jams were all made in the USA. I bought a pair of blue jams, a Tori Richard Hawaiian shirt and my wife bought a T-shirt. Continuing in Hanalei, across the street was Yellowfish Trading Co. which carried antiques but also some vintage (“used”) Hawaiian shirts from the 50’s and 60’s. Nearly all were made in the US at that time, even Reyn Spooner who no longer makes shirts in the U.S.. I bought a fabulous vintage white with a flowered print shirt made by Penney’s, which was manufactured in Japan. Close by was a store called Sand People which had plenty of women’s clothing but not much made in the U.S.

Kapa’a

Continuing down the road, we briefly stopped at Princeville, and then went to Kapa’a. Now Kapa’a, (pronounced Kah- Pah-pah-pah-ah-ah-ah, if you have a stutter, sorry to all you stutterererers) is Kauai’s largest city. It’s population is listed as 10,816. Now, when you drive through Kapa’a, you think: “Where are all the people?” That is because the main highway runs near the ocean through its downtown of two blocks of shops and restaurants. The people of Kapa’a actually live way up on the hills, and if you have the time, it is a nice drive through their housing tracts. One place worth stopping (and not having to do with clothing) is Kela’s Glass Gallery. It is quite beautiful. It feels somewhat more like a museum than a store for things to purchase. The prices also feel like you are buying museum pieces as well. There were several small shops that carry clothing in Kapa’a. The best store with the most American made clothing was this non-descript place just off the main highway (56), on Highway 581, just two buildings up from the lone traffic light in Kapa’a. It has many Hawaiians shirts and some of the old white label T-shirts made in America. I, also, bought a made in America T-shirt at Jungle Girl, not that they had that many. Don’t forget to eat at Bubba’s Burgers, a local favorite. Bubba’s has many funny T-shirts, too bad they are all imported. While we are at it, other great places to eat in Kapa’a/Wailua area are Kauai Pasta and Wahoo Seafood Grill and Bar. Wahoo’s is one of those rare places that serves Pacific “spiny” lobster. Upon exiting Wailua, nearly contiguous with Kapa’a (that’s how big they have gotten!) is a complex of shops called the Coconut Marketplace. Several places sell made in USA Hawaiian shirts as well.

Lihue

Yippy, Yappy and Lihue! Lihue although not the biggest, it feels like the biggest. It has the airport. It has the Movie Cineplex. It has Walmart, Costco, Kmart, Sears, Macy’s, Hilo Hattie’s, Red Dirt Shirt Co.,  Borders Books (oops, I guess no more), and even a Starbuck’s. We shall start at Walmart. I don’t know how many Walmarts I have been in but this one was a little bit of a surprise. They carried many Hawaiian shirts and I would say that probably 40% of them were U.S. made. No T- shirts were American made. I did find a package of white Nike crew socks made in the U.S. I did buy those. Next, on the list was Macy’s. For men, the only clothing made in America were Tori Richard and Kahala Hawaiian shirts. (Often, you can find Tori Richards and Kahala on the mainland as well). For women, there was, actually, a fair amount of American made clothing in the one section of Macy’s. That was a pleasant surprise. My wife purchased a top there.

There are two national T-shirt companies that started in Hawaii, Red Dirt Shirt and Crazy Shirts. They both used to be 100% made in the U.S. That was when Hanes made most of their T-shirts in the U.S. Now that most Hanes T-shirts are imported, so are Red Dirt Shirts and Crazy Shirts. They take the imported shirts and then treat them.

Hilo Hattie’s

Going to Hilo Hattie’s is like a rite of passage when visiting any of the Hawaiian islands. When you enter the store, the greeters still place upon you an inexpensive shell necklace around your neck as you enter, just as they did more than 40 years ago. I suppose if you go to Hilo Hattie’s all the time, this might not be so charming. I wonder what the locals call the place? Hilo’s? Hattie’s? Double H? So who was Hilo Hattie anyway? Answer: Clarissa Haili. Oh, so you want more information than that? Hilo Hattie was the stage name of Clarissa (Clara) Haili, born in 1901. She was a very popular Hawaiian entertainer in the 1950’s and 1960’s. One of her popular songs had Hilo Hattie in the title. She passed away in 1979 and really didn’t have much to do with the business. The first Hilo Hattie’s was started in 1963 by Jim Romig. The store was located in Kauai, specializing in Hawaiian items, and he, eventually changed the name to Hilo Hattie’s. Now, Hilo Hattie’s is Hawaii’s largest retailer, manufacturer and wholesaler of Hawaiian fashion and gifts. Hilo Hattie’s is usually a fairly large store. It has an impressive amount of “island fashion”. There are a vast array of Hawaiian shirts, tops and dresses. Matching his and hers outfits abound. I would say that about 30% of their Hawaiian shirts are U.S. made. The dresses about the same. T-shirts are almost all imported. Of special note: they do carry a certain brand of island fashion – Iolani. Iolani has more of an elegant look. When one talks about Hawaiian formal – one is usually talking about black pants and a dark, preferably black, Hawaiian shirt, but with a pattern. For women, a floral pattern dress going down to about knee level will suffice. Iolani is U.S. made.

Koloa and Poipu

When traveling to Poipu, one almost has to pass through a small town called Koloa, population 2,088. Two places worth mentioning, first they have a fantastic wine shop called “The Wine Shop”. Me, I would have named it “the Fantastic Wine Shop”. Second, they have a clothing store called Pohaku T’s. This has many Hawaiian shirts and some T-shirts. Hawaiian shirts were usually American made, T-shirts were not. In Poipu, there is a little more higher end shopping. Hawaiian shirts are your best bet in finding American made clothing and the Poipu Shopping center is one of your better bets, you bet.

Hanapepe

No trip to Kauai is complete unless you have gone to Hanapepe. The main shopping in Hanapepe is on Hanapepe Road. And if you come across it in mid daylight when nobody else is there, it can resemble a ghost town. But at other times, it can be bustling. And I use “bustling” in the context that if Kauai is ever “bustling” then this is “bustling”. Hanapepe has some art galleries and some jewelry with art galleries downtown.  The lone clothing store is Robert’s serving all of Hanapepe’s clothing needs even for the high school formals. Robert’s actually carried some made in America dress pants, (not many) but they are, also, the only ones that I found in Kauai. They carried many American made Hawaiian shirts as well. I bought two Hawaiian shirts one made by K.Y.’s and the other Two Palms. Then after shopping, we went and walked on the swinging footbridge. The footbridge makes me ponder, when they built the bridge, did they say, “I sure hope this one swings?” Then the shopping was all done and it was off to the Beach House Restaurant which probably has the most exceptional ocean view of any restaurant, let alone Kauai.

Conclusion

If you are looking for clothing made in the U.S. in Kauai, and who isn’t? Then, you are in luck especially if you are looking for Hawaiian shirts or some Hawaiian made dresses and tops at Hilo Hattie’s or Macy’s. Types of clothing you will probably not find (with regards to US made): baseball type caps, shorts, swim trunks, shoes, sandals, athletic wear, and underwear. Difficult things to find made in USA items: T-shirts, pants. So, my last piece of advice, when you are in Kauai and you get tired of shopping, remember there are many other things to do.

“Hawaii is not a state of mind, but a state of grace.” – Paul Theroux

09
Nov
11

Favorite US Stores #4 – Oxxford Clothes

Oxxford Clothes. This is the link to Oxxford Clothes.

Oxxford clothes spelled with 2 xx’s has been around since 1916. Originally started in 1916 in Chicago. They used to make suits for Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant and Joe Dimaggio. They hand make all their suits – you may want to watch the video to see the painstaking way they make your custom fit suit. There is only one remaining Oxxford clothes store remaining. It is located in Manhattan – the address is 717 Fifth Ave, but the entrance is on 56th Street between 5th and Madison. Everything is made in the United States. This is like going into the past except the store itself is quite modern looking as are the clothes. I am sure if you wanted a Retro or Classic look they could design the suit just for you. Oxxford clothes does send some of its clothes to one place and one place only – Wilkes – Bashford at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, CA.




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