Posts Tagged ‘shopping

22
Nov
12

My Personal Favorite Stores

In honor of  Small Business Saturday on November 24th, 2012, I would like to list my favorite small business that sells clothing made in the USA. Certainly, like most people, I like searching for bargains and go to places like Nordstrom Rack, and Off Fifth Avenue. But, I do like to go to the small independent stores that are the backbone of the United States economy. However, the independent stores are slowly losing their influence each year as the multi-national corporations continue to expand ever more into just about every area imaginable.

My Favorite Stores

As I live in Northern California, most of the businesses I patronize will be in San Francisco or nearby. I will list my top 10 stores, in no particular order:

1) Marine Layer – 498 Hayes Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 and, also, 2209 Chestnut St. SF, 94123. What I like about this store is that not only is it 100% American made clothing, but it is locally made around the Bay area. It has casual shirts for both men and women at reasonable prices.

2) Freemans Sporting Club – Three locations: 327 Bleeker St. NYC; 8 Rivington St, NYC; 696 Valencia St. SF. The Rivington and Valencia sites have barber shops. Freemans is an upper end mens clothier which specializes in a somewhat retro look. Most of its clothing is made in New York City or New Jersey. There are plans that within the next 18 months that Freemans will be opening up a local factory in New York.

3) Twenty One Tango – 391 Hartz Ave., Danville, CA 94526. This store has been open since 2001. It contains trendy and contemporary ladies fashions. I stumbled upon this store at an art and wine festival.

4) The Hound – 140 Sutter St. San Francisco, CA 94104. Men’s clothiers since 1972. The Hound carries famous American brands such as Bill’s Khakis, Gitman Brothers, and Carrot and Gibbs.

5) Unionmade – 3 locations: Original store opened 2009 at 493 Sanchez St., San Francisco, 94114; 2005 Larkspur Circle, Larkspur, CA; 225 26th St., Santa Monica, CA 90402. Upper middle to upper end men’s clothiers. Many American brands all in one store. There are some imports.

6) Wingtip – formerly known as On The Fly – 550 Montgomery St. San Francisco. Men’s clothier’s has many American brands. This store is not just a clothing store, but it doubles as a travel and gift store especially for men.

7) Khaki’s of Carmel (or J. Lawrence Khakis  Men’s Clothier of Carmel) – Carmel Plaza Shopping Center, Ocean Ave., Carmel, CA. Upper end men’s clothiers. Blend of new and traditional fashions. Many European designers, but a decent amount of U.S. made clothing.

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The following stores are what I will label guilty pleasures. There do not carry much US made clothing, but some have a great collection of European or Japanese made clothing.

8) Self Edge – 3 locations: 714 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA 94110; 157 Orchard Street, NY City; 144 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, CA. Specializes in denim and leather. Most brands from Japan like Flat Head and Iron Head. They also carry 3sixteen – made in USA.

9) Penelope -377 Santana Row, Suite 1165 (on Olsen Drive). Upper middle to upper end ladies fashions. Many European designers and some Canadian made Joseph Ribkoff dresses and blouses.

10) Wilkes Bashford -2 locations: 375 Sutter St., San Francisco, CA 94108 (7 stories); 450 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, CA 94304. Extremely high end for men and women. Started in 1966, Wilkes Bashford strove to create the most expensive men’s clothiers west of the Mississippi. He was the first to bring the Italian designers to California in 1972. He added a women’s section in 1978. The designers and clothes are awe-inspring. The prices are jaw-dropping. For men, they carry Kiton, Brioni, Brunello Cucinelli, Loro Piana. With regards to US made, Wilkes Bashford carries Hamilton shirts as well as some A/G and Agave. For women, WB has many top end designers such as Oscar de la Renta, Yigal Azrouel, Helmut Lang and Alexander McQueen. Don’t let the salespeople intimidate you. WB just came out with a new flier celebrating their newest renovations to both stores.

Honorary Mention

I really like Allen Edmonds and Steven Alan (15 stores),  they both have a great amount of U.S. made clothing and shoes, however, they may be too large to be considered small businesses. Allen Edmonds is best known for dress shoes, but now have started making US made clothing. Steven Alan is a maker of men’s shirts, but their stores carry a great deal of other US made clothing and shoes.

Others: Eli Thomas at Santana Row (San Jose, CA) is a very nice mens clothier and Bossini in the Valley Fair Shopping Center (San Jose, CA) is a great place to find some top European designers like Versace, Armani, and Eton. Bossini has clothing for both men and women. Fashion Passion at the Stanford Shopping Center (Palo Alto, CA) is a nice ladies boutique with many European designers.

Remember to patronize you favorite small business this Saturday, November 24th for Small Business Saturday.

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19
Nov
12

Paragon Outlets – Livermore, CA

The recession must be officially over as a brand new High End Outlet Center has just opened on November 8, 2012 in Livermore, California. It is named The Paragon Outlets. It is the first new Outlet center in California in over a decade. I know that “High End Outlet Center” sounds like an oxymoron, but this place does have many high end stores such as: Barneys, Last Call (NiemanMarcus), Armani, ETRO, Brunello Cucinello, Prada, Coach,  Brooks Brothers, Bloomingdales and Off Fifth Avenue. Also, coming soon are Burberry and Dooney Burke. So, if there is such a thing as a high end Outlet, Paragon does a very good job. Not all of the stores are high end though, as some of the familiar not so end high end stores are there as well, like Skechers, Charlotte Russe, Volcom, Osh Kosh B’Gosh, etc.

The Paragon Outlets

The Paragon Outlets are located at 2774 Paragon Outlets Drive. Currently, there is only on way in and out,  (new exits and entrances are under construction), which can cause some long lines of traffic, and this is off the El Charro exit off I-580. Not only does this Outlet Center cater to Livermore, but, also, to some of the more affluent, nearby communities of Pleasanton, Dublin, San Ramon and Danville. It is 40 miles north of San Jose and 40 miles east of San Francisco. This has already impacted the Walnut Creek shopping centers.

The Paragon outlets are basically an outer rectangular perimeter of connected stores with a center strip of stores in between. There are 130 stores, but only one food court, which can be very busy around lunch time. I can only imagine what that will look like on the weekends following Thanksgiving and the Christmas season.

Shopping For Clothing Made In the USA at the Paragon Outlets

Remember that buying American can increase more American jobs. (Thanks to madeinusachallenge.com for the link.) Since there are 130 stores at the Paragon Outlets, I will not list each individual store but will list only the ones that offer you the best opportunity to find clothing made in the USA. For the other stores and how much US made clothing they sell, you may want to check out my link: Rating the Stores for US Made Clothing. Happy shopping and buy American.

Top Choice for US Made Clothing at the Paragon Outlets

Splendid/Ella Moss – Women’s clothing, mostly casual and targeted towards younger women.

New Balance – The only shoe maker in the U.S. that still makes athletic shoes. Look for the boxes with the United States flag on them.

Barneys of New York – The outlet of the high end store Barneys. Many European designers and some high end U.S. makers. For men, they carried brands such as Gitman Vintage, Steven Alan, Friend or Foe, and Todd Snyder.

Last Call – The outlet for Nieman Marcus. High end. Many European designers like Brioni and a few U.S. brands like A/G.

Off Fifth Avenue – The outlet for Saks Fifth Avenue. High end. Many European designers and a few US brands like Rag and Bone.

Charlotte Russe outlet. Mid to lower level outlet. Women’s clothing, mostly casual, targeted towards younger women.

Bloomingdales – Mid level outlet for the department store. Several US brands.

True Religion, 7 for All Mankind, Joe’s Jeans – One may find jeans made in the USA in one of these stores.

Updated February 14, 2013.

12
Nov
12

Best Stores To Find Clothing Made in the USA

Clothingmadeinusablog lists their favorite places to find made in USA clothing.

We all know that finding clothing made in the United States can be very difficult. That is because only 2% of our clothes are manufactured in the U.S. in 2013. Therefore, it takes a plan in order to find these precious gems. Some tips can be gleened from my blog entry ‘Best Tips to Buying.’ One of the basic tips is that small independent stores are good bets because they do not have to buy in gigantic volumes and because of their independent nature, they are more likely than the chain store outlets to carry U.S made clothing. So visit your nearby independent clothing store and check the label.

Department Stores

Even the best department stores will carry only about 2% of American made clothing, mostly because they deal with great volumes of clothing. The worst of the department stores like Kohl’s will carry less than 0.001% American made. Overall from the best to worst goes like this: Nordstroms> Nordstroms Rack> Nieman Marcus> Barneys> Saks fifth Avenue> Bloomingdales> Macys> Dillards> Target> WalMart> Sears> JC Pennys> Kohls.

How Best To Use This Information

For this listing to have the most relevance for yourself, let me first describe, what I, personally, am looking for. First, the clothing must be made in the USA. Second, I prefer a well-constructed quality garment. Third, the item can be found at a brick and mortar store. Regarding the particular stores, I am listing stores that on an ordinary day should have certain amount of made in USA clothing. In this blog entry I tend to list more of the larger stores so that people across the United States can also utilize this list. Please be aware that many small independent stores may actually carry more made in USA clothing than many of the chains. Also, note, I live in Northern California, so not all chains extend across the United States, plus I live in a metropolitan area, so my number of choices may be much more abundant than if you live in a rural area or small town. My listing will be divided up by clothing garments. Based on the above, you can see whether my information is relevant to you.

Mens Clothing: Casual Pants

Some of the most common casual pants made in the USA are: Adriano Goldschmied (A/G), Citizens of Humanity, J. Brand, Paige, Postage At Nordstroms. Nieman Marcus: J.Brand, Rag & Bone (also found at Rag & Bone stores in New York City). Barney’s: Band of Outsiders and Thom Browne. If you are looking for less expensive casual pants, I would suggest American Apparel.

Dress Pants

Brands of dress pants (this is a very difficult item to find): Joseph Abboud, Riveira, Nuvo at Nordstrom’s Rack (if one is lucky).  There are fine dress pants available at Alan Edmonds as well as Bills Khakis. If one is lucky, one may find brand name of Fitzgerald or Madison, made in the USA, at Brooks Brothers. Hickey Freeman is a good choice for fine dress pants. Thom Browne can be found at Barneys. Nordstroms is now carrying Alex Maine pants and Hugo Boss pants (rarely) made in the US.

Jeans

Thank goodness, many brands of jeans are still made in the USA, but Wrangler and Lee no longer make any in the U.S. Levi’s still makes a limited amount in the US, they can be found in their flagship store (1155 Battery) in San Francisco. The United States makes great jeans, and especially the high quality selvedge jeans, see my link: selvedge jeans Made in the USA. Since there are so many brands of jeans to be found, my preference is going to Nordstroms Rack, they carry brands such as 7 For All Mankind, Paige Premium, A/G, Joe’s, and True Religion. One can also visit some outlet stores of True Religion and 7 For All Mankind. Blues Jean Bar also carries their own brands.

Dress Shirts

Dress Shirts brands made in the US are few, but there is  one new maker of American dress shirts. Best known for its great dress shoes, Allen Edmonds now makes dress shirts found in its stores or on-line. Other brands like Gitman Brothers can be found at small stores like Bill’s Khaki’s or Barney’s. Thom Browne, winner of my Best Dress Shirt in the United States, can be found at Barneys. Brooks Brothers carries Black Fleece but very few under its Brooks Brothers label. Robert Talbott shirts made in the USA (small amount of them are made in the US) can be found in Robert Talbott stores and outlets. If you happen to be in New York City, try and find Oxxford, makers of fine clothing since the 1916.

Casual Shirts

Casual shirts run the gamut of semi-dressy to T-shirt like design. For collared, long sleeved, buttoned up shirts, I like Freemans Sporting Club and Bill’s Khakis. For polo shirts, I prefer James Perse. Agave is another great brand of casual shirts. For T-shirts, there is a multitude to chose of brands to choose from. For T-shirts, I prefer to go to the Nordstroms Rack or Off 5th Avenue.

Underwear

Men’s underwear has a very small number of brands available. I prefer to go to American Apparel for this. Sometimes, I get lucky and find some REI underwear made in the US at REI. But my favorite is bgreen found at Eco Goods in Santa Cruz, CA. Otherwise, going on the internet and go to Flint and Tinder or Ramblers Way.

Socks

There are numerous brands of socks made in the United States. Just about all stores may have a few brands, even Walmart and Target, maybe not Kohl’s. For a listing of the various brands of socks, follow this link: socks.

Shoes

For athletic shoes, running, cross training, and tennis shoes, there is only one American brand that makes these shoes in the United States, it is New Balance. For dress shoes, there are a few choices, but my favorite is Allen Edmonds, there are more and more A.E. stores going across the United States all the time. Dress Boots – there are a few big names still around: Red Wing, Frye’s, and my favorite Wolverine, the 1000 mile design. Red Wings Boots can be found at their stores. Frye’s and Wolverine boots can be found at various different department stores and independent stores across the United States. For a list of shoes made in the U.S. follow this link: shoes.

Sports Jackets

Sports jackets are one of the articles of clothing that the United States are still one of the best at manufacturing. Many times companies have sent their manufacturing to China, just to bring it back because of poor manufacturing. The major makers of sports jackets can be found at Nordstroms, Nordstroms Rack, lesser amounts at Macy’s, Bloomingdales and Dillards. The brands include: Hart-Schauffner-Marx, Hickey Freeman, Joseph Abboud. Brooks Brothers also carries a couple of lines of brands.

Women’s Clothing

Tops & Blouses

There are many U.S. made brands in many department stores. Many brands can be found in independent stores. In some department stores, some of the US made clothing is grouped into one area. Best bets: independent stores. For department stores: Nordstroms, Nordstroms Rack, Bloomingdale, Macy’s. Much less is found in Walmart, Target, Sears, J.C. Penneys (nearly zero). The worst is Kohls. NiemanMarcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Barneys may have a better selection of the more expensive and higher quality tops and dresses. The very, very discount stores Marshalls, Ross, T.J. Maxx and Burlington Coat Factory are overall poor choices to find U.S. made clothes. If I had to chose a best store to find clothing made in the US for women, I would chose Micheal Stars.

Jeans

There is an even greater selection of jeans for women than there is for men. For this reason, I would suggest one of the Department Discount stores like Nordstroms Rack. The brands most often seen are Hudson, Paige, Not Your Daughters Jeans, Joe’s, 7 For All Mankind, and True Religion. Outlet stores of the makers of jeans like 7 For All Mankind and True Religion are also good choices to find U.S. made jeans, but not Lucky Jeans nor Levi’s (unless you go to the flagship store). Don’t forget to try the smaller independent stores as well which carry many other brands.

Underwear

Underwear made in the USA for women, like underwear for men, are in very short supply. The list is limited. Hanky Panky can be found at Nordstroms. American Apparel is always a good source of just about all types of clothing and they are always made in the United States. For other brands of underwear, please follow the link: underwear made in the USA.

Socks

There are multiple makers of socks made in the US. Most stores will carry some US made socks. see my blog entry on socks for the almost 100 brands of socks made in the USA.

Shoes

New Balance is the only US made brand that makes athletic shoes, but, fortunately, they make many different models. For dress shoes, the selection is actually pretty sparse. Hands down the best choice is Nordstroms with its brands of: Athena, Callisto, Dezario, Icon, Jack Rogers, Munro, and Onex. For a full list of US made shoes, follow this link: Shoes Made in the U.S.

Buying Clothing via the Internet

There are hundreds of companies that sell only through the internet. I have a blog entry with many links to find those garments Made in the USA at Listing of Brands of Clothing Made in the USA via Internet. Some of my favorites are Flint and Tinder and American Giant. Updated December 10, 2013

“Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping.” – Bo Derek

07
Apr
12

Top 25 Shopping Cities – Lucky Magazine

Lucky’s Top 25 Shopping Cities

  1. New York
  2. Los Angeles
  3. San Francisco
  4. Miami
  5. Chicago
  6. Atlanta
  7. Portland
  8. Seattle
  9. Phoenix
  10. Las Vegas
  11. Washington D.C.
  12. Austin
  13. Boston
  14. Philadelphia
  15. Houston
  16. Dallas
  17. Denver
  18. Orlando
  19. New Orleans
  20. Nashville
  21. Kansas City
  22. Baltimore
  23. Charlotte
  24. Minneapolis
  25. Indianapolis

Lucky Magazine came out with their top 25 Shopping Cities on February 2012. Factors considered: the number of empty stores (culled from real estate firms, traffic on Yelp, the number of women’s clothing stores and department stores (from Costco to Saks Fifth Avenue), and where Lucky editors would want to shop. Regarding San Francisco: “San Francisco has tons of great neighborhoods, with a distinct mix of second hand, designer and boutique shopping. When it comes to innovation, SF has yet to open its ‘Opening Ceremony’ or ‘Ten Over Six’ equivalent. But in such a cool town, we know a cool concept store is sure to emerge!” said Lauren Sherman, Lucky’s executive digital editor.

For the full article please click on this link: Lucky’s Top 25 Shopping Cities.

“Veni, Vidi, Visa – I came, I saw, I went shopping” – Julius Caeser at Barney’s

02
Apr
12

Shopping the Magnificent Mile/Chicago for Clothing made in USA

Mainpoint: clothingmadeinusablog goes to Chicago’s favorite shopping destination, the Magnificent Mile, in search of clothing made in USA.

Clothingmadeinusablog heads to the third largest city in the United States, Chicago, Illinois to shop.

Shopping in Chicago used to mean shopping on State Street at McCormick Place and Carson Pirie Scott & Co. However, those places are history, and instead the favored shopping area now is on North Michigan Avenue between Grand Avenue and Oak Street, called the Magnificent Mile. There are 460 stores, 275 restaurants and 51 hotels. So, is it worth checking out? Yes. Is it the best? No, but it is in the top 5 in the United States.

Stores within the Magnificent Mile

If you come from a small town or a medium size town but many miles away from a large metropolitan area, then you may find this place overwhelming. Many of the major department stores, medium to upper end are located within a half mile from each other: (from South to North) Nordstrom’s, Sak’s Fifth Avenue, Nieman Marcus, Macys, and Bloomingdales. And then there are chain stores galore. If you are a seasoned shopper, and have been to most of the big city stores and department stores then this place might not be as a big deal – but still it is nice that all these major department stores are so close together. The luxury stores are ample: Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Escada, Salvatore Ferragamo, Bottega Venetta, Chanel and Armani. Barney’s and Hermes  are actually a little ways down on Oak Street near Rush Street. There are three malls on the Magnificent Mile – the Nordstrom’s mall also called The Shops at North Bridge (520 N. Michigan), The Macy’s mall called The Water Tower (845 N. Michigan), is at the base of the 100 story John Hancock Tower, and the Bloomingdale Mall which is just called 900 N. Michigan. My preference are to see more independent stores. It gives the place more character, places likes Garrett’s Popcorn and Harry Caray’s restaurant  just down the street. Whereas, chain stores look the same no matter where you are whether in Little Rock, Arkansas, Honolulu, Hawaii or New York City. Of course, there are some exceptions. The independent stores tend to be rougher around the edges and may have more American made clothing. I have said in the past that independent clothiers may have more USA made clothing, but I may need to amend that when it pertains to men’s clothing. Men’s clothier’s tend to be more upper end, and with many of American manufacturers of men’s clothing, especially upper end rapidly disappearing, the void has had to be filled with foreign made clothes, European as well as slave labor countries. That is true for Mark Shale clothier’s as well.

Surprises on the Magnificent Mile

When shopping in these large complexes, we expect to see many of the same old chains: Gap, H & M, Maxa Mara, Abercrombie & Fitch, etc. But occassionally, we will see something new, like a brand new chain starting up (more likely) that just hasn’t made it to your neighborhood or a new, independent  store all together. These are called the surprises. One store, I had not seen in Northern California is Zara’s (700 N. Michigan). It is a chain that started in Spain, most, well maybe 50%, of its clothing is made in Spain, Portugal or Turkey, the rest in countries like China. I purchased a nice $60 dress shirt made in Spain at Zara’s. Next – All Saints Spital Fields (also at 700 N. Michigan)- it has has an impressive entrance with an entire wall made up of old Singer Sewing Machines, and the inside has some old sewing crafts and tables as well. It started in the United Kingdom. It is too bad that 100% of their products are from slave market manufacturing, except for the items from Turkey (I am still undecided if Turkey is slave labor or not.) Wohlford (in the Stores at North Bridge) is an unusual store in that most of their products are made in Austria. It is mainly a high end ladies undergarment store. Bras run about $160. Adele Dallas Orr is another interesting place, also located in the Shops at North Bridge – it carries ladies clothing and coats,  with a higher percentage of US made clothing. Many times I had to take the word of the salesperson that some of the garments were US made, because I could not find the labels anywhere inside the garments.

There were several small places in the Bloomingdale’s mall (900 N. Michigan) that were worth visiting: Space 519, probably named for the numbered  space within the mall, is a quirky little delight – on the one side is a tiny book-like shop with travelbooks and souvenirs and some items of furniture and on the other side were ladies clothing with a higher percentage than most of US made clothing. Definitely worth a stop. Another place worth a mentioning is DNA 2050 (in the same mall)- it is mainly clothing for younger people but had a fantastic selection of US made jeans. Akira (located in Water Tower place) is a clothing and shoe boutique that started in Chicago in 2002, now they have 17 stores around Chicago-land. The look is more younger and hip, but sadly, 100% slave labor made.

Special place not to visit: Isis – extremely rude service, even after I said I might help them to drum up business (and it’s not like they even had upper end merchandise like Louis Vuitton either).

The Best Places to Buy American Made Clothing on the Magnificent Mile

First – Allen Edmonds – men’s shoes, all American made, well made, very fashionable, they also carry some of their golf shoes in their stores.

Second – St. Croix (located in the Bloomingdale’s mall) – all sweaters are US made. All other clothing is European made.

Third – Nordstrom’s – still the best department store for finding clothing made in the US for both men and women.

Special mention: Nieman Marcus, Brooks Brothers and St. John.

Addendum: There is a brand new store has opened that features products only made in the USA. It’s name is Independence, located on 47 Oak Street (2nd Floor) just off N. Michigan Ave, at the north end of the Magnificent Mile. It is owned by George Vlagos, owner of Oak Street Bootmakers.

Places that have 0% US made clothing – too numerous to mention.

I had one other goal – to check out the places that have until last year were 100% foreign made, but since 2011, have started carrying “Made in USA” products. They are Levi’s, Orvis, LL Bean, Ralph Lauren and Club Monaco. Alas, the only one that had any US made clothing was Orvis, and that was rare. Ralph Lauren had dress shoes and jeans made in the USA but all the RRL (Retro Ralph Lauren) shirts were foreign made – India. I learned something interesting and trivial at the same time. The RRL brand, with the second R printed backwards, is the same logo as the Ralph Lauren Ranch in Telluride, Colorado, named after Ralph and his wife, Ricky Lauren. RRL was designed by Ralph Lauren, based on clothing he liked to wear out on his ranch.

Remember to avoid slave labor clothing when you can and better yet, buy US made clothing.

“The difference between style and fashion is quality.” – Giorgio Armani

13
Feb
12

Shopping Experience in Santa Cruz, CA

Mainpoint: Shopping in downtown Santa Cruz, CA looking for Made in U.S.A. clothing.

Clothingmadeinusablog is always looking for good independent clothing retailers. This time we go to Santa Cruz, California. Santa Cruz (Spanish for St. Croix, meaning Holy Cross), is a northern coastal California city, population of 59,946, 30 minutes south of San Jose, CA. It is famous for the largest beach boardwalk in the United States. It has a University of California branch, the University of California/ Santa Cruz (UCSC). UCSC is most famous  for its quirky grading system that doesn’t use grades, and their team name are the Fighting Banana Slugs – named for the indigenous bright yellow mollusks that slime their way through the Santa Cruz woods. Like other coastal towns, the number of visitors to Santa Cruz is dependent on the weather. On a warm summer weekend, Santa Cruz can be extremely busy and overcrowded, yet the next weekend, if the fog comes in thick (like San Francisco and Monterey), which can be frigid causing Mark Twain to once remark: “the coldest winter I ever spent was the summer in San Francisco.” On those days, the number of tourists are down, and the top selling clothing items are thick long sleeve sweatshirts, preferably with a hood. The autumn is probably the best time to visit, unless you happen to visit on one of those unpredictable warm summer days. The population of Santa Cruz is younger, mean age of 29.9 years. Santa Cruz used to be over-run with hippies in the 1960’s and 70’s. They have moved on, and a newer counter culture of grunge has taken their place. An apt T-shirt is: “Keep Santa Cruz Weird”. Despite the counter culture aspect, there are no smoke shops or cannabis clubs on the “proper side” of the main drag (no pun intended). Because of the more youthful clientele, most shops are set up for the younger set.

Downtown Shopping

Santa Cruz does have some scattered outlets here and there as well as some big chain stores like Costco, Petsmart and Cost Plus World Market.  But the best shopping is downtown. Downtown has changed greatly since the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, many places had to be rebuilt, some places torn down. The Downtown areas continue to evolve, businesses always moving in and out. Presently, the best shopping and restaurants are on Pacific Avenue between Cathcart St. and Water Street. There are now many restaurants with outdoor seating that it is beginning to resemble France and their many cafes (sort of, in a way). The downtown association has been fairly good at keeping out the giant chains from the downtown area – which helps the Santa Cruz downtown keep its individual identity. But there still are chains: Starbucks (of course), Verizon, O’Neils, Cold Stone Creamery, Subway, The Gap, Noah’s Bagels, Urban Outfitters, Peet’s Coffee and an actual “good chain” – American Apparel.

The Best Stores for Finding U.S. Made Clothing in Santa Cruz

Overall, the shopping in downtown Santa Cruz is better than average when it comes to finding U.S. made clothing. One of the reasons for this, most of the stores are locally owned and independently run. They are not taking their orders from the corporate offices from New York City or Hong Kong (sorry, GAP). Therefore, these small stores can purchase in small quantities from small manufacturers (often American), and can provide unique clothing not found in your chain stores.

I have listed four stores that deserve special mention: Eco Goods, Jade, Moda Bellissima, and Stripe.

Eco Goods

My favorite store is Eco Goods. This is what is called a socially conscious store. Eco Goods started in 1994. It is a general store that sells clothes to house wares based on earth friendly merits. Clothing is made from organic cotton (no nasty pesticides) and hemp. More recently, they have added clothing made of natural products such as bamboo and soy. Mugs and plates are made from recycled glass. Toys are made with natural materials and natural dyes. Plastic bottles for children are all bisphenol A free. Many products also are fair trade certified. Just think if all the stores were socially conscious, better yet, what if all consumers were socially conscious? In regards to American made clothing, Eco Goods carries about 30% US made. They carry underwear for both men and women, which are rare (US made) finds. For the ladies, they carry Blue Canoe, for the men, bdgreen and bamboosa. They carry US made T-shirts like Saving The Earth Creations, GGO Clothing Dresses, No Enemy tops for children and several brands of U.S. organic socks: Sockwell, Good Hen, and Maggie’s. Address: 1130 Pacific Avenue.

Jade

Jade is a clothing store with the highest percentage of U.S. made clothing with the exception of American Apparel which is 100%. You would think that a store named Jade would not have much American made products, but it does. Jade is a medium end store. It is a ladies clothing store. The percentage of U.S. made clothing is about 40%. Many tops and T-shirts, with American manufacturers such as Prairie Underground, Fluffco, Supermaggie and Obey. They also have Genetic Denim U.S. made jeans. The target audience is young women. Address: 1128 Pacific Avenue (next door to Eco Goods)

Moda Bellissima

Moda Bellissima is located on one of the side streets off Pacific – on Locust Street (107 Locust Street). Moda Bellissima is the only store that I would consider medium to high end and the only ladies clothing store that doesn’t cater strictly for young women, in the downtown area.  Probably 10% is U.S. made. American makers such as Karen Klein, URU and Eva Varro are for sale as well as Joseph Ribkoff of Canada, all great stuff. The place has been in business for only four months. Definitely give the place a look. – Store is closed

Stripe

Stripe is a nice little surprise. It is an eclectic mix of clothing, jewelry, gifts, art and accessories. They also have some vintage leather jackets. This store is like a mixture of Santa Cruz and San Francisco. One thing I appreciate is their supporting of locally made products like Santa Cruz’s own Sally Esposito, and Thieves. About 10% is U.S. made. Give the place a look. Address: 107 Walnut Street. Target audience: younger men and women. There is also a Stripe for men as well.

Honorable Mention

Pacific Trading Company

Pacific Trading Company is one of the largest clothing stores in downtown Santa Cruz. There are numerous American made clothing labels. 15 to 20% of the clothing is U.S. made. Target audience: young women. Address: 1224 Pacific Avenue

American Apparel

American Apparel is a chain of clothing stores. All clothing is made in Los Angeles, 100% American made. So, why isn’t American Apparel on the top of the list? First, I have already featured them in my blog entry “Favorite U.S. Store #1 – American Apparel”. Second, this is the fifth American Apparel store I have visited. Why this isn’t my number one clothing store of all time? Well, it is geared for young men and women, the clothing is a little on the low end like H & M or Old Navy, and third, some of their items such as shorts, pants and some shirts are unisex, which really means they are only for women. I did find one new item on this trip: retro flannel shirts. The downtown American Apparel has been in Santa Cruz for four years. This store is great for the basics and at a reasonable price.

The Rest

Sockshop and Shoe Company is a worth a visit with its myriad of socks. They carry 12 different brands of socks made in the USA. The other half of the store is the shoe store – 0% American made shoes.

OM Rhythms – Different type of garments predominantly from Nepal. I did find two different made in U.S. labelled clothing. 1% US made.

Kaleponi – Ladies clothing, Target demographic: young ladies. 2% U.S. made.

Sway – Ladies Clothing, Target demographic: young ladies. 5% U.S. made.

Bubble Lounge – Ladies Clothing, Target demographic: young ladies. 5% U.S. made.

Kurios – Ladies Clothing, Target demographic: young ladies. <5% U.S. made.

Jewels on Pacific – Ladies Clothing, some fancy dresses, Target demographic: young ladies. <2% U.S. made.

Flying Lizard – Ladies Clothing, Target demographic: young ladies. <2% U.S. made.

The Hat Company – Hats and some ladies wear. <1% U.S. made

Legs – Stockings and Socks. 5% U.S. made.

Wallflower – Ladies Clothing, Target demographic: young ladies. <2% U.S. made.

Bunnys – Ladies Clothing, Target demographic: young ladies. 2% U.S. made.

Camouflage – Lingerie and costumes. 2% U.S. made.

La Playa – Clothing, Target demographic: tourists. < 1% U.S. made.

Bunny Shoes – Shoes, 0% US made.

Fetish Shoes – Shoes, 0% US made, but some from Italy and Portugal.

Old School Shoes – Shoes, (actually a disappointment, I thought there would be many different retro shoes, instead a re-tread of old keds but now made in slave labor countries) 0% US made.

GAP – clothing, multinational chain (also part of Banana Republic and Old Navy) <1% US made.

Oneill – Clothing, wetsuits, multinational chain (also a disappointment, you would think that a company started in San Francisco and Santa Cruz might be more socially aware, but no.) , < 1% US made.

Urban Outfitters – National chain,  <1% US made.

Conclusion

Shopping in Santa Cruz is an interesting experience, different articles from many small independent operators. Most stores are geared for the young shopper and are either low to medium end. Visit the Boardwalk, have a meal at one of the sidewalk cafes and shop downtown. Remember to buy American, if not from American, then from Italy, England, Portugal, France, Spain, Germany, Sweden or Japan, or any place where there is a fair wage for a fair job. By buying products made by slave labor, you are condoning slave labor practices.

“Women thrive on novelty and are easy meat for the commerce of fashion. Men prefer old pipes and torn jackets.” – Anthony Burgess

Updated 3/28/2015

03
Feb
12

Favorite U.S. Store # 7 – Rag and Bone

rag & bone Official Store. Looking for clothing made in the USA? Try Rag & Bone. Rag & Bone is another one of those improbable success stories, and another place that manufactures and sells clothing made in the USA. Their first stores, which opened in 2008 is in the West Village of New York City, a couple of blocks west of Greenwich Village. The store at 100 Christopher Street (The Mens Store) and 104 Christopher Street (The Womens Store) are situated in this well preserved block of historic brick houses and buildings from the 1800s. When you walk into the store, there is an ambiance of quaintness and “rustique” – back to a time when things were less rushed and less complex. The stores are of modest size, caertainly when you compare them to present day superstores. All of these elements add to the shopping experience. The Mens store carries suits, pants, shoes, belts and accessories. The Womens store carries tops, blouse, dresses and accessories as well. In regards to the percentage of US Made, I would say about 60% is US made in the Men’s store, and 30% in the Women’s store.

The Style of Rag & Bone

Rag & Bone’s niche: “Affordable apparel, but with a high-end designer point of view.” Their clothes are made to last. Quality before fashion. The clothes are made to stay in your closet for 10 to 20 years from now. They have a talent for taking that which is timeless and making it cool. I purchased a pair of brown pants – the kind of brown color you do not see in modern day pants, but more like in the 1800s, they tailored the length for me and shipped them to my home address (no sales tax in New York, if they have no store near you) and now they are my favorite pants. They are casual (with the button up fly) yet not jeans, and very comfortable. It is kind of the “Noveau Retro” look that has been so popular the past few years (some would say they are reinterpreting the classics.) Many of their shirts or blazers have a special je ne sais qua: unique buttons on them manufactured from companies that have made buttons since 1812, such as Waterbury Button; or special trimmings or trim which may them great for layering.

Stores

Rag & Bone have the two stores in West Village as I mentioned above, but also in SOHO, 119 Mercer Street (both Men & Women’s Store). There are two other women’s store in New York – the upper West Side at 182 Columbus Avenue and, also, 73 E. Houston Street in Houston, New York City. They have now expanded outside of the Big Apple to Washington D.C. and the most recently opened store is located in Tokyo, Japan. Rag & Bone clothing can also be found in many of your upper end department stores: Barneys, Bergdorf- Goodman, Bloomingdales, Nieman-Marcus and Nordstroms. Just don’t expect to see tons of their clothes, as quality is still important, unlike many very rich designers that have moved all their mass produced clothing to slave shop factories. (Who needs a conscience when you got money?) (I know the rebuttal to that: you can’t blame the designer and their MultiNational corporations, blame the people who buy them. Yes, both are at fault, although I am hoping that more clothing will be manufactured here and people will stop buying items made from slave labor.)

The Story of Rag & Bone

First, Rag & Bone is an English term meaning junk or waste, like in a junkyard. So, from that clue, you can assume the owners of Rag & Bone are English, and you would be absolutely correct for $200, Alex. The co-founders, David Neville and Marcus Wainwright, first met at a Boarding school in Berkshire, but did not become fast friends until during a gap year, where they both worked at a bar in Portugal. During one of their more productive conversations, they lamented that they could not find any decent denim, and it was from this void that they decided that they were going into the business of making denim that would appease their tastes and sensibilities. (It is kind of like Tom Ford, who couldn’t find suits that would fit him correctly, so he decided to make suits for himself and voila, fashion-designer genius). The first and most immediate problem was that neither had any experience in making, designing or selling clothes. No problem – they went to the U.S. to learn the craft themselves. They visited Kentucky Apparel (now closed) to learn how they manufactured first line jeans. The next step was to move to New York City and start Rag and Bone, that was in 2002. At first, the clothing was only for men and it was denim. Then, at the urging of their wives, they started making a women’s clothing line as well. After a while, denim took a back seat to other materials. They became more and more successful, they: opened their first store in 2008; now have their own model runway shows; have hired some of the top models to display some of their wares; opened up additional stores, including Tokyo; have their designs appearing in multiple fashion magazines; and have even appeared on the Jimmy Fallon show.

Philosophy

From main designer Marcus Wainwright; “Rag & Bone is a function of our English upbringing, wearing uniforms at school and my dad’s handed – down tailor – made suits. This is coupled with where we started making clothes, which was in very old American workwear factories. The source of the aesthetic is English tailoring meets military and workwear.”

Give Rag & Bone a peek, better yet visit the store on 100 Christopher Street in the West Village in New York City to get the full effect.

“I love things that age well – things that don’t date, that stand the test of time and that become living examples of the absolute best.” – Giorgio Armani




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