11 Designers Sound Off on U.S. Manufacturing


You like to buy U.S. designed and manufactured clothing, but how do designers feel about their roles in it?

11 designers would like to tell you.


Emily Katz: I enjoy being able to talk with my contractors, meet with them when need be to make sure they are doing the quality that I require, and know that they are only a few miles away. I could bike to 2 out of 3 of my sewers’ workplaces. I think it is important to know how the garments are being made and to have a hand in it. However, we still need to find cheaper ways to produce locally. It is difficult to compete with big brands who are “luxury” and are charging the same amount as small eco designers who manufacture domestically. They have a much higher profit margin, and that can be the difference from staying in the mainstream consciousness, or going out of business.


Angel Court Jewels: To me, an eco line is about a concern for the whole. Producing in the U.S. is the same sentiment. Production in the U.S. helps us all just as producing and buying eco helps us all.


Aster and Sage: I’m in New Jersey and my products are made by me or by my stitchers in New England. UPS ground guarantees next day delivery, so I can get stuff to or from them overnight. I can visit them easily (though I wish I did that more often). I think it’s a little like buying fruits and vegetables; I may think globally, but I try to eat and manufacture locally.


Filly: I benefit from manufacturing in the USA by being able to connect with my manufacturer. I know her. Her name is Mary. She lives in San Francisco. She drives a Mercedes. And she likes my designs. She is beautiful and kind and rooting for me. Neither of us is exploiting the other but we are both benefiting from our relationship.


cmarchuska: I benefit from having my line manufactured in the U.S. for numerous reasons; some of the most notable would be:

– quality control standards – I am able to be involved actively in every aspect of the manufacturing process and to make sure the pieces are put together according to my standards.

-shorter runs/on-demand runs – Manufacturing in the U.S. provides you with the luxury of being able to produce smaller run sizes and on-demand runs which is very important in this tough economy.

-fair trade/fair labor/eco-friendly processes – I guess this relates more to start-ups and smaller companies, but you are able to oversee the operation (as mentioned in my first point) versus working with China/India where you might just be entrusting another individual on these very important issues.  This was one of my main reasons for manufacturing domestically here in NYC.


Souchi: I love that our production is not only made in the U.S. but that 100% of our line is made in our studio in Portland, Oregon. The benefits are on many levels: creating jobs in the town I live in, overseeing quality on each piece, cutting shipping costs which  lowers fuel costs.

Figs and Ginger: We benefit from feeling good about supporting our local economy.  There’s nothing better than feeling good about yourself!  Also we have much more control of the quality of our products because we’re making it ourselves in the U.S. and not having it produced overseas.


Kate Organic: Producing Kate Organic in the U.S. 45 minutes from our house has a lot of positives and negatives. We like being in control from start to finish, but, we hate being in charge from start to finish. Every decision is ours. Every choice that is right or wrong is ours. No excuses! When we made the line overseas, sometimes it felt like flipping a coin and whatever you got, you got.

It is nice to keep as much money in the U.S. as possible. But, since it is made in the U.S. the costs are so much higher. Stores do not like that the costs go up. They want it made in the U.S., but they want it at a lower price point, so it gets rough. At this point our biggest issue is keeping stores in business.


Feral Childe: Feral Childe works with printers, dye houses, cutters and sewers within a 50-mile radius! Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Long Island and Paterson, New Jersey are also frequent stops. We want to support our local garment industry and have become so friendly with our suppliers and contractors that it would break our hearts to get our clothes produced elsewhere. The New York City Garment District is totally unique. Where else can you get your clothes cut and sewn on the sixth floor, run across the street when you discovered you’ve run out of elastic, dash back upstairs and then scoop everything up to get the snaps put on by the guys on the sixth floor? Not to mention our accountant and our favorite fabric showroom are across the hall from one another in yet another tall building! It’s one-stop shopping. Business is very much done by word of mouth here so everyone really counts on one another – it really is a community. We love the history of the Garment District and we are proud to produce Feral Childe in New York City.


Mothlove: The costs I face as a small/independent and American-made designer currently outweigh the benefits. The average citizen has been so spoiled by low-cost, poorly-made and outsourced products, reluctance to truly support local artisans remains. Education is key; re-learning the importance of not only locally-made, but well [made] – and with environmental/economical consciousness comes cost. Costs to the designer (especially small-scale designers) in supplies and production equal higher price tags, especially in independently owned/operated boutiques – the new “mom & pop” shops that support them. Without supporting the boutiques, we don’t support the local economy. Without supporting our local economy, we lack the support for the artisan. And without the local artistic community, we lack culture.

Kim White: Number one, my buyers care. They ask where my stuff is made. Number two, locally made means I can see production and catch mistakes. I don’t get production from, say China, and it’s done wrong. Quality Control is waaaay easier.

Image: The Shopping Sherpa

Amy DuFault

Amy DuFault is a conscious lifestyle writer, consultant and fashion instigator. She resides in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.