From the East Coast to the West Coast and everywhere in between, patriotism prevails with apparel and accessories companies forging ahead in honor of some good old American fashion. Bobbie Thomas, TODAY style editor and author of the Buzz column for In Touch Weekly, highlights brands that take pride in their “Made in the USA” label.
Clothing is a fundamental human need, and wardrobe essentials such as socks, undergarments, T-shirts and tank tops make up the key components of our closets. American Apparel has become synonymous with solid-colored wardrobe staples, offering every imaginable cotton basic one could need. The brand operates the largest garment factory in the United States, employing 5,000 people in Los Angeles alone ($15-$90, americanapparel.net). Other basics-oriented brands like Splendid and C&C California contribute to the casual clothing collections cut on the West Coast.
Made in Vermont, Commando’s seamless raw-cut stretch “invisible” underwear has collected a cult following over the years ($20-$32; herlook.com), while Hanky Panky’s USA-made lacy lingerie is another serious star favorite. Meanwhile, Tennessee-based No Nonsense not only makes socks, shapewear and hosiery products, but they take an environmentally conscious approach to their manufacturing as well ($2-$7; Wal-Mart and K-Mart stores).
Red, white and denim blue
No item of clothing is more identified with American culture than blue jeans. Invented in 1873 by Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss, the term “blue jean” was adopted around 1960 by the decade’s younger generation. Although Levi’s no longer makes denim jeans in the U.S., some brands are still holding on to the tradition.
In the designer denim category, William Rast jeans are 100% made in this country, and boutique brands like Texas Jeans (ironically made in North Carolina) have vowed not only to “Keep it American,” but also to keep it affordable ($42-$48; TexasJeansUSA.com). Diamond Gusset jeans — which go through a strict sewing, laundry and patch process in Georgia — range in size from 0 to 24 and offer a variety of inseams, so every citizen can find a pair that fits perfectly ($45-$70; GussetClothing.com). In addition, Certified Jeans (Seattle-based but sewn in Texas) are made from 100% chemical-free organic cotton ($74-$88; CertifiedJean.com).
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While there are many contemporary designers worth mentioning, a few fashion-forward labels are making a statement beyond their design details.
Her feminine fashions may have a girly reputation, but Nanette Lepore isn’t afraid to fight for what she believes in. The designer is currently campaigning to save New York City’s Garment District, and has enlisted the help of local government officials to preserve our fashion capital ($150-$545; NanetteLepore.com).
Meanwhile, in order to design her “earth friendly,” convertible fashions, Chicago-based designer Lara Miller takes inspiration from her city’s architectural and cultural landscape ($60-$600; HauteLine.com). Additionally, two sizzling swimwear lines have made a home for their companies in America’s Sunshine State. While Luli Fama calls Miami home ($120-$160; LuliFama.com), Blue Sky suits are made in Jacksonville ($75-$110; BlueSkySwimwear.com).
Take a stand on footwear
Statistics show that on average, each person in the United States purchases more than four pairs of shoes per year — but 90% of those are actually imported. In fact, we currently hold the title of the world’s largest importer of footwear. This once-thriving U.S. industry has become almost nonexistent here today, with only a few brands still being manufactured in the states.
Though we may think of the U.S. as head of the sneaker scene, New Balance is actually the only company that still manufactures any athletic shoes domestically. With three factories in Maine and close to 1,000 workers there, this company is trying to keep some styles running here at home ($139.99; nbwebexpress.com).
Family-owned footwear company Munro American boasts more than 75 different size and width combinations, thanks to the work of more than 500 people in Arkansas ($129-$219; Nordstrom.com).
Started in 1905 in the Minnesota town it was named after, Red Wing Shoe Company’s footwear has been worn by everyone from President Eisenhower to Queen Elizabeth — and has literally made it possible for millions of people to walk in the shoes of Middle America ($100-$350; RedWingShoes.com).
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