How important is "Made in the USA" to you?

Discussion in 'Streetwear and Denim' started by Teger, Feb 25, 2013.

How important is "Made in the USA" to you?

  1. I am willing to pay a premium for "Made in the USA"

    70 vote(s)
    64.8%
  2. I am not willing to pay a premium for "Made in the USA"

    38 vote(s)
    35.2%
  1. Holdfast

    Holdfast Senior member

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    This thread popped up on the Styleforum Robot news round-up, so forgive a random visit from the CM part of the board.

    I don't believe in mercantilism and/or protectionism, so assuming identical product, I wouldn't pay extra for a Made in UK product (subbing in my home). Having said that, I do sometimes pay extra for a specific country if I think the product is better - even if more objectively that may not always be the case - or even if I just happen to like the brand image; it's fun to be frivolously shallow occasionally! I guess what I'm saying is that I will pay extra for added value, even if the added value is simply illusory/perceived as I suspect it frequently is. But that's not exactly what Teger is asking, so I voted no to the poll.

    (if I was going to be very cynical, I'd suggest that even those buying domestic-made products for high moral reasons are frequently acting out of perceived rather than real added value as the incremental effect of a single purchase is not going to influence a multinational's sourcing decisions or impact on historical worker injustices. But of course I suppose it can made a financial difference to micro-sized domestic companies, and naturally if enough people are swayed by your moral stance to act similarly, larger effects can occur, so I will subsume my worldweary nature and not really engage lengthily on that argument. :) )
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013


  2. edmorel

    edmorel Quality Seller!! Dubiously Honored

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    Some English shoe manufacturers have the shoe basically made in India and then just out together in England so that they can claim made in England. Same thing with many Italian brands have 90% of the work done in China and then finishing off in Italy (and Swiss watch brands etc).

    While I agree with Mike that exploitation can and does happen anywhere, you have to keep in mind why/how the Chinese manufacturing industry was started. It was strictly as a low cost industry to undercut any and all first world manufacturing. Violations have been found in factories that make everything from Nike to Sean John. When your raison d'etre is to be the cheapest possible manufacturing option, and your government turns a blind eye to any labor laws, environmental regulations, copyright etc, its not hard to see how a factory can do some bad things. Now, China has come a long way since then. So much so that manufacturers are now moving out of China and looking for cheaper places to do business. Obviously there has been a huge wealth transfer from the US/EU to China in the last 25 years or so (we give them cash, they give us manufactured products) and that has helped bring up the standard of living in China, and our companies/goverments have put pressure on them over the years to clean up their act. But there are still issues of child labor, environmental issues, copyright, corruption etc etc. In that environment, its not hard to break some laws or at least do things that we would consider wrong, as long as you pay off the right people. As a consumer, I like knowing that there are labor laws in the US that, if not followed, lead to punishment of the violators. I have experience with factories here where, while every employee might not think they are in utopia, they are paid a good wage and enjoy what they do. No kids, lunch breaks, vacations, insurance etc. To me, that is worth paying a bit more for, I sleep better at night. That being said, I am not going to stand in front of WalMart headquarters tomorrow and tell them to get out of China, low cost manufacturing serves an important function in our society and I think that eventually, it is a net positive for the low cost manufacturing country.
     


  3. ManofKent

    ManofKent Senior member

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    I'm sure there are good and bad Chinese factories. A 'Made in...' label tells you nothing about the conditions of the workers - did you sleep through the Saipan lawsuits? How about the department of labor investigations into abuses in the garment industry in South California from the US department of Labor last November "In the past five years, the agency has conducted 1,500 investigations in the region, 93 percent of which uncovered violations". Most garment manufacture in California is by low-wage immigrant workers from East Asia and Latin America. There's certainly been multiple cases of illegal working conditions in the garment industry in the UK too - this isn't a dig against the US.



    Surely intelligent people can judge the quality of manufacture based on it's physical properties rather than a label.
     


  4. Loathing

    Loathing Senior member

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    I avoid buying anything made in China. I believe in buying things locally. I also believe in artisanal produce -- I don't believe in mass production for anything but the most utilitarian goods. Some rare artisnal things I'll happily import from abroad (Italian clothing; Japanese tea). But buying something made in a colossal factory on the other side of the earth, just to save $30 or $50 dollars, is wrong in my view. It's miserly and inconsiderate. If you want to lift people out of poverty, you might look to the people in your own country first, and beyond that, you can donate money to charity if you want to help impoverished Chinese people. Don't use it as an excuse to save yourself $30 on a pair of shoes. Cheap produce is almost always lining the pockets of the factory owner, not the factory worker.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013


  5. hoodyear

    hoodyear Senior member

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    Likewise, "made in America" shouldn't automatically scream quality. Nor is it by any means a guarantee of ethical labor practices.

    Certainly, but as in the States, they are the exception rather than the rule. This is more and more true every year.

    Chinese labor laws are actually quite robust. The minimum wage has increased steadily over the last few decades. It isn't a living wage but neither is the US's. They have universal healthcare for urban workers. We don't. China mandates 3 months paid maternity leave. We don't. The gender employment and wage gaps are comparable to ours. Overtime pay is 2x on weekends and 3x on holidays. Here it's as low as 1.5x. They get at least 3 weeks worth of holidays. And the legal working age is 16, same as here.

    Enforcement is an issue, but in a country of 1.3 billion, we ought to be holding private companies at least as accountable as the state. China certainly has its shortcomings, in organized labor for example. But when I ask myself who I'm hurting first by refusing to buy Chinese goods, the workers I've met and made friends with are foremost in my mind.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013


  6. cchen

    cchen Senior member

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    The responses in this thread follow the same trend of asinine and illogical comments whenever this kind of topic comes up.

    What does country of origin even mean anymore? Let's use a down jacket as an example. You have the shell from Korea, the lining from Taiwan, filling from China, accessories and trims from Hong Kong, and the sewing in China. What's the country of origin?

    What is the impact of Chinese owned factories staffed by Chinese labor in Prato, Italy?
     


  7. Raindrop

    Raindrop Senior member

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    I can confirm factories are more or less like this.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013


  8. Lane

    Lane Senior member

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    USA USA USA


    I buy made in japon
     


  9. pickpackpockpuck

    pickpackpockpuck Senior member

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    Actually, I agree with everything you say. Enforcement of worker rights is the big issue. Also, I posted in random fashion thoughts a while back about Nicholas Kristof's arguments in favor of sweatshops. I think the argument is a little simplistic, but he makes some valid points. Factory work is not bad at all, relatively speaking, even in cases where workers are underpaid and work long hours (if they're essentially slaves and being beaten and stuff that's another issue). Odds are the factory worker in China benefits a great deal from the job. If the pay is fair and the workers are treated well (so it's really just a factory and not a "sweatshop"), as I'm sure you say is the case in the majority of factories, even better. It's just a matter of likelihood, but unless you know which factory was used there's no way to know if it was made in a good place or a sweatshop.
     


  10. Outlaw 06

    Outlaw 06 Member

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    I think it’s very important to buy top quality products that are built to last by skilled craftsmen using superior materials. That's why I’m always willing to pay a significant premium for USA, Canadian, European, and Japanese made products as long as the quality warrants that premium.

    I also go out of my way to avoid purchasing shoddy Chinese-made products. Unfortunately, that’s getting much harder to do these days. Based on my experience as a consumer, "Made in China" = low quality junk (and a poor overall value despite the low prices). Communist China also has little respect for basic human rights, intellectual property or the environment, yet that's where Americans are willingly sending most of our money, technology, and jobs... There’s also the ethical implications of buying Chinese goods that are routinely produced by indentured (slave) labor under appalling working conditions.
     


  11. Dbear

    Dbear Senior member

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    ^ he's saying what if it's the same quality.
     


  12. ManofKent

    ManofKent Senior member

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    I don't have a problem with people buying from their own country for nationalistic reasons - it's the idea that buying something with a Made in USA/UK label is inately ethically superior.

    The ethics of bringing people in your own country out of poverty before you help those in another country is much broader than this thread. Most studies suggest that trade is more effective in reducing poverty than straight charity, but again that's a broader issue.

    It's a common assumption that Chinese factories are all colossal - the truth is that there are small and large factories. It's similar to the assumption that Chinese are incapable of producing a quality goods - the same view was once commonly held about Japan and Korea.

    Much of the clothing I buy is made by small UK companies and in the UK. I've got no grounds for assuming the workers are well treated though.
     


  13. Averroes1198

    Averroes1198 Senior member

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    Made in USA is still not great quality.. Decent but nothing more!

    I go for Made in Italy! I have some knitwear wich is Made in the UK or Scotland also great quality!
     


  14. ManofKent

    ManofKent Senior member

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    The same applies to goods with a Made in USA label - were the Brooks Brother's shirts I was buying in the late 90's made on mainland USA or in a sweatshop in Saipan? Is the top my step daughter bought from Forever 21 produced in a California sweatshop? I've not a clue whether the Made in the UK clothing I've bought recently was made in a factory which followed UK labour laws. I do know that at least two pairs of Made in England shoes that I own came from a factory where 40 workers had to fight to get their redundancy payments.

    As to materials it get's murkier - where was the cotton in my Made in The UK garments sourced?
     


  15. Outlaw 06

    Outlaw 06 Member

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    The OP’s hypothetical question regarded “identical fit” rather than “same quality”.

    That said, I’ve yet to find similar products where the Chinese-made version is equal in quality to a USA-made version. This applies to clothing, shoes, leather goods, tools, aftermarket car parts, hardware, furniture, anything… I’ll even go one step further to say that when formerly iconic American brands (like Johnson & Murphy, Coach, Ethan Allen, etc.) outsource their production to China, their quality plummets.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013


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