I'm losing weight -- 34 pounds so far -- and am beginning to swim in my old clothes. I had already planned to replace much of it because they are showing signs of wear, but only with clothes I know can be sourced without sweatshops. I've had to step back a bit from my US-made, union-made goal. I've got two posts soon about that.
But today, victory.
I wear Van Heusen shirts and like them. Mine are ordinary white pinpoints, US- and union-made. But they vanished in the stores and I figured the jobs were shipped off-shore. But then I saw the company listed at UNITE HERE's clothing site, so I wrote:
I saw Phillips-Van Heusen listed by Unite HERE! as a maker of union-made
dress shirts. (http://www.unitehere.org/buyunion/promo.php) I would like to
buy these; can you tell me which lines are union made, or how I might buy
them in person or online?
I got the reply yesterday:
Dear Mr. Wells:
The UNITE HERE label is sold in department stores only.
In your surrounding area, the label is sold at Macy's and Lord & Taylor.
Please visit www.pvh.com, store locator for the exact address of these
Van Heusen Retail Customer Service
Now, Van Heusen has a number of dress shirt lines, some of which are sold locally at Macy's and Lord and Taylor and some not. I do need a couple of new shirts. I'll let you know what I come up with.
And if not them, there are other options, but by mail-order and probably at greater cost.
I've rehearsed before why I prefer and promote US made goods, but sometimes they're hard to find in certain sectors. So I use a variety of resources to find leads. The irony is that one of my favorites is a Canadian source. (I'll choose Canadian goods over other countries' when that's an option.)
There's a fun television show, on the basic cable Discovery Channel, called How It's Made, or Comment C'est Fait in its native French. Since there's no on-screen personality, the show can be (and is) internationalized with new voice overs. (The Wikipedia episode list.)
Naturally, they show goods made in Canadian factories and at the end of the manufacturing process there's usually a discrete image of a logo or label that gives the viewer a sign that this or that product is made in North America. (I assume the "luxury motorcar" segment -- identified as a Rolls Royce from the beginning; how would you get past that? -- was filmed overseas.) Some of these are in United States factories. The only problem is that I can't find a list of these factories and so I've thought about making a list. For the to-do list.
Even with that qualification, I think How It's Made is more satisfying and less gung-ho than the Travel Channel's Made in America, and the products are often more basic though they do have a link to the companies they feature.
The show is educational and entertaining, and cultivates an appreciate for honest work and good craftsmanship, so even if the products are what you need, there's a labor-valuing quality that makes it wonkish, character-building or both.
I confess one effect I didn't see from having so much of our manufacture outsourced to China is inflationary pressure. If China gets the chill, we get a cold. In case you need another reason to support United States industry (or your own national industry if you're reading from outside the United States) see today's New York Times article by David Barboza entitled "China’s Inflation Hits American Price Tags."
Of course, we can just as easily have inflation with an inwardly-oriented economy, if not more easily. All I'm asking is that we make better considerations about what we need to consume, under what conditions its comes and how we dispose of what remains. My sense, though, is that it will take strong inflationary pressure for people to start doing this, because right now consumer goods are, in relative and historical terms, quite cheap. (And it's easier to feel prosperous with consumer goods than demanding a well-functioning government or even getting decent housing, which really is a terrible burden.)
I do want to remind my readers, especially the skeptics, that this is a very conservative point of view. But don't expect to see thrift and conservation at the forefront of anyone's platform this year. And it does come with some discomfort: wounded pride and uneasiness most of all.
Not that I'm feeling sorry for Americans. A different kind of inflationary pressure treatens the lives of the world's poorest people. Rice prices, fueled by shortages and a strong demand, are reaching records. . . .
Good news ye crafty types: the Kunin Group makes craft felt from Ecospun-brand fiber, made exclusively from recycled PET bottles. That's the #1 plastic most associated with soft-drink bottles. The fiber comes from the Foss Manufacturing Company, a United States mill that has remained in business by going after niche markets. (They also make fleece for clothing which might also be popular this time of year.)
A US-made product made of recovered materials? What's not to love? I'm going to have to get some (JoAnn Fabric sells it) if I ever make a flannelgraph set-up for teaching.
Victoria Weinstein, better known as PeaceBang, asks her readers about a computer bag she likes the looks of.
I've been think about getting a new bag myself, but of a very different style. I don't really need one, but Hubby and I came across a very hip custom messenger bag shop when we were vacationing in Philadelphia earlier this month. (They have a Seattle location, too.) And you know how much I love US-made goods, goods with character and supporting the long-tail economy. And I love the bags at R.E.Load. (We were at the Northern Liberties store; the workroom is on the sales floor.)
A shame I don't actually need one. But you might need a bag, and so look. I've got my eye on a Small Civilian, perhaps in orange. Or something else. Some day.