Have you ever bought a shirt or a coat that fit perfectly fine at the store, but self-destructed after a few wash cycles? Sometimes you get one wear and that’s it; straight out of its first laundry day and into the trash. You’re not alone; the average American throws away way over 60 pounds of clothing and other textile products per year! If you’ve ever wondered why clothes today don’t seem to last the way they used to, there’s a reason for that: they’re usually made that way on purpose!
Fast Fashion at the Forefront
It’s called fast fashion, and the usual suspects are brands that many of us know and buy from: H&M, Topshop, Zara, and more. While the term originally meant that retailers scrambled to encapsulate the latest catwalk trends and provide ready-to-wear alternatives to the mainstream public at lightning speed, the definition has grown into a whole business optimization process. Because fast fashion is always in season, the designs are marketed to make wearers feel like they’re no longer trendy after a few months or even weeks. Quick manufacturing serve to lower production cost and retail price; a side effect is the noticeable dip in quality–which works to the retailers’ advantage. Fast fashion brands want their clothing to fall apart quickly. Customers will be a little annoyed, but will think that it’s so cheap that they still got their money’s worth; and they’ll probably just buy new clothes from the same brands.
Sadly, this booming business model has outperformed many well-loved American retailers; mostly the ones that insist on carrying the “Made in USA” label. Recent examples are American Apparel and True Religion Brand Jeans; both were based in California and both manufactured the majority of their products within the country. Not all US-based brands are struggling under the weight of fast fashion, though; California-founded Forever 21 is one of the most well-known fast fashion advocates.
What It Means to Support What’s “Made in USA”
Today, most Americans don’t make an effort to find out where the clothes they are buying come from, but they should! That “Made in USA” label may literally come at a higher price, but it is by far the more ethical and sustainable choice. Below are five reasons why you should stay away from fast fashion.
#1 You Can Help Provide Both Current and Future American Jobs
Before the 1960s, the US manufactured over 90 percent of its clothes. These days, it’s quite the opposite–way less than 10 percent, with the rest outsourced. Wouldn’t it be great to reinvigorate what was once a thriving manufacturing sector? Helping to create or save jobs for the current generation and future generations to come must be one of the best reasons to buy American.
#2 You Can Help Strengthen the American Economy
When you buy local products, you don’t support just the workers who made them. You are choosing to put your hard earned money back into the local market and helping the manufacturing sector support jobs and investments in other parts of the local economy. When one part grows, other parts grow, as well.
#3 You Get Products of Guaranteed Higher Quality
“Made in USA” may as well be a certification of quality, when compared to fast fashion. Yes, USA-made products are more expensive, but cost per use is usually lower as they last much longer. The higher price tag often indicates more care, craftsmanship and pride put into the creation of the product; and also more standards put in place to meet environmental and safety regulations and avoid issues with possibly dangerous or hazardous materials.
#4 You Will Support Safe and Fair Working Conditions
Federal and local governments regulate and control working conditions in the US, elsewhere the rules and standards may not be as humanitarian. Many fast fashion products bought in the US are made in countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India and Vietnam; where labor laws are lax and wages are cheap. When you buy clothes made in these third-world sweatshops, you are supporting poor working conditions and a lack of protection of human rights.
#5 You Will Help Save the Environment
American-made products are manufactured with cleaner, eco-friendly, sustainable processes; as compared to less-regulated counterparts. Without the need for international shipping, supporting locally made clothing means there’s less pollution and a lower carbon footprint to worry about. And because the clothes last longer, there’s less to throw away each year.
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