After a recent experience, I began to wonder to what extreme someone would go to stand behind a cause they believe in. Would they be willing to wander around naked if that’s what was necessary?
For close to 5 years, I’ve purchased the exact same Aspire capri workout tights. My purchasing pattern is so consistent store staff can set calendars and watches by me. Every 4-6 months, I visit my local sporting goods store (Sports Authority), find the rack where these particular tights are kept, select my size, walk to the register, pay and leave – only to do it again within 4-6 months. I never sacrifice my valuable time to try these tights on in the store – as they’ve always fit perfectly and provide great workout comfort. I save my old tights until they become as “transparent as parchment paper” (someone at the gym actually pointed this out to me once). Several months ago during my last purchase, all seemed as it normally is. That is…until the following morning when I put the tights on in preparation for heading off to the gym. Something just did not feel right. The legs of these new tights were so tight, a tingling sensation of numbness traveled along both legs. How could this be, I wondered? I removed the tights as quickly as I could (I didn’t want to be late for my workout), placed them on the bed and selected another pair from my closet and headed out to the gym. Upon returning home, I carefully inspected and compared the new tights to my old ones. I scoured the label in search of something that might suggest I selected the wrong size. Suddenly, I noticed something…the label on the new pair read “Made in Jordan”; the label on all of my old pairs indicated “Made in the USA.”
Personally, I rarely pause to inspect manufacturer origin labels. Granted, I review the “care instructions,” but overall if the item satisfies my need and is reasonably priced…I buy it. As an avid thrift store shopper (read: “cheap”)…I also play a supporting role on the sustainability (recycling) stage.
Occasionally, however, my attention is drawn to a marketplace mantra that encourages and attempts to inspire one to buy items and products “Made in the U.S.A.” This mantra continually causes me to pause and demand that this concept be clearly defined and dissected – especially since, as shared in an earlier blog, we do conduct business in a global economic environment.
My experience with my workout tights caused me to reflect. I wondered what portion of the items in my own household – especially clothing – are actually identified as “Made in the USA” vs. made elsewhere – maybe even in a country (or work environment) that would cause me to pause, hesitate or be reluctant? Given the global economic nature of our retail world, is this yet another issue I need to give more of my attention to?
Since I work within the fabric marketplace and I try to purchase my product fabric from Made in the USA sources (which can be a challenge), I thought I’d start my exploration with an inventory of items in my own clothes closet – specifically tops and vests. These items had been purchased at quality retail stores (Nordstrom’s, Lord and Taylor, Macy’s) as well as at local thrift stores. To say I was surprised by what I found would inadequately report my findings (below).
While my wardrobe appears to be a United Nations of sorts – with a plethora of countries hanging out – less than 10% of these items are labeled “Made in the USA.” If this figure is representative and reflects my remaining clothes, I believe it is safe to say a commitment to wear only those items labeled “Made in the USA” would dramatically change my life style. Actually, as I ponder this dilemma, I become fascinated with the idea of what might happen if I were to spend the next 3 months, 6 months – even just a week – selecting only those items in my closet that are clearly labeled “Made in the USA.” Would I wind up a naked wanderer?
I’m not a snob or a purist or anything like that…but, clothes shopping for me has always been a challenge – more like a sport – with the other team continually winning. As I bounce around in search of style, size, price, color, and so much more my focus continually realigns. Were it to become necessary for me to stop to read each and every label – the way I currently obsess over food packaging labels – I’m certain choices would diminish and the challenge to find items that might fit and look good on me would escalate – to say nothing of my energy and spirit which would quickly atrophy. Many offer lists online of clothes (and other items) that profess to be “Made in the USA.” In looking over these lists, I’m challenged to identify or connect with only a few of these providers (American Apparel, Brooks Brothers, Carthartt, Fresh Produce, and Woolrich to name a few) whose styles don’t fit, are unflattering or fall way out of my budget range.
I honestly don’t know the answer or have a solution to this dilemma…and it continues to perplex me. I regularly ask myself “What is in the best interest of me, the planet, and the global economic marketplace (and workforce). Some creative options I entertain exploring include:
- Whip out that old sewing machine and start functioning like a woman in survival mode;
- Buy clothes that claim to be ‘Made in the USA’ but don’t fit well or break my budget;
- Romp around in a suit similar to Eve’s (and work on convincing Adam that this approach is best for everyone).
As you can see, in the end only you can decide what’s in your best interest and in the interest of the interconnected global world in which we live. Take a look around you… see who you share your house with – learn more about your household old neighbors – especially those international “compatriots” who hang out in your closet and share living space with you. You might be surprised at what you discover!!
Crafted, researched and written by: |LIZ CARLOCK
The Write Resources, LLC™
© 2014 EM Carlock