The last time the US operated at a trade surplus was in 1975. In 2021, the total US trade deficit was a staggering -$1.09T (Trillion).1 The numbers are even more devastating in the apparel industry. When I graduated from West Point in 1993, over 50% of the apparel in the US was made in the US. Today, it is tragically less than 3%.2
Unless you live in a nudist colony (ha ha), apparel is one of the few product categories with nearly 100% market penetration. Total US apparel and accessories sales were nearly $350B+ in 20213 and businesses and organizations spent over $8B on branded apparel during the same timeframe.4 Each and every day, we make a choice on what we will wear for the day. With such massive levels of consumption and so little being American made, it begs the question – does Made in USA really matter? Without hesitation, the answer for me is categorically YES! Three primary factors driving this decision: the opportunity to create US jobs, helping build a strong sense of American pride, and aligning your values with a choice you make each and every day.
The American worker is the backbone of our country. Both major political parties have a ‘Buy American’ platform – both sides of the aisle believe in US job creation! Checking the tag the next time you shop and actively searching for Made in USA garments will help create American jobs and strengthen our great nation. Remember, when you choose to wear American made apparel, you wear the story of the hardworking individuals who made it!
I am filled with a sense of joy and optimism when visiting our contract manufacturing facilities in 11 US states. There is a strong sense of American pride expressed by those employed in these facilities because each garment displays the Made in USA tag. American made is fast becoming synonymous with high quality and the purchase you make will be a stark contrast to the ‘fast fashion’ and disposable like nature of clothes purchased in China and other overseas markets. You will also be pleasantly surprised with more and more Made in USA options being competitively priced.
What you wear makes a subtle but profound statement about your values and what you believe. When you purchase apparel with the Made in USA tag, you are supporting the American worker and helping create US jobs with each and every purchase. If you are a business owner or director of a charity or non-profit, you have an even greater opportunity to make a difference. The logo on the sleeve of your company polo or your charity’s t-shirt will be a subtle reinforcement of your organization’s values. Make a conscious choice to purchase and wear Made in USA branded apparel and support the American worker and the US economy.
Where is yours made?® is a question you can ask yourself, your family, friends, and colleagues. It is a fun and provocative way to reinforce your preference for American made products, support the American worker, and show a sense of national pride. Want to make a difference? You can by intentionally choosing to wear American made apparel and help bring back an industry!
Dean Wegner is the Founder & CEO of Authentically American, a Veteran owned, American made, premium apparel brand. Dean was a West Point graduate, helicopter pilot, and Army Ranger. A former marketing and business development executive with Mars and P&G, Dean’s vision is to build an iconic American brand that is truly American made. Authentically American has a Consumer Brand and Client side of their business where they partner with businesses and organizations for custom branded apparel. They are riding an incredible wave of national media coverage in Fox News, Forbes Magazine, Fox & Friends, Yahoo Finance, SiriusXM Radio and More. A values centric organization, Authentically American donates 10% of their profits to Veteran and First Responder charities including BuyAmericanVeteran.org
1 US Census Bureau
2 American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA)
4 Promotional Products Association International (PPAI)