July '18

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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Left: Quality and consistency are two main components of Made-in-USA apparel. (Image courtesy Royal Apparel) Center: Buyers in the under-35 demographic drive a large part of the current Made-in-USA market. (Image courtesy Bayside) Right: Sustainability is a key talking point for why shops and their customers should consider USA-made goods. (Image courtesy Upcycle) 44 || P R I N T W E A R J U LY 2 0 1 8 F or most people living in America, the concept of USA-made goods carries a positive connotation. They contribute to domestic jobs, improve the economy, and in many instances, offer a higher-quality product than imported products. In the decorated apparel industry, however, it's been a con- stant challenge to try and match the dif- ficult task of sourcing affordable, skilled labor with reasonably-priced goods for the end user. With more restrictive laws, high- er wages, and a shrinking pool of trained individuals in the garment-making indus- try, the U.S. has faced growing challenges in the last 100 years to try and keep up with cheaper, faster-growing foreign man- ufacturing hubs. Despite those challenges, many domestic companies are striving to manufacture quality apparel for shops in- terested in buying American. In the past year and a half, there's been overwhelming talk about bulking up the American jobs and manufacturing mar- ket. Regardless of the heavy rhetoric, Ray Hughes, Bayside, notes that buyers are demanding a product that backs up these desires. "With the last couple of major elections, people called out for American- made goods," he explains. "People are say- ing 'I want to bring American jobs back,' but they're selling (promotional) gear made in China or Central America." Part of the demand for goods that practice what they preach, Hughes suggests, comes from a younger generation of business owners and In a Free Land How the Made-in-USA demand is affecting apparel B Y M I K E C L A R K

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