Apparel “Made in America” of Imported Fabrics

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Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently launched a new website “Made In America: A Buyer’s Guide for Donald Trump”, which highlighted hundreds of U.S. manufacturers for products ranging from men’s ties, suits to furniture. 

Joseph Abboud is one of the companies highlighted by the website for making “Made in America” suites and shirts. But does “Made in America” mean a Joseph Abboud branded suit or shirt is 100% made in the United States from yarns, fabrics to the cut-and-sew process? Not necessarily!

joseph abboud

According to information submitted by Joseph Abboud to the “Made in USA” database managed by the Office of Textiles and Apparel under the U.S. Department of Commerce, some of its products actually are “partially made in U.S.A. with imported fabrics”.

This is evidenced both by Joseph Abboud’s product label and information provided by some retailers which sell Joseph Abboud’s branded products (See pictures below).

joseph-abboud-brown-black-wool-made-in-usa-sport-coat-jacket-big-tall-44xl-fadae0181dabefde4a3e87afdb831478

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Hamilton Shirts of Houston is another company highlighted by Clinton’s “Made in USA” website. But similar as the case of Joseph Abboud, a Hamilton branded shirt priced at $215-$245 is typically “Hand cut and sewn in the USA. 100% cotton Italian fabric.”

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Actually, Joseph Abboud is a brand owned by JA Holding, Inc., which was acquired by Tailored Brands for $94.9 million on August 6, 2013. As of June 2016, Tailored Brands also owns the Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank.

Like most other US apparel companies/fashion brands today, Tailored Brands commits to global sourcing. In fiscal year 2015, the company “sourced approximately 60% of direct sourced merchandise from Asia (36% from China) while 13% was sourced in the U.S., 12% in Mexico, and 15% was sourced in other regions.” (Source: Tailored Brands Annual Report, 2015)

Tailored Brands uses the factory in New Bedford, MA (the one highlighted by Clinton’s website) to make tailored clothing under the Joseph Abboud label, including designer suits, tuxedos, sport coats and slacks which they sell in Men’s Wearhouse stores as well as Joseph Abboud’s flagship store. Tailor Brands also sells Joseph Abboud branded products in Moores stores, which are made in Canada by a third party.

Related article: Clothing Label Reveals the Global Nature of the Textile and Apparel Industry 

Disclaimer: All blog posts on this site are for FASH455 educational purposes only and they are nonpolitical and nonpartisan in nature. No blog post has the intention to favor or oppose any particular presidential candidate, nor shall be interpreted in that way.

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Author: Sheng Lu

Professor @ University of Delaware

5 thoughts on “Apparel “Made in America” of Imported Fabrics”

  1. This is a very interesting article. The concept of the article definitely ties back to the phenomenon that no product is ever truly made in one place. Follow-up question: who decided the “origin” label should be simply the apparel manufacturer country? Due to the effects of globalization, there are many countries involved in a product’s creation, and I wonder what is considered “important” enough to be displayed in a product’s label. This thought definitely goes back to how consumers need to and want to be educated with where and how their purchased products were made.

  2. This article raises some questions for me. After reading about how these companies put labels that say they are made in America but they’re made from imported fabrics, should companies be required to have a label for where the materials are sourced from AND where the apparel was put together? In this day in age, almost no garment is ever made in one specific place, so shouldn’t consumers know exactly where each piece of the production is coming from in order to fairly say where the product was “made in”?

  3. I thought that this article was extremely interesting. Even though the products say Made In USA…what follows those words are “of Fine Italian Fabrics”. So although the product is in fact Made in the USA, they used imported fabrics to make the garment as well. This article reminds readers that one product is never really produced in one specific place, it goes through many different countries to become what it is in the end. This reminds me of the video that we watched during the first week or two of class, where a pair of Nike sneakers is seen being made but went through many countries to be constructed. Its interesting because it makes me question whether or not consumers should be told where every piece of the product came from, should there be a label that lists every country that contributed to the making of a product? Would this at all be beneficial to consumers?

  4. This article makes some good points and raises a few questions. This article is trying to explain that no product is “made in” one specific place rather it is made in multiple destinations. Some questions that arise are, should companys only put the final destination on the label and say “made in”, or should there be another tag that tells the consumer where exactly the product traveled from? Is there a reason why one specific country is given “credit” for where the product was made or has it always just done that way? I think with globalization today it is rare to have a product be 100% made in one country so with that is it time to create a new labeling system that tells the consumer all about the product?

  5. I think this article shows how out of touch every member of our country is about the fashion industry and what really goes into making our clothes. Even a politician as important and highly thought of as Hilary Clinton doesn’t understand that just because a label says “Made In America” that it doesn’t mean that it was actually produced in our country from start to finish, or that even if a garment is “made” somewhere else it isn’t necessarily something to be frowned upon by those who do live in America. One of the many things I learned in this class is that increased trade or overseas production is not as bad for the U.S. economy as people make it out to be. There aren’t many Americans that would be satisfied working in a factory, so no one is losing a job because it isn’t something they would do in the first place.

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