We’re all loyal to our favorite American brands, they’re part of our identity. Now check the labels that show where your favorites were made. Chances are they were made offshore. Here’s where the irony sets in. Brands with the strongest American identity, don’t use American labor to produce their products. If we look beyond labor and also consider the supply chain of raw materials used to produce these products, chances are these are also outsourced beyond our borders.
The post-pandemic world has a better understanding of how supply chains work and can affect our economy, community, and personal lives. So, if we can now collectively say “we know better”, then it seems natural that American brands should re-think their supply chain strategies. But are they really making changes?
Imported vs 100% Made In USA
In manufacturing there are rules that govern what a manufacturer is allowed to write on their Country of Origin label or COOL.
Made In China: If your product bares these words this means that 100% of the components and labor used to make that product were sourced in that country.
Made In USA of Imported Material: This means that some portion of your components are imported but final product is assembled, or underwent “substantial transformation” in the USA.
Fabric Made in USA: There is a loophole that allows fabric to be made in the USA and then shipped to some countries (Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic) to be sewn together and then brought back into the USA without paying a tax or duty. Most large corporate FR brands take advantage of this option, actively choosing to invest in low cost foreign workers in questionable conditions rather than investing into US labor and infrastructure.
Made in USA: This means all components are sourced and assembled in the USA. The FTC’s legal definition of made in the USA requires that “all or virtually all” of the product be made here.
Domestic Supply Chain
Being able to make the claim Made In USA is not just about using labor here. It’s about the entire supply chain that supports being able to make it here. Since we’ve transitioned our last product back onshore in early 2023, we can speak from experience about the importance of an all-American supply chain. From fiber to fabric mill, small manufactured components such as zippers and buttons to local contracting and machine shops and mechanics. Sourcing from domestic suppliers and local vendors means creating a strong backbone for American manufacturing in its entirety.