Thrifting Politically

September 6, 2012

“I’ve worked with business leaders who are bringing jobs back to America – not because our workers make less pay, but because we make better products. Because we work harder and smarter than anyone else.

I’ve signed trade agreements that are helping our companies sell more goods to millions of new customers – goods that are stamped with three proud words: Made in America.

-President Obama, 2012 Democratic National Conventions, 09/06/12

I’m not usually one to be strong into politics, but the last three nights I have been listening to the speeches being made at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. These speeches have triggered an avalanche that has been building in my brain for some time. I have been toying with covering this topic on this blog for a while, and I think today is the day.

Since starting The Curvy Elle Shop and this blog, I have been looking through a plethora of vintage, old, and/or previously owned apparel goods.  I was shocked to see that the majority of the clothing that I was passing by read, “Made in USA.” With a good number of these pieces also holding a tag proudly inscribed with, “Union Made- International Ladies Garment Workers Union.”

‘Made in USA’ vintage dress.
‘Union Made’ vintage dress.

I work(ed) in the fashion industry, and had no idea this ever existed. Obviously, there are no longer garment industry unions (example: previous post). So, what happened along the way? How did we go from having most of our apparel ‘Made in USA’ and by UNION employees, to walking into any retailer in America and almost always seeing ‘Made in (Fill in Some Foreign Country)’?

When did we stop supporting our people–which translates to OUR COUNTRY?

Thrifting has let me see first hand how our country has changed. One business sector represents us and our country as a whole.  Who are we now–and who do we want to be?

Ask yourself: What does it mean to be patriotic today?

Please, bring thoughtfulness back into our country…

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  • moiminnie

    I wish you wrote more on the topic! Unfortunately, with the cheap workers in the middle east and today’s economy, it’s hard for any country to keep the business inside its borders. xx

    • Laurel Teixeira

      I know! I wanted to keep it short but sweet as an introduction to the topic and to catch people’s attention. I definitely plan on writing more posts on this topic in the future! Keep your eyes peeled for more! :)

  • I. da Silva

    Well, initially I had written a thoughtful response to this before Google/Blogger decided they were going to erase it the second I signed in… in any case, my main point was that there are many reasons as to why things are no longer manufactured in the USA, which is just a shame. It is great that you included images with your post, I never even knew there was a “ladies garment workers union.” Part of the problem is that as the population ages, many people forget that there was a booming domestic garment industry. It is obvious why manufacturing has moved off shore on the business’ front, and on the consumers’ front, ignorance, apathy, and vanity seems to characterize their reluctance to “buy American.”

    People just don’t know that there are still things being made in the USA (however few). It’s also inconvenient to go online and Google “union made, USA clothes” – not quite the same as driving down to the mall and picking up something from Old Navy. Finally, everyone wants to look stylish and cool, and people equate that with brand names, which we know manufactures everything overseas for the most part, with the exception of ultra high end crap that most people can’t afford. There are definitely so many sides to this, and you raise an interesting question about patriotism. If we want to move forward as a country, we need to start supporting each other. Sorry for the essay-length response! Thanks for covering this issue and taking a political stand.

  • Meli

    Adding to this issue is that so many people just don’t care about quality in their clothes anymore; or worse, don’t know how to recognize quality. People don’t want to pay more money for clothes made in the us when they often can’t tell the difference!

    Thanks for raising some good questions!

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