“Buy less, choose well, make it last.”
Vivienne Westwood knows a thing or two about fashion. She knows that the fashion industry, at its core, is about choice. We all make choices every day that have the ability to enrich our lives and add meaning. We are lucky to grow up in a place where our choices are virtually unlimited. The downside to this, is that we often overlook the impact even the simplest choice can have. As consumers we have the power to make any choice we want. It’s like voting with our wallets. Do we choose the easy, convenient fast fashion item that we’ll wear on average only 5 times total? Or do we invest in the more expensive item that, while possibly not trendy, is durable and forever in style? Look back on things your parents owned, think of that well-oiled, well-worn baseball glove your dad had. Think of the beautiful purse your mother used day in and day out that you secretly hoped would be yours one day. These items were an investment, they were beloved, they were used, they were imbued with life and memories. Slow fashion is about making that investment.
The choice to focus our store solely around US manufacturing isn’t about elitism or an overwhelming sense of patriotism (obviously, since we opened with a quote from a Brit). It’s about choosing service, community and industry responsibility over convenience and cost. It’s about valuing the things we buy and living in them. It’s about supporting and valuing the people who create these products (often by hand) over the ease of disposable fashion. The Huffington Post, NPR, and Heddels (to name a few) have all elegantly detailed just how our fixation with cost over quality has led us to not only pollute our environment, but also decimate an entire section of our manufacturing work force. We have created an unsustainable economic model where outsourced slave labor is silently ignored, because it creates falsely underpriced, cheap, throw-away goods.
That is not to say there aren’t good companies out there who are doing wonderful work with ethical overseas manufacturing. Apolis and Everlane are two companies whose successful and innovative business models have garnered a lot of praise for their ethical manufacturing in other countries. Apolis takes it one step further and actually manufactures many of its products right here in the US. Part of what makes these companies successful is that they value their employees and their products. They create good, solid products, pay good living wages to their employees and invest in the local communities.
For Andrew and me, the choice to focus on American manufacturing is a way for us to give back and support our own communities in much the same way. Living in Baltimore and Philadelphia, we have both seen our cities struggle to deal with the legacy of outsourcing our manufacturing. And our cities are not alone in this struggle. So, we see the equation as a simple one. Buying American equals Americans working. The more we invest in American made products, the more we invest in our neighbors, our communities, our cities and in one another.
And it is an investment. Buying American is rarely the least expensive or most convenient option. There are definitely cheaper, easier options out there. Somehow, buying American, which used to be a point of pride, is now just “expensive”. We understand this. So we just ask that you look at buying American in a different way. We ask that you simply make the choice to buy American where and when you can. Because every time you make the choice to buy something made in the USA, you support Americans working hard and making beautiful things.
We want you to connect not just with our products, but also with the people behind them. Whether it’s a durable pair of jeans or a beautiful, hand-poured candle, each product provides a direct connection to a fellow American. We invite you to explore that connection through our products. We think you’ll enjoy rediscovering just what Americans are up to.