Who Made Your Clothes?
By now, a growing number of consumers are aware of the statistic that less than 3% of clothing sold in the United States is actually made here. That is such a staggeringly low percentage that it’s almost easy to brush off – an entire segment of manufacturing that is so far gone it can never be reversed. But what about that ~3% of clothing? How do the brands and manufacturers creating it do so? And what does it really mean to be “Made In The USA”?
At LA Relaxed, we take our mission to produce domestically seriously. A typical week finds us visiting local knitting mills to source and develop fabrics that are knit mostly right here in Los Angeles (yes, the yarns are usually imported as most textile-grade yarns are produced overseas). Since we knit locally, we are able to have a hands-on approach to the quality as well as control over aspects of the fabric that allow us to minimize waste in the production process.
Los Angeles Fabric Mill
Taking that a step farther, we only use fabrics made with sustainable materials like Hemp, Lycocell, and Modal. These materials are far more expensive than conventional and non eco-friendly fabrics – sometimes almost double the cost. These are costs we often don’t pass on to our customers so as not to alienate ourselves in the marketplace.
Our Midi Dress- made of luxurious Tencel ™ Modal jersey.
The expense of manufacturing domestically isn’t just in the fabrics (and plenty of Made In The USA brands use imported fabrics to offset costs elsewhere) it’s in the people. We place a high value on ethical manufacturing, and producing our clothing right here in LA means we can work closely with our manufacturing partners to ensure that all of our employees and contractors are working in safe, clean conditions and being fairly compensated. It also allows our team to keep their eyes on garments through every step of the process – this translates to well-made, high quality pieces that won’t fall apart after a few washes.
Behind the scenes at a local manufacturer.
With movements like Fashion Revolution shedding light on what the apparel industry has ALWAYS known (inhumane and dangerous working conditions, poverty-level wages, lack of regulation, etc), now more than ever it’s time to demand more from the clothing you wear. It’s not enough for your clothing to be stylish, comfortable, or a bargain; it cannot come at the cost of human well-being.
Producing ethically is a huge cost but one that is well worth it. While not every overseas manufacturer mistreats it’s workers, we feel much more comfortable taking that guesswork out of the equation. We operate like a family with all of our employees and contractors looking out for each other. Saying that we pay fair wages sounds silly – it should be a given for any company – but the truth is it’s still a rare business model for overseas manufacturing. Providing jobs domestically and keeping the dollars in our local community is an added bonus.
When you purchase a piece of clothing from LA Relaxed, you can feel comfortable knowing it was designed, knit, sewn, and packed within a 15 mile radius right here in Los Angeles, California. That, to us, is what it means to be a USA-made brand and we think that’s pretty cool.