Hope for the future: The far-reaching impacts of shopping local.

Hope for the future: The far-reaching impacts of shopping local.
The sustainability community (including eco advocates, vegans, slow fashion lovers, locavores, among others) has long been touting the importance of purchasing what you can from local and small businesses. The events of the past couple years have brought heightened awareness to this topic on a mainstream level. Many of us understand instinctively that shopping this way is ideal (and many communities and demographics never stopped doing this even as megaliths like Amazon, Walmart, and Shein have shifted the face of manufacturing and commerce toward an outsourced and petrol-based model) but the generational impacts of maintaining a healthy, local manufacturing base are almost impossible to quantify.
~
        
Behind the scenes in our factory; trimming and bundles.
~
We understand the environmental importance of sustainable and local practices; using low impact and natural fibers is healthier for humans, air, soil, and water. Minimizing transportation produces less carbon. Recycling fibers and fabric makes sense on an economic and environmental level for companies and consumers. Refraining from pesticide and chemical usage is obviously inherently preferable. But what about skills and technique?
~
Our in-house sample cutting.
~
As recently as 30 years ago the United States hosted a healthy and booming domestic manufacturing industry across categories; fabric, automotive, apparel, machinery. Here in Los Angeles proper and beyond, hundreds of factories and contractors produced high quality, beautifully made apparel for an achievable price (of course, that doesn't mean there weren't environmental and worker's right issues) as this was the expected standard for US made goods. In fact, the current thirst for 90's and Y2K secondhand apparel has the side effect of showcasing the lasting craftsmanship and quality domestic apparel of that era.
As brands began to move their manufacturing arms offshore (and more often nearshore now), not only were scores of jobs and entire industry centers lost, but the skill sets required to produce even simple items have faded at an alarming rate. In Los Angeles alone, we have dust covered machinery that's fully functional.....yet no one to accurately operate it. General sewers are difficult enough to source, but skilled operators that can use specialty machines or achieve the more unusual stitches are scarce. This applies to trims, dye techniques, fabric mills, and beyond.
~
At this point, many home sewing machines are more advanced than the technology we possess on a scalable level for manufacturing in this country.
Even brands striving to produce domestically are sometimes forced to source labor in countries that have invested in the upgrades and maintenance required to produce the goods.
~
      
Our amazing in house team performing 100% quality inspection.
~
While we're focusing on the apparel industry, the same obstacles exist across manufacturing in this country. Skilled and specialized labor has historically been a family affair, as extended families and multiple generations often worked in the same industry, and shared knowledge and skills amongst each other. Families that immigrated to the United States and brought their trades with them, were able to set up shop and earn a decent living that could sustain more than one generation. As the jobs dried up, only a small percentage have been able to cling to their craft and continue to practice their skills. 
Part of our philosophy has always been to educate and train behind the scenes. One of the many benefits to a vertical operation has been the ability to build out and train a team in house to ensure not only an available labor pool, but also to create a bridge to the future. Our team is a mixture of legacy craftspeople (our patternmaker, sample sewers) and first generation trainees that have been able to bring family and friends into the profession and learn skills to (hopefully) be passed down to future generations.
~
Supporting local business doesn't just help economic health in the present moment but creates the possibility for future opportunity for our descendants. In the historical scheme of things, it's only been a very short time since global manufacturing has usurped robust local networks, and with a concerted effort, we can move back to the model that has served us for centuries. In that way, a garment can be more than just something to wear, but both a time capsule and olive branch to our future selves.
~
We're deeply grateful to our community for supporting us and the many other small brands that are swimming upstream to make a difference. Some of our favorites doing it right are: