This is a question we get often so I’d like to clarify the answer. We have many lines with tags that say “Made in the USA” on them. But legally speaking, that only means that the final garment was sewn in the USA. There are essentially 3 steps to making a piece of clothing (organic or otherwise).
- The base material (cotton, hemp, bamboo, pine tree, whatever) has to be grown somewhere.
- The base material has to be soaked, spun, woven or otherwise turned into fabric for cutting or yarn for knitting/crocheting.
- The garment has to be sewn (or knit or crocheted).
While there are always exceptions to every rule, we have found that in the vast majority of cases #1 and #2 are done in the same region. It’s too expensive to grow cotton in one country, send the raw material to another country to make fabric and then send the fabric to a 3rd country for cutting and sewing. Most raw material is turned into fabric or yarn local to where it is grown. However, it is very common to produce fabric in one country and then ship the finished fabric off to another country to have it sewn.
The tag on this adorable Overall Dress on the left states Made in the USA. But the Hemp/Tencel blended fabric is imported. We do our very best to track down exactly where our products are imported from. We try to list both where an item is sewn and where it’s grown along with working conditions for both.
As we mentioned in our last Quick Fact, the USA does not grow enough organic cotton to meet our own eco-fashion needs. Thus organic cotton is often imported. Hemp is still illegal to grow in most of the USA (more on this in an upcoming Quick Fact), so it is almost always imported as well.
I’ve thought about putting together a separate category of just Made in America items, but I’m uncertain about where to draw the line. If the tag says Made in the USA (i.e. sewn) but the fabric comes from China, should it be listed as Made in America? Or does Made in America only mean sewn and grown end-to-end here somewhere in the USA? There are still a few manufacturers who grow and sew end-to-end completely in the USA. For example, SOS From Texas grows, spins, weaves and sews completely in the USA.
TO ENTER THIS CONTEST: Leave a comment on THIS blog post (comments on facebook or through e-mail will not count) and we will randomly draw one name from all comments posted by 8am PT this Friday, September 18, to receive one free Classic Bikini (or any other of the $10 value panties that bgreen offers: String Bikini, Hi Cut Brief or String Thong).