Which Organic Clothes are Made in America?

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). 

  1. The base material (cotton, hemp, bamboo, pine tree, whatever) has to be grown somewhere. 
  2. The base material has to be soaked, spun, woven or otherwise turned into fabric for cutting or yarn for knitting/crocheting.
  3. 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. 

What about America-first policies?  Bgreen, maker of our most popular panties, the Classic Bikini (shown right), sews right here in California and gets as much organic cotton as they can from US farmers.  When they’ve purchased all that is available, they look to Turkey to fill in their raw organic cotton needs and import just the raw material, which they add to their US-grown cotton and turn into organic fabric in their California warehouse.  Does this “count” as Made in America?
Please give us your feedback.  We’d love to hear your thoughts on what you consider Made in America.  What would you want to see in a category called Made in America if you were perusing for something?  To encourage participation in this topic, we’re giving away 1 pair of our Classic Bikinis (they come in 7 colors and sizes S – XL) to one person who leaves a comment about their Made in America thoughts. 

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).

Good Luck!

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Written By Adrienne

2 Comments on “Which Organic Clothes are Made in America?

  1. Lisa Flynn

    September 16, 2009 at 2:07

    Love your blog. Thanks for keeping us informed.

  2. faeriesd_blogger

    September 18, 2009 at 3:32

    Congratulations, Lisa! You've won the free panty.

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