The "Made in" label only gives us one small snapshot of a product's supply chain.
What Does "Made in" Mean?
The label Made in U.S.A.--or made anywhere else in the world--only refers to an item's last stop on what is typically a global journey. In the case of clothing, the words "made
in" describe the place where a garment is knit or sewn.
Our supply chains are thoughtful and varied. They start where the finest fibers are found: Europe for flax, Australia for merino, China for silk. The next step is a mill, chosen for its specialized technical expertise. For example, our Washable Stretch Crepe, made of a viscose blend, is knit in France at a mill whose skills we have not been able to find anywhere else, before coming to New York for cutting and sewing.
Rarely does a fiber begin and end in the U.S.A., but even one that does undergoes a complex journey. Consider Organic Cotton Stretch Jersey, one of our core fabrics since 2004. Fine, long staple cotton needs a lengthy growing season; in the United States that means it can only be grown in the Southwest. Ours comes primarily from Arizona and New Mexico. Since the machinery required to spin a fine gauge product is not available in the U.S., the baled cotton travels to Switzerland. Our spinner is certified under the Global Organic Textile Standard, meaning that the cotton is processed separately from conventional cotton--even the fluids used for the machinery are regulated for toxins. The spun fiber returns to Canada for dyeing and knitting before traveling to New York City, where it is cut, sewn and given a Made in USA label.
As these examples show, in an increasingly global world, "made in" is but one small snapshot of a product's supply chain.