Inside - Out
By Carol Gill, Undercovers Intimate Apparel
April 2017 - Made in USA?

I am constantly hearing requests for products made from natural fibers and/or made in the USA.

These are noble requests but in all honesty, the amount of product available is limited by both quantity and price. As consumers, we have brought this situation on by our own shopping practices. Demanding low prices requires a low wage labor force.

Taking production off shore satisfied that need and also made apparel readily available in large quantities. As a result, we no longer find it necessary to teach the skills that support that portion of the industry here. Instead we have shifted to higher education arenas such as design, production technology, management and marketing. Wage requirements and environmental specifications have added to this situation.

How do we change this? First of all, as individuals, we must become conscious consumers. Our expendable attitudes must and will have to change. Rising costs for quality fibers and fabrics will play a role as price increases to the manufactures and eventually to the market place must follow.

Fibers such as fine quality cotton and linen have already become much more expensive. Weather changes, world economics, water shortages and industrial and housing development of agricultural property all affects the ability to raise natural fibers both here and abroad. This results in increased prices.

We are leaders in the field of technological development of new fibers. All in an effort to keep ahead of consumer demands. Construction of final products still requires a labor force with both skill sets and wage acceptance that we do not meet. Our fast fashion and pricing attitudes are not in balance with the desire to pay sustainable wages and maintain our local environment.

For all who love fine quality natural fibers, accept the fact that prices must go up. Quality does equal value. Quality fibers and fabrics wear longer and are in the long run less expensive. How does this all relate to Made In The USA? The apparel industry has become a worldwide industry. We may never see it all here again. We now have an obligation to the rest of the world to become better stewards of our recourses and skills.

If we do, we will all benefit.

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