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Made in the USA is Cool Again


It’s about time – the made in the USA label is finally making an impact on consumers. It could very well be hyperbole, but there are people who think that selling patriotism makes good sense (and cents).

Brooks Brothers and the Olsen twins are using this moniker to sell luxury goods. Menswear designer Joseph Abboud has a “Made in USA” banner on his website with a link to footage of the Massachusetts factory that makes his suits. Brooks Brothers has factories in the USA and The Row, the luxury fashion line from Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, manufactures most of its goods in America.

“There is a customer that appreciates products made in the United States and is willing to pay for the difference,” said Brooks Brothers chief executive Claudio Del Vecchio. Ten years ago Brooks Brothers did not make much in the US, but today a large percentage is American-made.

The USA’s reputation for quality is benefiting upscale labels as more Americans question where their goods come from, and how their buying affects the economy, said Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing Inc.

“Made in America feeds into the values proposition,” she said. “They are voting with their money not just for U.S. jobs, but for a way of life. In 2007, they were on a spending jag -they weren’t thinking about things like this.”

More than three-quarters of affluent consumers surveyed this year by American Express Publishing and the Harrison Group said they like brands made in America, up five percent from 2008. Sixty-five per cent say they try to buy U.S. products whenever possible.

Other apparel makers have used the patriotism angle to attract U.S. consumers as well. Levi Strauss has always hyped its Made in the US roots, while Chrysler is just now making its “Imported from Detroit,” the new hip appeal to patriots of all ages.

“There is a built-in inherent interest among those successful people to do whatever they can do to help,” said Andrew Sacks, of Agency Sacks. Recent increases in labor costs in China, a sagging dollar and stalling U.S. economic growth probably will lead to more American manufacturing, he added.

The Olsens’ women’s label, The Row uses factories in NY and LA to make items such as $250 T-shirts and $2,350 dresses. First Lady Michelle Obama and actress Julianne Moore wear their goods, and critics continue to support the Olsen’s USA roots.

Tiffany & Co. has expanded its manufacturing base to Lexington, Kentucky. The New York-based company now makes everything in the U.S., compared with 20 percent 15 years ago.

The Made-in-America label is just starting its rise to popularity. As critics point out, most of Polo Ralph Lauren’s goods are made outside the US (and Coach). The irony of that is quite profound since Lauren was the first to create a sense of Americana to his ubiquitous legend.

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