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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Does American Made Matter?

In two of my books, The China Conspiracy and The Pendulum Files, I've had themes that included the importation of goods from other countries, particularly China. It's caused me to research imports and exports and how trade has evolved over the past few decades.

As a consumer, it's also caused me to look closely at where things are manufactured.

When I look through my closet, I find that the quality clothing I've owned for probably far too long was made in the United States and I still receive compliments every time I wear them. The more recent clothing I know will be unfit to wear after just one season; they are more likely to have been made in China, Thailand, Bangladesh, or other countries halfway around the world from me.

Lately, I've been noticing that more goods are being made in the United States and the quality I knew years ago was beginning to reemerge. And some brands never left the USA - you just have to dig to find them.

For example, when I've mentioned to friends that the New Balance athletic shoes and apparel I bought recently were made in the United States, they expressed surprise. They thought all athletic shoes were made in China or another Asian country. Today only 25% of New Balance shoes are made in the USA. Those that are have been clearly labeled with "Made in the USA". But this doesn't mean that they all are made here. You have to look at the shoe to determine its origins.

Are they better than those made overseas? You betcha. There is an amazing difference, in quality, in workmanship and in materials. Even when some of the material is imported, when American workers are stitching them together or finishing them, they have the opportunity to inspect them. Many times when 100% of goods are made overseas and simply distributed by a company within the USA, no more than a handful of people within that company may ever see the quality - or lack of quality - in their own products.

If you're an American, does it matter to you whether the clothes you wear were made in the USA?

Do you detect a difference in the quality?