Photo by Salt Water New England

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

What are the Classic American Made Clothes?

A reader question: 

I am interested in buying more made in US clothing. I know where to shop for good quality made in US shirts, shoes and chinos/trousers. Do you have suggestions for sweaters and other items?

15 comments:

  1. Virtually everything I wear was made in the USA, but I am afraid I look to places like Scotland for sweaters. For belts I choose Leather Man and Alden. For odd jackets and suits, ties, and dressier outerwear, O'Connell's. They still have some Southwick inventory. For socks check out Darn Tough and go to Vermont Flannel for (tad dah!) flannel. Google "Made in USA" for lots of sweatshirt and T shirt offerings, often featuring organic cotton. Andover Shop and O'Connell's both offer great MiUSA boxers. You say you know where to go for shirts, shoes, and chinos/trousers but for the benefit of others I like Mercer for shirts and Alden, Quoddy, Rancourt, and Lucchese for footwear. For chinos and cords I like O'Connell's, Andover, and Press BUT check first by phone or email. Press is offering more things made elsewhere, and Andover offers a few things from elsewhere. Press goods are increasingly from China. Andover offers a few Canadian items plus linen from Italy and Madras from India. O'Connell's is the only traditional clothier I know of offering both linen and Madras items made in the USA.

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    1. Can "real" Madras be made in the U.S.? As far as Chinese-made products go, the chinaware at Mt. Vernon, Washington's home, came from China.

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    2. Of course real Madras cloth comes from Chennai. However, making that cloth into a shirt can be done most anywhere. If we go the route of categorizing garments as made in the USA only if the fabric was made here, then my Southwick and Chipp tweeds and probably my flannels and cords will fail. As to China, I have a cabinet full of blue and white Canton from nineteenth century San Francisco. I wonder if anything similar is made in the PRC today and how much, if at all, the working conditions have changed in a century and a half!

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    3. Vespa's September 6 is "dead on". Excellent. Impossible to fine better choices. I'm impressed! Gitman Bros shirts if special ordered are nice and have eight buttons.

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    4. Vecchio Vespa, I guess you mean Madras fabric writing "real Madras clothes"?

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  2. Echoing, Mercer & Sons for made to measure mens' shirts & boxers, Alden and Rancourt for mens' shoes. Bill's Khakis and Jack Donnelly are made in the US. J. Press made-to-measure clothing is all made in the US; Otherwise, their website has a 'made in usa' section. Hickey Freeman's factory is in Rochester, NY, and at a higher end, I think Oxxford is all made in the US.

    Outdoors gear: though Chaco moved their stock sandal manufacturing offshore, the custom sandals are made in the US. Wool socks, for walking and hiking, Darn Tough and FITS. Limmer Boots' stock shoes and boots are made in Germany; their custom hiking boots are made in the US (be prepared to wait a long time for those, can take a few years - there's a waitlist). Filson, you would have to check, as they have started farming out manufacturing overseas.

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  3. O'connell's, Quoddy! Never fail!

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  4. may have missed, but any sources for classic women's business attire?

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  5. From the Quoddy website:
    "At heart, we are shoemakers and we would love nothing more than to make every pair of Quoddy shoes in Maine.

    But the fact of the matter is that more people want Quoddy shoes than our workshop in Lewiston can make in any reasonable time. That is why in-stock shoes are made both in our Lewiston workshop, and elsewhere to our exact specifications.

    Wherever they are made, you can be sure that they are of the quality you expect from Quoddy."

    I am not sure which of the in-stock shoes remain made in Maine/USA, but I understand that "elsewhere" includes overseas.

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  6. I wish Quoddy made all of its shoes in the USA, but I've purchased some of Quoddy's made-in-Brazil (or Argentina, I don't remember the exact country of origin) shoes and slippers for my wife and son, and I've got to admit they are very well made.

    I think all of Quoddy's make-your-own shoes are still made in the USA.

    All Alden shoes are made in the USA. They are very expensive and never go on sale, but Aldens are worth every penny.

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    1. The news of Quoddy saddens me. My old Quoddys are beloved. As regards Alden, they do offer seconds, indistinguishable to most from regular Aldens. Check Shoemart. I have worn many Aldens over my life and loved them all. Currently in this retiree's closet are tassels in No. 8, LHS in snuff suede, and LHS in Chromexcel. I no longer need to wear Oxfords. Yay!!!

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    2. I think Rancourt is still entirely made in Maine, at a similar price to Quoddy. I agree that Aldens are worth it if you’re confident you’ll wear them for even five years.

      I agree that most of the best knitwear is in the UK, Ireland, and Scandinavia.

      I needed some new pants last week, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that both O’Connell’s and the Andover Shop have held the line so far on the pricing of their standard khakis, which are both heavy weight and made by Hertling. For $130-135 hemmed to order, I think they’re a good value compared to what places like J Crew are offering at $70+ (made abroad under light labor standards, out of inferior cloth, with every edge so minimized that you can’t even depend on the zipper flap to cover the zipper, with a waistband so low even trim guys look pudgy, and in take-it-or-leave-it 2” sizing increments).

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  7. I am very happy with my Mercer shirts!

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  8. Another fine Maine source is Rogue Industries for wallets and such. Nice things, nice people, fair prices.

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  9. Insert a light chuckle here. There was a time when I would have said L.L.Bean...cannot say I even know any American made clothing brands anymore.

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