Photo by Salt Water New England

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Which Clothes Should be Made in Which Country?

 

A reader question:

  • When buying clothes, I look for khakis made in the U.S. and Shetland sweaters made in Scotland.  What classic clothes do other readers look to be made in what specific countries?

25 comments:

  1. I am not saying these things should be made in any particular country, but my wardrobe is pretty classically TNSIL, and I find that most everything can be sourced from the USA or UK. The two exceptions are polos (Peru) and Madras and linen casual shirts (India).

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  2. We look for English shoes, Italian ties, Austrian overcoats, American suits, sports jackets, sweaters, pants, and shirts. Peruvian alpaca sweaters and scarves are worth the search. And we’ve had luck also with French Facconable shirts and German socks. When the temperature rises my collection of ancient “bleeding Madras” shirts from India comes in handy.

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  3. Tweed should be made in Britain or Ireland (Donegal). Tartan, of course, should be made in Scotland. Scottish cashmere knitwear, in my experience, is the best. Madder silk from Macclesfield in England is great for ties and scarves.

    However, in response to Anonymous above, my impression is that there are many good shoemakers around the world, e.g. in France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Japan, India and now China. The top bespoke makers in Japan are superb.

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    1. Yes you’re right. Thank you. The English aren’t the only ones who make good shoes. But we’ve been wearing Barrie’s for almost 60 years now,
      You get it. No doubt.

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  4. I only care if the clothes fit me well.

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    1. Unfortunately “fast fashion” might fit fine but it damages the environment. Certain clothing items are produced in countries where employers take advantage of workers. Some African countries are literally overwhelmed with well fitting, but dated, discarded clothing from wealthy countries. Buy both for fit and for long-lasting quality. Please. Grazie.

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  5. Other than tweeds I don't worry too much about the precise origins of my garments. Though if pressed (ha, ha), I'd say the US, UK, and Italy with, in the case of a few suits in my rotation, Switzerland and Germany.

    Norwegian sweaters should have been made Norway. Of course.

    Kind Regards and Happy New Year,

    Heinz-Ulrich

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  6. Being from foreign shores I had to google TNSIL ! I think the important thing is to buy quality and importantly items that fit properly. Buy less but buy things that will wear well and that will last. Nothing looks better than well made well fitting clothes and shoes. I was brought up to believe that you can never be overdressed, only underdressed.

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    1. My apologies for using TNSIL rather than traditional natural shoulder ivy league. You are so right about buying fewer items but buying those items that will wear well and last. This is one of our dear New England values worth spreading and sharing! I am so glad a foreign country concurs!

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    2. No need to apologise. One of the things I enjoy so much about SWNE is learning a new culture!

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  7. I guess we are just set in our way, the traditions of a nation, do carry on through their clothing!

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  8. With age, I've become somewhat forgiving and even somewhat adaptable with certain articles of clothing when it comes to their provenance, but there are certain things that I am still rather fastidious about, only because I have seen imitations elsewhere and those don't hold a candle to the authentic ones from their countries of origin. Those are: Austrian or Bavarian or Tyrolean 'trachten' ('traditional clothing') such as boiled wool jackets with the pewter or antler bone buttons, tweed and tartan (tweed cloth has to be woven in the Hebrides), Aran fisherman jumpers (natural/undyed please), and Norwegian sweaters, in particular, the 'Lusenkofte' style with the pewter clasps. I also like the Norwegian fisherman sweater with the bird's eye pattern, which LL Bean still sells (classing them these days as 'Heritage' sweaters), but I do prefer the 'Svalbard' one from Norlender (just a tad softer). I've also had the tendency to purchase my Fair Isle jumpers from the UK/Scotland, mainly because I love the history of the handwoven snowflake patterns for each one.

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  9. Probably off topic, but to me an intriguing question, would be why do you feel the way you do regarding provenance? Is it because you like supporting any particular maker or local or national industry, because of tradition or authenticity, because of a desire to find the least expensive version of acceptable quality, because of green industry or earth friendly practices, because of the convenience of easy upkeep, because of comfort, because of style, because of political support or opposition, or because of something else? Do multiple criteria apply to your choices?

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    1. It's a matter of quality and authenticity for me. I've seen other versions of a particular article of clothing - let's take Aran jumpers, for example, and when I once considered purchasing a French brand - and tried to be more open-minded about them, but the quality just wasn't there. I also live in central Europe so traditional and authentic European or British clothing isn't difficult to be had. Nowadays, there are also suppliers that mention more earth-friendly practices, such as wool from non-mulesed sheep, and these are pluses for me, but I really do look at quality and authenticity first and foremost.

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    2. I am much more open now to buying leather goods made in countries other than Italy, because I have seen very good quality leather in other countries, even the US. I have also bought a Japanese dress shirt; again the quality was excellent. For certain things though, from my experience, only certain countries of origin produce their traditional clothing 'comme il faut'. I don't expect to find the same authenticity and excellence in a Norwegian Lusenkofte or Setesdal jumper made in Latvia, for example.

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  10. That's a very intersting question. Personally my first criteria is quality not country of origin. A good deal of my wardrobe is British because that is where I live and I know the brands I buy from and where they manufacture and can attest to their quality and I like the style of the clothes. I am particularly fond of Yorkshire tweed because I know the mills as I live in Yorkshire (where many fine clothes are made) but it's not the only tweed I own. However I have some superb quality German country clothing together with Australian and Spanish boots and I particularly like Brooks Brothers button down shirts. I really don't like to limit my choices based on country of origin.

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    1. I have a pair of trousers made with Yorkshire tweed and they are superb. They seem less scratchy than my Scottish tweed.

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    2. That's good to know. Yorkshire tweed is generally very high quality

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  11. Not too particular, but have noticed that i tend toward Made in USA shoes, English silk ties, and Peruvian polos.

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  12. My arrogant, pretentious younger brother tells me that his $44,000 Patek Phillipe wrist watch keeps his left wrist warm. So: Switzerland for wrists? I wear a $35 Timex (gold tone, white face, black Arabics with burgundy and navy grosgrain band) on my left wrist. Don't know where Timex is manufactured these days - - used to be Connecticut.

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    1. I have a Timex that probably cost no more than about $25. I also don't know where it's made. But it's gone through the wash once and just like John Cameron Swayze used to say, it keeps on ticking. It's cleaner now, too.

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  13. In my buying process there are a lot of reasons why I work to find clothing from specific places and not from others. In no particular order they include:

    Buying tweeds and sweaters from specific places in Scotland to support small but important industries and their unique crafts. Likewise for shoes made in New England.

    Buying suits, jackets, shirts, belts, boxers, socks, khakis, leather goods, cords, etc. made in the USA to support good jobs in my country and the continuation of the traditions that define those goods.

    Not buying products made in countries that are widely viewed as oppressive because ultimately taxation will flow to those regimes. And yes, I am aware that this is a political statement of little impact, there are jobs that depend on those revenues, and other countries, including my own, are imperfect and at times do deplorable things. It is a very subjective and squishy line.

    I look for products that are made with natural materials like wool, cotton, linen, and leather, organic if possible.

    I shop for proven styles I have been comfortable with all my conscious life. Details matter. Comfort matters. Durability matters.

    Value is important, but best value and lowest or even moderate cost do not always provide the value I seek. There are sources for things like khakis and OCBDs that are far less expensive than the ones I buy, but when I factor in all the details, my sources provide me with better value. So even if my shirts are Mercer, I could have spent much less or much more, but for what they are, I find them a terrific value.

    Lastly, the things I buy are not always available everywhere. I like supporting the stores and brands that provide them, places like O'Connell's, Andover, Bosie, Rogue Industries, Shoemart, Rancourt, Mercer, Leather Man, and doubtless a few I forgot.

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  14. Peru for alpaca sweaters. -Holly in PA

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  15. Icelandic wool. Their sheep are double-coated and waterproof, a unique breed unchanged for a thousand years. Vikings made their sails from it.

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