Monday, April 23, 2012

Be authentic, please! or China don't know preppy!

I just need to vent.  I spend quite a bit of time looking at new brands (especially Southern, preppy or traditional). Nothing turns me off more than seeing the dreaded "Imported" in an item's description.  I see many companies try to build brands based largely on an American aesthetic: Ivy League style, preppy, southern, etc. In and of itself, there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, I love to see companies create new brands based on authentic, traditional American styles or unique regional identities.  There is much to be celebrated in our great country - especially the uniqueness and character of locals such as The South, New England, The Southwest and others. What I appreciate even more is if there is some kind of substance behind the design. Classic LL Bean Maine Hunting Shoes come to mind as a great example. What bothers me is when there is a complete lack of authenticity; when the article of clothing or accessory is produced merely to capitalize on a perceived notion of authenticity .  I now understand what Muffy Aldrich (The Daily Prep) means when she writes about authenticity:

"We live in a time of box stores, whose locations are based on proximity to highway exits, where consumers buy mass produced, context-free goods. To most, there is no perceived irony or dissonance in a person who has not been to the ocean in years buying, underneath a giant poster of a ship, a cheaply made nautically themed shirt that would not survive the shortest of sails, made in China, from a high school student who has never seen salt water." 

Living in The South, I often search for authentic items that represent this region: bow ties, light weight cotton garments, etc. Needless to say, locating clothing made in the USA is difficult.  Finding clothing made in The South is even more so. One would think that with the plethora of "Southern Preppy" brands being so popular on college campuses throughout The South, that most of that clothing would be made here in one of the southern states. Sadly, the answer is no, not as many as one would hope. 

Have no fear though, there are companies out there that produce quality products, made right here in the good 'ol US of A.  I've listed a few of my personal favorites here. Please comment with others that I may have missed.

Made in The South: 
Jack Donnelly Khaki's - Roswell, GA - Khakis & Shorts
R Hanauer - Fort Mill, SC - Ties, bow ties, belts and more.
Otis James - Nashville, TN - Handmade ties
Ledbury - Richmond, VA - Shirts
Hartmann - Lebanon, TN - Luggage
Southern Tide - Greenville, SC - Classic clothing
Diamond Gusset - Bon Aqua, TN - Jeans
Earth Creations - Bessemer, AL - Shirts and Pants
Jolie and Elizabeth - New Orleans, LA - Women's Fashions
State Traditions - Birmingham, AL - State inspired polos, hats, visors and accessories.  Made in Louisville, KY

Other brands Made in the USA (this is by no means an exhaustive list, but simply brands that I have personal experience with):
Eliza B. - Essex, CT - Shoes, belts and leather goods.
Bill's Khakis -  Reading, PA - Khakis, Shorts and Shirts (They also have a facility right here in Alpharetta, GA).
Allen Edmonds Shoes - Port Washington, WI - Shoes
Alden Shoes - Middleborough, MA - Shoes

Please add to this list!  I want to know about great American companies making traditional clothing in the US.


  1. I certainly share your sentiments. However, the last item I bought from Southern Tide was made in China.

  2. Thanks for the update, Thomasville! I'm sad to hear that. I'll have to check their catalog more closely.

  3. Loggerhead Apparel (polos) is made in South Carolina. In fact one of their stated goals was to bring back the textile industry.

    High Cotton Ties (bow ties) are made in North Carolina. Their cotton is even from there.

    Brooks Bros has also started to make much of their line in the USA again (sometimes imported fabric though)

  4. Ledbury's shirts are actually made in Poland though they are a Richmond based company.

  5. A few adds to your list - Quoddy (shoes), Beau Ties Ltd (ties), Flint and Tinder (jeans, underwear), Rancourt (shoes)