14 February 2021
Many are the essays on this website that address the hideous state of dress, and undress, in America. I have struggled, at times, many times, to accept the deplorable condition to which “fashion”, for men as well as for women and children, has become degraded. My years of raising children involved a steady and persistent, perhaps even piqued, pursuit of garments, and undergarments, that no longer existed! If such items did exist, they were of wretched non-quality.
As a child, I was taught by my father that a person does not purchase a new item of apparel unless the previous one wore out. That time frame used to be . . . years, not weeks, or even days. In the current time frame, putting any cheap foreign-made garment into the washer, and then the dryer, has ensured that another new garment, also of shoddy fabrication, will have to be bought, unless more vintage clothing can be found online, to buy in a hurry.
During the past decade or so, that hellishly frustrating situation of finding something to wear was known as “going shopping”. The hours spent, at least for me, were not fun. In fact, they became downright depressing.
My young adulthood coincided with the first ominous signs of American companies exporting the clothing industry in this nation, specifically out of the Garment District of NYC, an industry located right across the river from my childhood home town. I learned enough from my much older sisters about the sublime types of coats, skirts, blouses, dresses, sweaters, shoes, hats, gloves, and silk (real silk) slips that are nowadays fodder for fictional characters. When I researched wardrobe items and ensembles for my characters in THE DAWN, which takes place from 1940-1944, I was taken back to a place and time when a personal closet contained all that a woman or a man ever needed for a lifetime. That closet was minuscule, compared to the room that now comprises a Walk-In Closet.
The New York Garment District is dead, despite efforts by PR idiots to re-label it. The American Thread Company building, with its 11-story loft in the lofty Tribeca part of town, got converted into co-ops in the 1980s. That grisly fate sewed it all up for the future of New York union workers with needles and threads.
Recently, I purchased some merchandise from an online clothing retailer called American Giant. The 100% cotton athletic pants and tee-shirts are wonderfully soft, of fine fabric grown & sewn in California. The price is more than what too many Americans would be willing to pay, but not more than what I choose to invest in a wardrobe that aspires to contain high quality merchandise, made in the U.S.A.
Because of the disposable nature of the horribly cheap apparel made in Foreign Countries, Americans have been enduring an era of disposable clothing. That era really got going during the post-Cold War years, a time of presumed wealth, or “peace and prosperity” in this nation. The sad reality is that far too people living in this land of plenty accepted the degradation of the threads upon their backs. That non-benign situation is, in my opinion, an outgrowth of the attitude of people as disposable.
How does this inundation of slipshod imported apparel even begin to slow to a trickle? How do people start to appreciate the feel of natural fibers that do not wear out while you are wearing them?
American Giant has sized up the folly and the perfidy behind this deterioration and debasement of the attire with which we Americans adorn our bodies. My merchandise from this company arrived with a brochure entitled “Start Here.”
And Starting There is where I learned the nearly tragic truth about just what has been going on — all over the world — in the world of Big Apparel. I had a fairly good idea, but no cold, hard facts.
Global Apparel has brought to our shores, the shores of America, but also to Europe, Great Britain — and to any other nation whose feckless corporate heads and heartless politicians have not yet subjected its own jobless citizenry to engage in sweatshop labor — the lovely scent and scratchy feel of synthetic clothes that wear out in no time after having circumnavigated the globe. The miles that a typical T-shirt travels to reach your home would do Magellan proud!
We start with the tissue-thin bolts of fabric. Before going bankrupt, J. Crew used to sell the Tissue Tee. The truest advertising that company ever unwittingly coughed up to the consumer. Approximately 19,884 miles are expended between Point A of where the base material (which is very base, as in bereft of quality) is grown or manufactured, to Point B, where the “fabric” is milled; to Point C, the factory with the sweat-shop labor speed-sewing the garment. The finished “product” then gets shipped to the Distribution Center, which is also beyond American shores.
And away the Globalist Pigs go, grabbing more green stuff, while polluting more air, destroying more U.S. industries and jobs, and demagoguing The Other Guy is doing it to America!
Let’s move on to the landfill. If you think getting rid of your junky dress, or pilled sweater, or ath-leisure pants whose crotch gave out as you got into the car — is a simple matter of tossing that garbage into the garbage can, think again.
The landfills of America are overflowing with foreign waste products known as disposable clothes. The average American tosses out 80 pounds of clothes a year that could not be worn. Not that the Mrs. did not try to wedge her shapely muscular thighs into a pencil-thin pair of pants. And what about her adolescent dear daughter who is a size Small, and so she bought that size, online, in a “silk” polyester blouse, but a 5-year-old would struggle to get into those toothpick sleeves. Dear son wore out the knees of the gossamer-threaded jeans inside of two weeks! Dear husband continues to wear his beloved garments, those basics that pre-date the birth of his children, the basics that are no longer for sale, anywhere, anymore.
According to the American Giant fact-brochure, the average American today, compared to 15 years ago, buys 60 percent more articles of clothing, but uses them 36 percent less — in between the dismal moment of purchase and the infuriated moments of throwing them away. This irked American keeps those clothes only 1/2 the amount of time that he did before the Great Recession. I think those numbers do not adequately express the amount of frustration and indignation of “the average American” who just wants to get dressed and go to work, or school, or play; but the seam popped open while pulling on the pair of plasticky pants/leggings, and the middle button came off of the blouse during the workday.
If any living American body has some muscle in the bicep, the sleeve will not fit! Why?
Because Step 1 of Greedy Corporation outsourcing its clothing manufacturing was to let the Foreign Factory sew the garment, using a Fit Model with a body type that approximated an American woman, man, or child. After a couple of years, the Fit Model got changed to the Asian model, to sell the wares domestically in the Country of Manufacture. The Greedy Corporation silently accepted that sneaky change; perhaps that alteration was even part of the Contract Negotiation.
This sleazy sleight-of-hand is how a field coat purchased from L.L. Bean in 2000 no longer compares “favorably” with the size, or excellence, or feel, or drape, of the “same” model of coat purchased in 2005. There are millions of such egregious examples rotting in the landfills of America at this very moment, and millions more are on their way there!
American Giant also states that in 1960, 95 percent of clothing was made in the U.S.A, compared to 3 percent today. That figure is horrific. And while it is true that modern Americans appear to want to buy more garments for many different occasions and various phases of life than did previous generations, it is also true that no matter what article of clothing is purchased, for whatever reason, the chintzy, rinky-dink thing stinks, sometimes literally!
That enormous and highly varied market demand is not only being ignored; it’s insulted hourly by Big Apparel who thinks it has the American clothes-buying public over their barrel.
Frankly, I’d rather go around wearing a barrel than subject my skin to any more of the coarse, cruddy, synthetic, almost sinful, duds that really are duds, advertised as “clothes” and sold en masse by the Globalist Pigs. A company that sells 1 million units of one shirt is basically telling the customer that he, or she, is part of the faceless, nameless blob of humanity that’s not worth a cent, a sou, a ha-penny, or even the lousy Euro.
My sewing machine and I have dreams to turn to reality with lovely fabrics from the long ago. I am also endeavouring to create a closet with investments Made in the U.S.A.
I’ve located a smattering of online American retailers that sell Made in The U.S.A clothes, but not enough of them are fashioned from American fabrics. I can wait for those sunnier days. For now, casual wear and work attire, made by Americans of all-American cotton, are available from American Giant. That small company offers a more fashionable look with “layering pieces”, a phrase that has been code for certain U.S. companies selling tops that are so sheer, you need to buy other tops to wear underneath them. In fact, there was an acronym used for that category: TWWOT — tops worn with other tops.
My recent buys from Stateline U.S.A. are phenomenal! This online site keeps selling out of most colors and sizes of truly good-old-fashioned sweats. I’ve learned that I can once again order a size Small without trepidation. I prudently purchased a Medium in sweatpants, and Dear Husband now enjoys their thick, soft, warm, comfy, plush cotton-ness.
Americans are slowly digging themselves out of holes into which they did not intend to ever descend. Patriotic people pulling together, regardless of nationality, that project is part of moving forward into the future that got robbed from the citizenry decades ago.
American Giant is an idea waiting to become a reality. I say, Dream giant!