American Apparel? The same company whose founder had a nasty and boorish proclivity for sexual harassment? The same company whose look is culled from the dungheap of 70s and 80s fashion? The same company whose advertisements are de facto soft core pornography?
Yes, THAT American Apparel.
It’s an unlikely interloper on a blog that puts a premium on the classics. Aesthetically, it’s the antithesis of Ivy, the polar opposite of Prep, the un-Trad.
But, for those of us who worship at the altar of American made goods, it’s hard to ignore a company that has this to say about itself.
We employ more than 5,000 industrial workers in Southern California, all of whom are paid fair wages and have access to affordable healthcare and benefits.
Today, American Apparel is the largest sewing company in North America; it touts itself as sweatshop free, a concern for its employees that is sorely lacking in these days of rampant de-unionization. At a time when much of the U.S. garment industry has emigrated to countries where environmental and worker protections are scant, this means something.
When Frannie was home last month, we stopped in American Apparel’s Houston store. Amid all the porn-star-cum-hipster clothes, we found a pair of white canvas tennis shoes, wonderfully reminiscent of the classic made-in-the-USA Keds. Since her white tennis shoes were on their proverbial last legs, we picked her up a pair.
It’s been a great journey learning about the many companies that lovingly produce their wares on American shores. Over the past few months, we’ve encountered a number of individuals who are as passionate about American manufacturing as we are.
So it filled our hearts with joy when we learned about Manready Mercantile.
Manready Mercantile, only a going concern for a couple of years, has already emerged as a significant voice in the effort to inspire a renaissance in American manufacturing. It had its genesis a few years ago when its founder began making candles on his stove at home.
Manready Mercantile is both brand and store. It produces a wide range of men’s apothecary products, sold both online and in its storefront on 19th Street in the Houston Heights. But it also stocks goods from manufacturers across the United States.
A few weeks ago, I made the pilgrimage to the Houston shop. There, I found a mecca of American-made goodness.
While its dominant aesthetic is somewhat rustic, a number of items the store carries would fit very well into the classic wardrobe: Filson coats, chinos in a variety of colors, canvas and leather overnight bags.
There are moments in a lady’s life when she is called upon to don an evening gown, whether she is accepting an Academy Award, heading up a charity ball or simply enjoying the attentions of a young gentleman whisking her across the dance floor. Frannie has finally come to that moment.
So where to turn, particularly if a made in the USA gown is a priority? For denizens of Southeast Texas, David Peck USA affords the perfect opportunity to merge classic elegance with a commitment to local production.
Over the past four years, David Peck has been crafting exceptionally designed gowns, dresses and other ladies garments in Houston. With his recent relocation to Houston’s Montrose neighborhood, all of his wares are manufactured in a building right off the shop floor.
His collection is firmly rooted in the classics–not surprising for someone who cites both Hepburns as inspirations.
We had the chance to visit the shop on a pleasant pre-Thanksgiving afternoon. During our visit, Frannie sampled a bevy of gowns, each a paean to elegance. In the end, she selected a purple crepe jersey gown; after alterations, it will be ready for next year’s formal events.