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What It Really Means To Be “Made In America”

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Photos courtesy of Loup, BackBeat Rags, Whimsy + Row

American-made brands explain the difference

As the many flaws of the fashion industry are increasingly coming to light, from unethical working conditions to overwhelming amounts of pollution, more consumers are beginning to shop more consciously and spend time looking into the practices of the brands from which they're buying. Because of this, smaller, direct-to-consumer brands are popping up left and right, and are gaining ground on the coveted territory once occupied by fast fashion retailers. And, not coincidentally, a lot of these brands are designed and manufactured, from start to finish, right here in the U.S.

There are many positive things about American fashion brands producing domestically—even in the same city in which they're located. But some of those things might not be understood by consumers who look only for bargains, instead of focusing on quality. So we chatted with brands that are 100 percent produced and manufactured here to find out why they choose to stay American-made, what it really means to be "Made in America," and why consumers should care about buying locally.

One of the biggest advantages of domestic production is the ability to be able to oversee quality control, whether you're popping into the factory each day, or able to easily communicate with one another on a daily basis. "There are so many truly amazing factories in our country that are capable of producing beautiful, well-made products," says Ariane Gold, founder of accessories label goldno.8. "As an emerging brand, there are so many advantages to producing in our own backyard. First and foremost, the close proximity to the factory is ideal—within a couple of hours, I can be on the factory floor working with the owner on any number of tasks. The bottom line is, there is more control and oversight to the product, which helps to make the process of design-to-production seamless."

This can also majorly contribute to sustainability efforts. While not every American-made brand is necessarily sustainable and eco-friendly, it's much easier to operate in this way when you can oversee what's going on and how your factory operates. For Rachel Temko, founder of L.A.-based and -made ethical label Whimsy + Row, having the brand and its production take place in the same city makes a huge difference. "It's easier for us to control our production and keep everything up to our sustainable and ethical standards. Also, making our clothing locally reduces our eco-footprint, as we're able to pick up everything only miles away with our recycled hangers and boxes and deliver it straight to our headquarters."

Being able to easily access where your clothing is produced also allows you to have an actual relationship with factories and get face-to-face time with the workers producing your products—which, in part, builds a level of trust and respect between you and such an integral part of your brand. "I wanted to produce in the U.S. because I wanted to have a relationship with the factories that I work with," says Isadora Alvarez, founder of BackBeatRags. "I like that I can visit them, chat with them, and be able to know about their lives. I wanted them to also feel like they're a part of my business."

A lot of times, American-made brands really work to support the other businesses and factories with whom they collaborate. "Our relationships with our factories here are incredibly important to us, and we've built a big network of talented people that know our product really well, and they help us improve it constantly," says Danielle Ribner, founder of sustainable NYC-based label Loup. "At this point, if we moved our production abroad, it would not only affect our quality, but it would also affect the dozens of small businesses that we work with and that have grown with us."

When a brand produces within the U.S. and gets to oversee the process, this also allows it—and its customers—to know exactly what your product is worth and how it should be priced. Scott Shapiro, founder of the first American-made luxury eyewear brand State Optical Co., explains, "The biggest problem with sourcing overseas is that it creates a great deal of ambiguity regarding what a product is worth. For decades, almost all eyewear has been produced in these far-off places that were rarely talked about. Even most opticians who work their whole careers with eyeglasses have never seen a pair being produced. We want to bridge that gap and show people exactly why eyeglasses cost what they do and show them exactly what they're paying for."

As with everything, there are downsides and challenges to having all production and manufacturing of a fashion label stay within the U.S. For one, it's a known fact that it's a lot more expensive to produce in America than it is outside of the U.S., which is why so many brands choose to outsource to companies that mass-produce, like China and South America, which leads to poor working conditions (with fast-fashion retailers being some of the biggest culprits).

However, while many brands shy away from U.S.-based production because of higher costs, the reality is that it doesn't mean a brand can't survive. "Price is a big issue when it comes to producing in America, which is not always bad, but it does mean we have to work extra hard to give value to something people can possibly get cheaper somewhere else," says Ribner. "We try to listen to our customers to give them what they want, and provide a place they can come back to and feel taken care of."

One reason for this is actually due to the fact that U.S. sewers and manufacturers aren't necessarily as trained or skilled as those based in other countries where mass production takes place. "The skills of the sewers here in the U.S. are not as advanced as the sewers who work in countries that are manufacturing hubs," says Alvarez. "They don't have the training or the technology that Vietnam and China has, or if they do, they are very expensive." This can lead to higher costs or having to work with simpler pieces. For Temko and her brand, she chose to hire a production manager to help her find people at the skill level she needed—which came at an additional cost.

Despite the cost of labor being higher in the U.S., some brand owners feel that infrastructure is a much greater challenge to get past. "Obviously the cost of labor is much higher here than in places like China, but that cost can be mostly offset by the efficiencies related to manufacturing domestically," says Shapiro. "What really makes it challenging is the lack of infrastructure. The machines we use are not made or even serviced here in the U.S. The raw materials are not available here. Most importantly, there's no trained workforce to do what we do. Every single craftsman in our factory has to be trained from step one. Most products cannot be produced in a vacuum—there needs to be a community or infrastructure of support. By producing in the U.S., we're basically giving that up." But, if more brands were to move production to the U.S., this would directly combat the lack of infrastructure.

While there are a number of pros and cons to choosing domestic production, American-made brands have a strong sense of pride for doing so. "It means that in order to create a superior product, we're willing to do it the hard way and completely buck convention to prove that American craftsmen can make a luxury product as well as anyone else in the world," says Shapiro.

Not only do they have pride for American craftsmanship, but also for the network of manufacturers and companies—most importantly, the other people—that they work with closely to create their products. "Once we decided to stay American-made, it truly dictated the trajectory for the company," says Alvarez. "We're dedicated to being mindful, concise, and grow slowly so that we not only keep Loup alive but the other companies and factories that we've worked with for years. We're a small company, but in reality, we have a huge network of talented manufactures that depend on us, and us on them."

When it comes to the fashion brands we're shopping, we should be supporting those that work hard to keep production within the country. Not only would that mean we're supporting small—and typically sustainable—fashion labels, we're also supporting the small, family-run factories they work with. This demand could also potentially allow for more accessible training programs so that U.S. sewers are just as skilled as those based in China and India, and also help to support the end of sweatshop conditions in other countries.

But, most of all, we're supporting the brands that are truly involved and invested with the products they make and the entirety of the process that goes into creating them, from conception to final product.

Photo by Handout / Getty Images.

From selling probiotic supplements to picture frames and umbrellas

A Kardashian-level of success doesn't happen overnight, and it certainly doesn't happen without proper planning. Kim Kardashian West clearly knows this because, according to TMZ, she has already filed for trademark protection on the name of her two-week-old baby, Psalm West. From personal appearances and entertainment services to probiotic supplements and scrunchies, she is leaving no stone unturned in terms of possible business opportunities.

Apparently, all of the Kardashian parents file these kinds of trademark protections for their kids even if the businesses never come to fruition. It's done as a precautionary measure to keep others from profiting off of their name and to make sure that, should they ever want to start a business, they don't have to worry about someone else getting to it first. The sheer length of this list speaks to the huge earning potential of baby Psalm, who can't even control his own neck muscles yet, let alone go into business. Still, this brings a whole new meaning to "securing the bag."

Below, a list of all the things Kardashian West is seeking usage rights for.

Hair accessories

Barrettes

Bands

Bows

Clips

Ties

Ornaments

Pins

Scrunchies

Chopsticks

Twisters

Wrap

Hair extensions

Ornamental novelty pins

Entertainment services

Personal appearances

Skin care

Probiotic supplements

Toy figures

Doll accessories

Computer software

Clothing

Baby bottles

Furniture

Strollers

Beverageware

Swaddling

Blankets

Skin moisturizers

Lotions

Creams

Bubble bath

Fragrances

Body powders

Shower gels

Body oils

Skin serums

Nail polish

Nail polish remover

Nail care preparations

Puppets

Puzzles

Toy jewelry

Toy cameras

Toy food

Bath toys

Baby gyms

Playground balls

Electronic action toys

Baby bouncers

Baby changing tables

Baby walkers

Pillows

Mirrors

Cushions

Picture frames

Playpens

Baby carriers

Cosmetic bags

Toiletry cases

Duffle bags

Umbrellas

Clocks

Watches

Key chains

Calendars

Books

photo albums

Stationery

Stickers

Writing utensils

Collectible trading cards

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FROM THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Well, actually it's crocodile, but she looks out of this world so...

Winnie Harlow walked the Cannes red carpet on Wednesday on her way to a screening of Oh Mercy!, wearing a showstopping gown.

The sheer black dress featured green embroidery on the front and back, which Ralph and Russo confirmed was in the shape of a crocodile. She belted the dress with a black crocodile skin-like belt and finished the look off with some strappy heels. She didn't leave it at just that. For beauty, Harlow packed on full lids of sparkly purple eyeshadow. She kept her hair sleek and simple.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Though the brand says otherwise, as Game of Thrones fans, we'd like to think the embroidery is reminiscent of a dragon's skin. Not to mention, Harlow looks out-of-this-world beautiful in it.

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Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

That denim kimono!!

Marion Cotillard shut down the Cannes red carpet on Wednesday at a screening for Matthias Et Maxime. Instead of an extravagant gown that's expected of the event, Cotillard wore a matching black crop top and shorts. Despite wearing an outfit I typically don to a hot yoga class, she looks incredible. She completed the look with an oversized denim kimono, a statement necklace, and heeled booties.

Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

At first, I was drawn in by the crop top and hotpants duo, but, after looking closer at the kimono, it's clear that it's the real scene-stealer. The floor-length Balmain piece was decorated with artful rips and dragon motifs. I would like to live in it.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Let's all bow down to the Khaleesi of Cannes.

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MORE in VIDEO
Photo by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images.

"It doesn't make you weak to ask for help"

Singer Billie Eilish is continuing to open up about mental health, this time in a new PSA video in partnership with the Ad Council and Seize the Awkward.

In the video, Eilish insists that "it doesn't make you weak to ask for help." She doubles down on the importance of asking for help, and stresses the importance of friends and family being there when their close ones reach out and checking in on them as well. "You should be able to ask anyone for help, everyone has to help someone if they need it." According to Eilish, there have been times when someone reached out to her at the exact moment she needed it, and it helped.

It was particularly refreshing to see Eilish acknowledge that there are things she still doesn't know and has to learn about her mental health. At the very beginning of the video, the interviewer asks her to reflect on her mental health journey, and all Eilish can do is let out chortle. "I think when people hear, 'Remember to take care of your mental health,' they think that everyone else is, and that is not at all accurate," she admitted. "You know, for me I'm trying to learn still to make sure that I stay okay."

Check out the PSA below.

Billie Eilish On Mental Health & Friendship | Ad Council www.youtube.com

Photograph via @kimkardashian.

"#NotOnMyMoodBoard"

Kim Kardashian has definitely been accused of borrowing a design now and then. But when Instagram influencer and Kardashian look-alike Kamilla Osman claimed the entrepreneur copied her birthday look for a Met Gala after-party, Kardashian was not going to let it fly—and shared plenty of photo evidence to shut down the claim.

Fashion industry watchdog Diet Prada first noticed Osman's claims on Instagram and shared side-by-side images of Kardashian's Cher-inspired outfit designed by Mugler and Osman's dress. "Never get confused with who 'inspires' who. They won't give you credit but they will copy," Osman wrote on her IG story. "I designed this dress for my birthday last year. Nobody had a dress like this was an original design."

Kardashian responded by posting the true inspiration behind her look: images of Cher, in similarly sparkly, plunging-neckline dresses and wigs, and of model Yasmeen Ghauri walking a Mugler show in the '90s. In fact, the only similarity between Osman's and Kardashian's looks is the bodycon mini-dress style, which the two are not the first to wear. Among the images, Kardashian included a blank slide with the hashtag "NotOnMyMoodBoard," making it clear that this was in response to Osman's claims.

Screenshot via @KimKardashian Instagram Stories

Screenshot via @KimKardashian Instagram Stories

Though I am with Kim on this one, Kardashian does have a history of co-opting other people's work. From being sued over her Kimoji app, to claims she copied makeup palettes and perfume bottle designs, to being accused of copying Naomi Campbell's entire style, it's far from the first (and probably, far from the last) time Kardashian's name will be mentioned like this.

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