How important is the “Made in America” label to shoppers?
We asked five retailers in the shoe industry how they see consumers responding to U.S.-made goods.
Jerry Kamhi, CEO of Haberdash, Chicago
“‘Made in America’ became important in the Haberdash market three to five years ago, when the authentic and heritage aesthetic captured our clients’ imagination. Since that trend has softened, it has become less of a factor. What hasn’t changed is the desire to purchase quality and style but at a value price.”
George Vlagos, founder & design director, Oak Street Booktmakers/Independence store, Chicago
“The ‘Made in America’ label has grown increasingly important to the consumer — specifically men. Whether it be the story behind their Oak Street Bootmakers boots or the design purpose for each of the pockets on their Engineered Garments work shirt, men really enjoy learning about and researching the goods they’re interested in. Adding a ‘Made in USA’ label to a brand really gives consumers a sense of pride.”
Chad Beightol, founder The Lodge, New York
“After decades of decline, consumers are showing an appreciation for American craftsmanship — wanting to know more about how their clothing and shoes are made. Our customers like knowing who the designers and artisans are behind the brands we sell. We think ‘Made in the US’A will continue to strengthen as products made here improve in selection beyond the traditional heritage brands that spurred the recent Maker Movement.”
Tarek Hassan, co-owner of The Tannery, Boston
“Whether it be New Balance, Red Wing or Benson, whenever we do a ‘Made in the USA’ [collaboration], people line up around the block — and we almost always see a 100 percent sell-through. These collaborations generate the most enthusiastic response among consumers. There’s such energy around ‘Made in the USA.'”
Sam Larson, co-founder & creative director, Long Flag, Del Mar, Calif.
“I think it’s more important to an older demographic compared to a younger one. We love ‘Made in America,’ but we also are more about products that are made well. Between the U.S., Canada and Japan, they seem to make the most well-made product. When I can tell a consumer the origin of a product and where it was sourced and more about it — whether it be here or a small factory in Japan — they’re more into it. They may not be as motivated by “Made in the USA’ alone — it’s a factor, but not the only selling point for us.”