California Revises ‘Made In America’ Manufacturing Rules

Calleen Cordero factory
Shoes being crafted at Calleen Cordero's footwear factory in West Hollywood, Calif.
Courtesy of brand.

On Wednesday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law legislation that relaxes California’s “Made in America” regulations to aid manufacturers of footwear and other products.

Previously, California law had stipulated that it was illegal to sell merchandise advertised as being made in the U.S. if any portion of the product was produced outside the States. Upon the passage of California Senate Bill 633 and Brown’s signature, the state now conforms with the federal standard used by the other 49 states, which states that merchandise can carry the label if the non-U.S. components make up no more than 10 percent of the final product.

The bill was authored by state Senator Jerry Hill and Assemblyman Brian Jones. In a statement, Jones said, “The legislature — after five years of working on this issue — has finally undone an overly burdensome regulation that has hurt California manufacturers since the 1960s.”

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The new legislation takes effect Jan. 1, 2016, and should be a boon for California’s growing footwear-manufacturing industry. Southern California, in particular, has become a hotbed of artisan activity — among the companies producing shoes there are Calleen Cordero, George Esquivel, Newbark, Anine Bing, Rainbow Sandals and Sbicca.

Palos Verdes Footwear factory; Sbicca Inside the Palos Verdes Footwear factory in South El Monte, Calif., which produces the Sbicca line. Courtesy of brand.

Cordero told Footwear News earlier this year as part of a special “Made in America” issue, “There are so many advantages [to producing in the U.S.] — and it’s especially a designer’s dream come true to be able to conceptualize a design and have it brought to life before your very own eyes.”

However, while domestic manufacturing has seen a resurgence in the U.S. lately, the supply chain hasn’t necessarily followed suit. Many of the materials and components used by footwear companies still come from overseas, making it difficult for shoemakers to meet California’s previous 100 percent requirement.

In that same special issue of FN, Nate Herman, VP of international trade for the American Apparel & Footwear Association, pointed out that while sourcing remains an issue for companies, change could be on its way. “The materials go where the manufacturing is,” he said. “As manufacturing starts to come back in a bigger way, you’ll see the supply chain follow.”

Now, with this revision to California’s rules, local shoemakers can finally market their goods on an equal footing with manufacturers throughout the country.