How Patriotism and Pragmatism Drive Domestic Apparel Production
Beyond politics, Made in USA is—and has been—a reality for many brands. Though the U.S. remains uncertain with regard to future trade policies, domestic companies are here to stay for a myriad of reasons, including patriotism, proximity and pride. Below Noorism, Corridor, Shabbella and Plata O Plomo explain the benefits and challenges of producing their lines here and the ways in which President Trump’s policies are affecting their businesses.
Premium streetwear brand Plata O Plomo was founded in 2016 by Jay D’Adamo, Gary Trejo and D.H. Straiton. Plata O Plomo manufactures organic cotton T-shirts and hoodies in the U.S., and at its LA-based factories, the company pays fair wages and supports workers’ career endeavors. With its motto “Choose Your Path,” Plata O Plomo aims to create sustainnable and stylish streetwear, while empowering the individuals that make their domestic production possible.
SJ: Why did you decide to pursue a domestic supply chain?
DS: Our intent from the concept stage was to make our goods in LA, first for a higher quality garment but also the ability to have a tighter control on production. Because our goods are made in LA, it’s easy for us to go to our suppliers and see our stuff being made, [which is] important and cost-effective as a new brand.
SJ: Why is this a good time for American-made fashion?
DS: It feels like now, more than ever, American manufacturers and suppliers are hungry, and in our case, willing to play ball with us, do small runs and be competitive with overseas sources. All of our suppliers have been enthusiastic believers in new brands like ours. They know if we grow, so will they.
SJ: What are the pros/cons of making your collection here?
DS: We love the fast turn around time of making Plata O Plomo here. There is so little down side to an all U.S. production model, certainly for our soft goods, jewelry and accessories. And, our consumers like that we are an LA brand, an American brand. Incidentally, it also plays well overseas. The challenge is sometimes you just can’t find a U.S.-made product that is as good or right as an overseas source. For us, it was hats. No one makes a Yupoong- style, high-quality ball cap in the USA. Believe us; we spent a year looking. Maybe someone who reads this will come forward if they’re out there. Hey, we’re open.
SJ: In terms of competition, have you seen more entrants in the Made in the USA space?
DS: In the apparel space, there are certainly more great new brands that are wholly made in the USA like Shinola to others that have shifted large segments of their overseas production to a domestic model like menswear designer Carlos Campos. It’s good business. We do feel the more domestic production, the better for ALL of us, especially for a consumer who is disheartened by the ubiquity of fast fashion or the quality of mainline brands that gave up on domestic production (and, in a way, quality) decades ago.
SJ: Do you see U.S. protectionist trade polices as a potential boon for U.S. production?
DS: We love Made in the USA but, historically, protectionism has never been helpful to the business environment. We are a local brand with a global focus. For us, it’s a thrill to see and get to know the dozens of dedicated and talented workers who touch our goods from concept to sourcing to the cut and sew rooms to our fulfillment and warehouse team. We’re lucky to have them by our side.
SJ: What other initiatives do you have in the works?
DS: Plata O Plomo is growing rapidly. In a little over a year, we’ve introduced more product and have more in development. We will continue to make sourcing and manufacturing in the U.S. a priority, but never at the cost of quality. Other than that, at the moment, we are looking to expand our design team, and we don’t mind, they can be from outside LA.