"Made in the USA"
That's a term we don't hear too often anymore. We use to have a pride in producing products domestically. Now, companies take shortcuts to save money. They will spend less to have a product made by workers who earn less than they should so that the public will be more inclined to buy it. Don't get me wrong, I love a low price tag. However, in today's commercial environment, a low price tag will, more often than not, mean a lower quality product. Once again, not all cheap stuff is crap, but there is a risk associated with a lower price point. You will wonder in your head, "why is it so cheap? There must be something wrong with it." That little voice isn't there for no reason.
As stated above, a big reason why more companies are moving production overseas is because of the working wage in other countries and how it translates into less money spent to produce an item. But by doing this, these companies are taking jobs away from our fellow Americans. Jobs are being taken from Americans who need money to support future generations of our great nation. But the large companies would rather save money and cut corners than support the domestic consumers that buy their products. This is a very sad cycle.
However, there are companies breaking the norm! I list a few of them in the brands/sponsors page and those are all companies whose gear I've used and trust. One example that really stands out is Beyond Clothing. Here you have a business that started out small and offered custom made outerwear based on measuring individual customers. About 3 years ago, Beyond was bought by 5.11 Tactical. If you aren't familiar, 5.11 is a very large brand that has a huge customer base, including military and law enforcement. What I was so pleased to find was that even though they were bought out, Beyond vowed to continue producing in the states. They are now doing better than ever despite their dedication to fair employee pay and fair prices.
Beyond spends a good amount of money on research and development when it comes to creating new gear. They use only the best materials, some of it cutting edge and not used anywhere else. They employ American workers and seamstresses and pay them a very fair wage and include benefits. Despite growing up in the birthplace of REI and seeing all sorts of outdoor clothing, I have determined that Beyond produces some of the best gear I have ever put my hands on. A large part of that I believe is due to the fact that an extreme amount of care and attention to detail is put into each and every garment. That is the difference between employing Americans who enjoy and take pride in their job as opposed to cutting corners with sweatshops full of disgruntled workers. On top of the top notch quality, I am drawn to this business because I desire to support my fellow citizens. Because of all the cost involved with developing and paying the folks that work there, Beyond Clothing has a higher price point than other brands who produce offshore, which brings me to my last point.
Price. You may see the price of a US made piece of gear and instantly turn away. That is a normal reaction because it is often more pricey than we expected. However, this is exactly what overseas production has done to us. It has spoiled us in terms of prices. When you consider all that went into making the garment domestically and how many American families are supported by the company that made the item, that extra $50, $75, $100 makes a little more sense. Often you will see business make a lower margin of profit in order to bring you the best price they can while staying afloat. We have heard the term "buy once, cry once" and that is often true with high quality US made gear, especially with domestic brands like Beyond.
So what to make of all this? We live in an economic climate where it is more desirable to produce overseas to save cost, often at the expense of quality and support for the country in which the folks who buy the gear live. Don't get me wrong, there are a few companies who have strict quality assurance protocols which ensure a solid piece of gear. In this instance, the quality is then overshadowed by the fact that no American jobs were created in producing the product. As far as prices for US made gear go, it bothers me when folks complain about how expensive it is. I try to explain to them that that price is often the lowest the company could go in order to turn a profit. It is a lot more expensive to produce in America and so that translates to added cost at the checkout counter. So what you take from this is up to you but I hope that it has been informational to some extent.
It is my personal preference to buy American whenever possible and I hope that it is something you would consider as well. It is our duty as Americans to support each other.
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