March 14, 2015

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Made in America / Made in USA

Cheval Amour believes strongly in a local supply chain. When we launched Cheval Amour our plan was to have apparel carry the "Made in USA" label.  We spent a lot of time researching and meeting with different clothing manufacturers.  Our story was similar to Goldilocks and the Three Bears. . .one manufacturer was too big, one was too small, and many were not producing the quality of product desired . . .  It was during this intensive research that we found our current manufacturer who is located in Vancouver, British Columbia - more about why we choose to work with them in a moment.

What does the "Made in America" or "Made in USA" label mean when it comes to clothing?  We were surprised to learn that in order for an article of clothing to bear the label, it not only has to be sewn in the USA, but most of the fabric and other components (threads, buttons, zippers, etc.) must be made in the USA.   To be more specific "all or virtually all" of the components of a garment must be made in America, a definition that comes from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which regulates the labeling of products.  Small start-up companies are faced with significant challenges when they attempt to assemble high quality yet economical material to into elegant performance apparel.  To add to this challenge, apparel manufacturing companies have moved overseas for economic reasons - causing more than 600 textile mills to close nationally since 1997!

Although we initially desired a "Made in USA" label on Cheval Amour clothing, we decided to enter into a relationship with a manufacturer in Vancouver, BC for a number of reasons which include the following:

-  The apparel produced by this manufacturer is extremely high-quality.

-  The clothes are sewn by employees who are protected by Canadian Labor Standards at a facility located less than 450 miles from our Cheval Amour headquarters.  (Closer than many of the manufacturers we were considering in southern California).

-  Our manufacturer is a certified bluesign® System partner.

-  Our manufacturer is dedicated to addressing climate change.  This can be seen throughout their entire operation which include the fabrics they use, having their factory and showroom's greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint measured (implementing changes to reduce their carbon footprint), and initiating a clothing recycling program.  

    The Made in America / Made in USA label is something to strive for - this goal should become more realistic as our nation becomes more aware of the impact our textile industry has on our planet.  Until both qualified and quality resources are available here in America, we will proudly use the "Made in Vancouver, BC" label on our Cheval Amour apparel. 

    Resources:

    bluesign® Standard:  www.bluesign.com

    FTC "Made in USA" Standard:  http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/usajump.shtm

    What Does "Made in USA" Really Mean?  Defining Made in America, June 7, 2012:  http://madeinusachallenge.com/2012/defining-made-in-america/

    Los Angeles Times, Made in USA label advantages wear thin -Bangladesh tragedy reinforces LA firms' stay-local stance, but challenges remain., June 12, 2013:  http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jun/12/business/la-fi-la-manufacturing-bangladesh-20130612


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