American Beauté: The Rise Of "Made In America"
Although fashion and politics sometimes seem like vastly different spheres, they often go hand in hand — after all, fashion is nothing if not a sign of the times. From Jackie Kennedy's glamorous, fashion-forward Chanel suits to Michelle Obama's active endorsement of multicultural designers and American-made couture, one of the most historically influential fashion houses in our country is the White House — and Trump’s White House is no exception. Ubiquitous throughout the campaign, the reality star's red "Make America Great Again" hats ushered in a wave of sentiment that privileges products "Made in America" — despite the ironic fact that Trump's hats are made in China, Vietnam, and Bangladesh.
Theoretically, though, "Made in America" is a positive attribute: buying more American-made products increases the demand for them, which in turn sustains and creates jobs for American workers. It's also an investment in fair labor standards and living wages for workers, something that brands can't as easily control when production is outsourced to overseas manufacturers. However, thanks to Trump's fire and brimstone, “Buy American, Hire American” rhetoric, even the word “America” has become loaded: as Jonathan Wilde pointed out in the Chicago Tribune, for many consumers, “Made In America” carries the now-unfortunate connotation of “Make Made In America Great Again.”
However, “Made In America” is more than a partisan trend leftover from the last election: when Barack Obama took office in 2008, there was a surge of interest in American-made goods thanks to style icon Michelle. Now, as consumers become more socially and politically conscious, they’re stepping away from international fast fashion and looking to higher quality, ethically sourced, and locally manufactured pieces — in other words, they're buying stateside. For example, in the cosmetics world, a growing interest in vegan and cruelty-free makeup has led to the emergence of high quality domestic brands, such as the NYC-based Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics and social media heavyweight Glossier.
While shifting production to American factories isn't feasible for many existing multinational brands, scores of smaller labels are rising to the challenge. From eco-friendly, sustainable Reformation, to Detroit-based Shinola — which made a point to bring high quality, crafts-level manufacturing back to the US — to up-and-coming minimalist label Foxblood (lovingly crafted in Los Angeles), more and more small brands are carrying out all aspects of their production at home, taking pride in their "Made in America" labels.
For luxury handbag designer Clare V., "Made In America" was a badge of honor long before Trump co-opted the phrase for political expedience: her products have exclusively been made in Los Angeles since the brand's inception in 2008. This season, Verge Creative Group proudly teamed up with Sephora to create an exclusive, limited edition bag collection for Clare V. The ultimate in Parisian chic meets California cool, the clutch and pencil case duo is perfect for storing summer essentials. And the best part? They’re American-made, from design to distribution.
Times change, and presidents come and go, but American-made goods are timeless and patriotic in all the right ways. In the words of the Agnes clutch from our Clare V. x Sephora collaboration, “la beauté est dans la rue” — beauty (like the resistance) is in the streets.