Of the things that I feel most powerless about, it's the thought that never, ever, in my life will I consider making my own bras. The technology just seems too unfathomable and I don't really know why. Anyway, so I buy bras as infrequently as humanly possible. I reported a couple of months ago about buying US-made clothing from All American Clothing Co. and how they are comparable to mail order standards like Lands End, and I said at that time my next purchase in this vein would be bras from Justice Clothing. However, they have been in a transition phase for a few months so I sent them an email asking what their retail status is. I'll update when I find out more.
Lately, I've been buying bras online from Maidenform and I was reading their history, I realize that Maidenform has been around for a long time and I guess they revolutionized the modern undergarment industry (although I don't know that for sure). But, the thing that sticks in my craw is that they don't make any of their bras or undergarments domestically, anymore. Here's an article by Will Stape that talks about Maidenform closing up it's Bayonne, NJ offices and moving to Woodbridge, NJ in 2007. It doesn't talk about when the factory production moved overseas, but it does have a little bit of history about the I dreamed... campaign (see the image for this post). As I write this I can see I'm going to have to do some more research that will take longer than I want to wait to post this - maybe an update at some point?
Anyway, before I get to my philosophical viewpoint on all of this mess, I want to say that I like Maidenform bras (in fact, just made another online purchase). I figured out with a measuring tape basically where I am size-wise (and I am ample, it must be stated) and got a couple of different styles and ended up only having to send one back out of the three initial purchases. They were prompt with the refund and it cost very little to return it by USPS. If it was possible to get them to make a line of bras just in the US I would be a happy, happy customer of Maidenform bras. Right now, I am a grudgingly-pleased shopper of Maidenform bras.
The bigger issue for me, however, is framing US-made clothing as being not only domestically profitable for workers by giving them good jobs in manufacturing, but by elevating the conversation to economics and transportation for the company's bottom line; is it more feasible to charge more for domestically made bras when the profits made can factor in less transportation costs, for instance, from third world countries or emerging first world economies (like China)? This is where environmentalists and consumers concerned about maintaining jobs in the US should focus in shifting the paradigm.
Got this weird-ass advertisement from the 50's from Found in Mom's Basement.