Did you know there’s a story behind your clothing?

Most people probably assume there is, yet don’t take the time to research the origin of their outfit. However as the founder of a boutique shirting company, I can tell you this is a worthwhile exercise. After creating Concord Button Downs in 2012, a brand committed to providing American-made products, I came to realize the importance of buying domestic goods. Through partnering with one of the nation’s last remaining shirt makers, I have witnessed the benefits that result from supporting American craftsmen and women. Below I share my story of my experience working with a domestic supplier, and why I now believe in buy locally made products.

After stepping away from a desk job in 2012, I took a plunge into the world of entrepreneurialism. Together with a close friend, we set forth to build a brand based around the timeless features of the Northeast. Our goal was to offer New England styled shirts that were actually made in New England. It was our hope to encourage those affixed with New England style to buy domestic goods. When first looking into this possibility, a West Coast business contact put us in touch with a company located in Fall River, Massachusetts. Little did we know that only sixty miles away lay what would later become our primary distributor. Having now worked together for roughly a year, we have identified three main questions that highlight the benefits of buying American.

Please note that the story below is merely one account of a partnership with a local supplier. It is by no means a sales pitch, or tactic; rather a genuine interpretation of the underlining experience working with a producer of domestic goods. A plausible exchange could be made for any other company whose product (i.e. trousers, boots, dresses) is also made in the United States.

Where are our shirts made?

Situated on the Quequechan River in Fall River, Massachusetts resides one of the nation’s oldest textile centers. From the outside this outfit stands tall and strong, intimidating because of its oversized stature and bleak appearance. Complete with peeling paint and rusted metal bannisters, the exterior entrance is anything but inviting. On a frigid January day in 2012, after an hour-long drive down I-95, we finally reached our destination. At first glance the building looked to be abandoned, empty and rundown. Perplexed by our current location, I considered re-typing the given address into my GPS. However, despite this initial hesitancy, we committed to pursuing forward.

As we entered the building and walked up three flights of rickety stairs, the undeniable sound of sewing machines reconfirmed our initial disposition. Excited by what lay ahead, we quickly entered the shop. Well weathered hardwood floors and high ceilings set the foundation for this facility. With an abundance of natural light shining through the dusty window frames, one could clearly see the warehouse’s aged elegance. Each detail from the cracked door handles, to the rope banisters, promoted a subtle ruggedness that was exemplified by the company’s hardworking laborers. In an attempted to navigate through the long lines of sewing stations, fabric posts, and business offices, we were overwhelmed with a contradicting feeling of controlled pandemonium. Fabric lay everywhere as individuals hastily moved throughout the building; this was an environment focused on production.

After leaving later that day, what struck us most about this outfit was its authenticity. The shop’s setting and historical features certainly embodied the American spirit. Consistent throughout the building’s many features lay small details that underscored a rustic New England attraction. In many ways we felt as if we had just stepped back in time, to a place where the pride in a craftsman’s work was identified by the calluses on their hands.

How are our shirts made?

One of the largest benefits of buying a good produced in the United States is the product’s value. Unlike many international organizations that focus their efforts on quantity, most domestic suppliers concentrate on a product’s quality. While a quality product can be produced in many ways, the most common method is through time spent focusing on details. As a result of motivation paired with intentionality, the sum of multiple nuances collectively contribute to the greater whole.

Similar to an artist taking pride in their artwork, most craftsmen take pride in their craft. When pushed on this issue, shop owner Bob Kidder commented, “step inside and you will find an honest, hard-working factory, and a group of skilled, dedicated craftspeople using vintage sewing machines to create honest, timeless clothing.” In witnessing the character of those who run this facility, and observing the intense devotion to their work, the result is a high valued product. Because of the initial effort put forth, when you purchase a good made in America you buy a product created by people who value quality and who take immense satisfaction in their craft.

Why are the shirts made?

For many years textiles were a backbone to the American economy. Yet with the rise of international factories, warehouses, and sweatshops, the production of most garments has left the United States. For a fraction of the price many brands now abandon domestic partnerships and create new alliances internationally. As a result, this poses the question, why are some shirts still produced here?

To answer this question, there is still a strong belief in the quality that comes only from American factories. A vision still exists for promoting the local craftsman and woman, while also diminishing the abundance of sweatshop labor. At a basic level, American made products are products create working opportunities for artists to display their craft and highlight their skill. American-made products are produced to reinforce the virtues of hard work and discipline. This is the reason we selectively decided to partner with a domestic supplier, and the reason many other brands today have additionally confirmed close alliances.

So where else can I shop ‘Made in America’ shirts? What other brands support domestic suppliers? Well, without giving you an exhaustive list, here’s a small offering:

In 2012 we set forth with a goal of providing New England styled shirts made in New England. And by identifying three questions: where are our shirts going to be made, how are our shirts going to be made, and why are our shirts going to be made, together they created a narrative for our product.

Contact Daniel and see the shirts his company makes at http://www.concordbuttondowns.com

Concord Button Downs are made in Massachusetts.
Concord Button Downs are made in Massachusetts.