Going American-Made with American Giant

What drives you when you’re looking for clothes? Sure, you are probably considering how it looks, and then many of us (myself included) are very conscious of price. In some ways, we’ve become solely driven by price and price alone. I’ll admit, that’s a trap I get caught in, but it’s one that I’m trying to climb out of. The concept of “fast fashion” and the cheap prices driven my low labor costs in plants overseas – that’s just not a good thing. Once you realize what our pursuit of inexpensive clothes is doing to other people, you want look at other options. That’s where companies like American Giant come in.

Now, let’s set one thing straight – this article is not some “rah rah” Buy American patriotism post. Sure, it’s great to support your local industry, but if that’s your only reason, that may not really be the best choice. When you can get clothing that’s well-made (and not made to wear out after a few months), and is made from locally-sourced materials, well, now you have my interest. I mean, there’s a reason I like welted shoes and boots (long term usability with proper care), so it makes sense that adopting this approach for clothes is a logical step.

Now, I’ve had some American-made, locally-sourced stuff before (primarily from Gustin) but I had slipped away from that. My wife and I had been talking more and more about this recently, and it stuck in my head. So, like we do in this day in age, I went to Instagram and asked who I knew that American Giant products – I wanted to see if their claims held up in the real world. A few folks responded, and it seemed like they were holding them in the same regard as they did Gustin (and I’ve had a great experience with that brand) so my interest was piqued.

Well, American Giant also caught wind of my questioning and – in the interest of full disclosure – they offered to send along a few T’s to try out so I could experience the brand for myself. Obviously, I said yes, and here we are with this combination review / editorial. Now, as far as it being a t-shirt goes, it’s just like you’d expect for 100% cotton – it washes and dries normally, and fits, well, like a t-shirt.

Where things start to deviate for the American Giant Classic T is in the feel. There’s the easy-to-pinpoint part of it, in that this is some of the softest cotton that I’ve felt in a shirt. And, since I normally wear them as a layer under a button-up shirt, softness is appreciated. Secondly – but harder to quantify – is the fact that the T’s feel tough. By this, I mean the cotton is not something flimsy that is stretching out or showing thin spots. This isn’t something I could photograph, really, but the sense of durability is there. Which, combined with how soft the cotton was, made for a great combination.

Now, at $28 for a single t-shirt, this is going to be a bit more expensive than what you’d pick up from your local department or big-box store. But when that price brings this sort of quality, I’m amenable. Then, when you mix in the fact that the people making the shirts (and those involved in the supply chain that help to create this shirt) are being paid properly, and that the company is focused on making better (in several ways) clothing – and not just a quick buck – I’m definitely on-board (you can read more about the American Giant values here).

Now, I realize that this might come across in some ways as an American Giant advertisement, but that was definitely not my intent (and other than providing the shirts, they did not pay for this article). While American Giant was the subject here, it’s really an example of what I’m going to be looking for in clothing. I’m not saying I’m going to just blanket replace everything, but when it comes time to get, say, a new pair of jeans, I’ll be looking closely at where the garment was made.

We need to realize that our obsession with low prices over anything else means that we’re driving people to be dramatically underpaid and mistreated, while ultimately ending up with lower-quality garments in our closets and dressers. For me, I’ve started to make the shift (see above with my remarks on welted shoes, and my Instagram for my love of Darn Tough socks), and will be looking to make better choices in what I buy. If we vote with our wallets, we can certainly help affect changes. Sure, not quite in the same way as starting up a company like American Giant, but we can and should look for brands that have values that align with your own.

Yes, buying ethically-made clothing (whether it’s American-made like American Giant or some other brand) is going to be a more expensive proposition – there is no denying that. Does it mean we might have fewer shirts, and what we have needs to last longer before we replace it? Well, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I don’t know about you, but I think this year is the year for me, at least, to make better and wiser choices about the clothes that I add to my own wardrobe. If you’re rowing that same boat, be sure to comment below, reach out via Twitter, or drop us a note and let us know what your favorite ethically-sourced brands are. In my own list, A-G is definitely in the top five. american-giant.com

Patrick Kansa

A big data developer and leader with a penchant for gadgets, books, watches and beverages. You can find my work on WristWatchReview, Knapsack.News, and Slushpile. If you're on Twitter and/or Instagram, you'll find me there as @PatrickWatches.

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