This is a topic we feel passionately about, and could spend all day talking about. For your sake, we've given you the choice between reading a summary, or reading an essay. Choose your own adventure this time around.
"Made in Vemont" is the latest piece in the An& Brand puzzle. Don't get us wrong we've always been a house made brand, but after spending a winter in Utah during the 2011-2012 season, our eyes were opened to the value of the great state of Vermont. We've always been proud to be American Manufacturers, but after recent experiences, we've decided to narrow it down. No disrespect to Utah or any other state, but Vermont's where The An& Brand was born. And it makes sense, the state has a long history of self reliance and craftsmanship that perfectly compliments our philosophies at The An& Brand. Couple that with a thriving winter culture and some of the best mountains, rivers, and lakes in New England, and you have just about everything The An& Brand represents. Of course, there's a severe lack of Hip-Hop culture in these parts, but we're working on that!
Culturally, Vermont is a forward thinking state that is unwavering in it's public conscience. Specifically, we're referring to Vermonters attention to the environment and local economy. As the world's population continues to explode exponentially, Vermont has been one of the first communities to pick up on the need to maintain strong local ties. The An& Brand prides itself in being a responsible business that aims to limit the negative environmental impacts of it's operations. Additionally, through our in house manufacturing, we aim to become an employer who is able to provide a healthy way of life for all of our employees. Obviously the ideals of Vermont and The An& Brand are well aligned. With that in mind, we are proud to be house made in Vermont.
We've always strived to be a house made brand. That is, we have always wanted to control as much of the manufacturing process as possible. This probably seems like a pretty ridiculous concept in 2012, but it won't be for long. We're all coming to a point where having products anonymously made over seas is unacceptable. Beyond the fact that outsourcing reduces a brand to playing the part of the middle man, there's a number of more practical reasons to manufacture in house.
Let's start with the environmental impacts. Whether or not you agree that human activity is the cause of our current climate change, we're sure that no one can argue that pollution is beneficial. That said, we all have to play our part to reduce the effects of irresponsible business practices. Remember, spending your money is like casting votes. The more support your throw behind conscious brands, the less money irresponsible brands have to be, well, irresponsible with. So how does The An& Brand reduce it's environmental impact?
Well, the answer can be found by taking a look at our supply chain. By manufacturing in house, and purchasing supplies made in North America whenever possible, we are able to eliminate the need to import from over seas. One of the biggest polluters in the world, are the freight ships used for global shipping. By refusing to have our products manufactured over seas, we're able to drop this highly detrimental process. Ultimately, what this means is that in buying a product from The An& Brand, you are also reducing your impact on the environment.
But it doesn't stop there for us. In addition to not manufacturing over seas, we also try our best to source our materials as close to home as possible. For instance, in our Fall 2KXI collection, every Cut.&.Sew piece was made with organic cotton purchased in Montreal, Canada. Just 100 miles from Burlington, VT. The canvas used in our duffle bags, is an organic cotton fabric sourced from a supplier located in Missouri. Starting to see how this all comes together? Manufacturing is a tricky world to navigate, but if you're careful, you can do it responsibly and minimize the environmental impact.
The second half of the story is the economy. One of the most frustrating arguments we hear at The An& Brand, is that outsourcing manufacturing jobs is fine because those jobs are less desirable, and our economy is too strong to be held back with such miserable jobs. The argument essentially says that clothing manufacturing jobs are found in developing countries, whereas highly skilled jobs are more appropriate for fully developed economies. To that point, all we can ask is, "Are you serious?"
Sure, conditions in many foreign factories are absolutely miserable. But that's not here in America. In fact, if you find interviews with employees of one of the few remaining American Manufacturers, you find that they're almost unanimously happy to be employed in the manufacturing industry. Beyond the fact that there are laws in place preventing abusive work conditions, there's also something to be said about American manufacturing as a whole. Most of, if not all, American factories maintain a certain level of moral values that prevent the work environment from becoming intolerable. Additionally, the American people won't stand for sweatshop like conditions. Instead, they'll speak out both locally and globally (thanks to the socialization of the internet). Don't believe us? Take a look at American Apparel. The workers there are all extremely happy to be employed, and some of the sewing teams there are getting paid more than any other sewing machine operators in the world. It's not because they have to be. It's just living proof that the American system and ideals reach beyond stale black and white economy lessons. The reality is, people are good, the capitalist system does work, and in modern times, factory jobs don't have to be miserable just because that's how they've been perceived.
So to sum it all up, "Made in Vermont" is a concept that we feel strongly about. Of course it would be much easier to simply play the middle man between manufacturer and customer, but it wouldn't be right. It would perpetuate a business model that is extremely detrimental to the environment that we rely on, and an economic system that slowly puts our neighbors out of work. By bringing sewing manufacturing back home, we're going to be able to employ more people, user better materials, and lessen our impact on the environment. Sure, we'll never hit Walmart low-prices, but the reality is, you pay for cheap goods in other ways. When it comes to The An& Brand, your purchase has a direct impact on the path to a cleaner, more prosperous economy.