Executive Briefings

'Buy American' Push Ruffles Some Fashion Feathers

"It's America first, you better believe it," President Trump said, standing over a tool cabinet at the Snap-On Tools headquarters in Kenosha, Wis., where he signed his "Buy American, Hire American" executive order this month to favor American companies for federal contracts.

'Buy American' Push Ruffles Some Fashion Feathers

And with that, Trump staked claim to an issue that has become a pet cause for a group that, generally speaking, would just as soon wear a Power Rangers helmet as a "Make America Great Again" hat: the urban beards-and-selvage-jeans set who transformed the "Made in U.S.A." clothing label into a men's wear status symbol over the past decade.

In any other year, having the president as an ally might be considered a coup. With this president?

Well, for brands that have staked their identity on "Made in U.S.A." chic, it is complicated.

“Politics has become extremely contentious and polarizing in this country, and we don’t want our brand caught in the political crossfire,” said Jacob Hurwitz, a founder of American Trench, a maker of fashion-forward outerwear and hosiery in Philadelphia that prominently displays the motto “Always American-Made” on its website. “To be honest, we can’t afford it.”

In fact, Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” order will have no tangible effect on the market for plaid shirts or hand-sewn leather hunting boots, since it concerns procurement policies by federal agencies, not purchases by individual consumers, on products like steel (it also aims to rework the visa program for foreign technical workers). Even so, the order helps cement the “Buy American” impulse with the protectionist “America First” policies that Trump hammered away at on the campaign trail.

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And with that, Trump staked claim to an issue that has become a pet cause for a group that, generally speaking, would just as soon wear a Power Rangers helmet as a "Make America Great Again" hat: the urban beards-and-selvage-jeans set who transformed the "Made in U.S.A." clothing label into a men's wear status symbol over the past decade.

In any other year, having the president as an ally might be considered a coup. With this president?

Well, for brands that have staked their identity on "Made in U.S.A." chic, it is complicated.

“Politics has become extremely contentious and polarizing in this country, and we don’t want our brand caught in the political crossfire,” said Jacob Hurwitz, a founder of American Trench, a maker of fashion-forward outerwear and hosiery in Philadelphia that prominently displays the motto “Always American-Made” on its website. “To be honest, we can’t afford it.”

In fact, Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” order will have no tangible effect on the market for plaid shirts or hand-sewn leather hunting boots, since it concerns procurement policies by federal agencies, not purchases by individual consumers, on products like steel (it also aims to rework the visa program for foreign technical workers). Even so, the order helps cement the “Buy American” impulse with the protectionist “America First” policies that Trump hammered away at on the campaign trail.

Read Full Article

'Buy American' Push Ruffles Some Fashion Feathers