Do men really care where their clothing is made, and, are they willing to pay more for a sport coat if it comes from Westminister, Maryland and not China? Club Monaco is betting that the answer is yes, and not only amongst the fashion savvy, celebrity blogger crowd but mainstream America. From the outside, it looks like a modest and smart gamble, as most of Club Monaco’s 35 stores are based in or around cities nationwide where shoppers tend to follow trends and are more fashion conscious. Is “Made in the U.S.A.” a trendy label thing, or is it an actual movement that will help pull up the moribund American garment manufacturing business? Unfortunately such a small endeavor may only shine a light on the issue, and not actually create a turn-around. Competing with China is akin to a local little league team playing against the Yankees – that behemoth, massively funded, “evil empire,” that uses it’s vast financial resources to pound the opposition. The heart of the issue lies in China’s continual manipulation of their currency, the yuan. If America shows any signs of life in the import/export battle, China simply lowers the value of their currency, making Chinese goods all the more appealing to American retail businesses¬† and customers. This unfair advantage props up the “Made in China” brand at the cost of American jobs.

The question to ask: is it a quality issue, is it about supporting the American economy, or both? We have to hope that it’s the latter, as quality has dramatically improved in China, so much so that Miuccia Prada last year uttered a phrase heard around the fashion world: “Sooner or later, it will happen to everyone because [Chinese manufacturing] is so good.” This, coming from the gatekeeper of luxury and fine goods. Scary.

Curiously, Club Monaco does not sell clothing online. For such a highly visible retailer that is part of the Ralph Lauren empire you would expect at least some form of online shopping experience, however limited. So in order to get any of the very cool pieces from the new Made in the U.S.A. collection you’ll have to trek to one of the nearest stores.¬† They’ve picked a winner to lead the charge. Michael Williams has become a creative force through his hugely popular website A Continuous Lean, that started as a simple list of top-notch American companies and is now a cultural bellwether on men. I would hope that the partnership succeeds and have no doubt that it will.

Some of the highlights from the Club Monaco Made in the U.S.A. collection shown above include:

-Vintage fit, 100% cotton twill sport coat, made in Westminister, Maryland. $235.

-14 oz weight, Japanese and Turkish denim, made in Los Angeles, California. $139.

-Slim fit 100% cotton sky blue and navy plaid shirt, made in Ashland, Pennsylvania. $140

-Red & navy, gray and white, 100% silk rep ties, made in New York, New York. $89.50

And for one final thought, the collection does feel a little bit like Toyota heralding their plant in Indiana, while most of their manufacturing base remains outside of the U.S. Once the collaboration sells out for instance, will Club Monaco produce a Made in Taiwan video? We know the answer to that question. And for those American brands that are only producing goods in the U.S.A. they must be looking upon this partnership with some level of skepticism. Regardless, it’s a very good thing.


Category: Best of, Fashion, Retail.

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