Inside Outdoor Retailer

Why ‘Made in America’ In The Outdoor Industry?

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‘Made in America’ is becoming a bigger part of the outdoor industry. Not only are consumers looking to support the ‘Made in America’ label, brands and their employees, are taking pride in bringing things back to U.S. soil and supporting their local economies. You might have had the chance to peruse the ‘Made in America’ showcase put on by the Outdoor Industry Association at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 15, but we wanted to hear from brands leading the movement on why they’ve included ‘Made in America’ in their business practices.

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A newcomer in the outdoor industry, Topo Designs has been making quite the name for themselves with their bags manufactured in Colorado and apparel in California. It’s been a huge part of the brand ever since their beginnings in a basement in Colorado. Adam Wells, Creative for Topo Designs, shares, “It’s been a really nice way to keep control over production. We work really close with our sew shop. We can get a sample driven down to our office and give feedback quickly. It’s a quick turnaround time. Aside from that it’s sustainable and we’re not spending a whole bunch of money on shipping.” Producing the whole line in the states comes with its difficulties. Adam details, “Sometimes price point is a hindrance and people are bummed. Production costs are higher and our price point reflects that. Also, keeping up with scale is tricky because as we grow our production facilities aren’t huge.”

Timbuk2 is another brand that started manufacturing in the US from the start. Rob Honeycutt started the messenger bag company out of his garage in the Mission District of San Francisco with a sewing machine bought with his first paycheck in 1989. Timbuk2’s roots inspired a lot of what the company values today. Michelle Nadeau Manager Strategic Projects & Marketing for Timbuk2 explains, “As part of our urban roots we’ve always wanted to support where we are from. Being from San Francisco, we’re a San Francisco brand. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to support our community hiring people that live in SF to work in SF doing manufacturing job.” Timbuk2 manufactures the customized portion of their line out of San Francisco, but run into the same issues as Topo with growth. “We do manufacture a lot of our other stuff overseas, but that’s just because in the mission district of SF there’s literally only so much we can do. We only have so much space,” says Michelle.

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Darn Tough has a similar issue, but it’s not quite the space – it’s the people. Darn Tough has been supporting the working families of Northfield, VT for three generations. Sabrina Fitzgerald, Customer Service Manager at Darn Tough, says “The only issue we face is that we can’t keep up with the amount of people we need for our growth.” ‘Made in America’ does come with its growing pains, but Sabrina suggests, “For other brands, it’s a passion for what you do and wanting to contribute to your community. If you have those two things you can make it successful.”

COMMUNITY QUESTION: Are you a ‘Made in America’ brand: what issues do you face and how have you resolved them? Are you a ‘Made in America’ consumer: why is the label important to you? Share: #weareOUTDOOR

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