Union-made at working man's prices?
November 10, 2011 2:14 PM   Subscribe

Men's fashion filter: Where to buy quality, union-made, 'work wear' classics without breaking the bank?

I'm looking to update & simplify my wardrobe, but I'm having a hard time finding clothes that I like and meet my criteria. My style & tastes trend towards 'classic american workwear', you know chambray & oxford shirts, carhartts, boots, wool sweaters, etc..

My wardrobe now is a mess of thrift store finds, stained dungarees, levis and more tshirts than I'd ever need. I'd like to replace most of it with a few union-made classics in natural materials, but other than pants at boutique prices ($250 for a pair of jeans?), I seem to only find poly-cotton blends or hideous stonewashed stuff.

I'm familiar with A Continous Lean's The American List, and unionmadegoods.com, are there any other good resources for finding what I'm looking for?
posted by gofargogo to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (8 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
I'll be following this question with interest. Links from Findusmade.com turned up the All-American Clothing Company, Justice Clothing, unionlabel.com and The Union Shop.
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:25 PM on November 10, 2011

Dickies? Not totally sure if they're union-made, but it's an American company and they're one of the brands listed on unionmadegoods.com.
posted by phunniemee at 2:25 PM on November 10, 2011

Beware unionmadegoods.com--while they probably have one or two items that were actually made by unionized employees (they carry Carhartt), it's mostly just a name.
posted by pullayup at 2:38 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks pullayup, that's what I discovered too, and what prompted this question. Basically I'm looking for a lot of the kind of stuff they have, but actually union made in the US (and preferably, not quite as costly....)
posted by gofargogo at 2:45 PM on November 10, 2011

It's probably not the answer you're looking for but clothes that are made in the United States by union labor are going to charge "boutique prices" precisely because labor is expensive and both supply (of clothes) and demand (for the clothes) is lower than for non-union made clothes manufactured elsewhere.
posted by dfriedman at 3:26 PM on November 10, 2011

The Round House double fronts are being sold by the aforementioned Union Label for less than the price of equivalent Chinese Carhartts at my local Fred Meyer as well as the Carhartt-compatible models sold at my feed store.

I don't know if Filson are a union shop, but most of their clothing is Seattle made. Check their site though. Also, Filson jackets are awesome.
posted by stet at 11:13 PM on November 10, 2011

Yes, Filson operates a union sewing shop at their Seattle headquarters.

I have many of their products myself that I purchased for their simplicity, unmatched durability, timeless style, and because buying handmade local things that last longer than you do is the most "green" and sustainable thing one can do in my opinion. I have some Filson things that are 20 years old and still look as good (better, actually, with the "patina" that quality materials acquire over time) as they did when I originally bought them.

Their prices are not bargain basement low, but are similar to that of "branded fashion", which, by definition, is only designed to deliver a current aesthetic and is often built only well enough to make it through the current fashion cycle. Filson stuff will last a lifetime with normal wear and tear, so is a bargain when you look at the prices that way. It should be informative to note that there is a "resale" market for Filson clothes on places like eBay, and that the prices for their used clothing are not hugely cheaper than that of the new stuff. They are clothes that actually manage to maintain "resale value."

Good luck.
posted by nickjadlowe at 8:37 AM on November 11, 2011

I recommend Justice Clothing, as I've been trying to buy only union-made or, failing that, clothes made without indentured labor and I've never been disappointed by anything from JC. They sell my favorite slacks: http://www.justiceclothing.com/thereis/justice/pa20283.html

They're very high-quality and fit true-to-size. My favorite way to describe them is that they can withstand a medium-speed knife slash. I haven't tested this but it's a dense twill that still looks plenty dressy.

I've also ordered from No Sweat before: http://www.nosweatapparel.com/index.html

Unfortunately, they had to close their consumer-facing online store, but they're still in operation for wholesale needs.
posted by burnfirewalls at 10:00 AM on November 11, 2011

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