Made In The U.S.A.

I feel dirty.

In Adventures on March 7, 2009 at 12:49 am

Last night Shelley and I went to the mall.

She bought me a lovely sportcoat for Christmas, but it didn’t fit. (I’m larger than usual.) So we returned it a while ago and finally went to replace it.

I had also received a button-down shirt from The Gap. That Christmas gift from her aunt was also too small, and when I went to exchange it post Christmas the store was ransacked, so I waited. Last night, I traded it in.

First, The Gap.

Turns out there is something Made In The USA in the store. I found belts–a few, actually–that were stamped, “Genuine Leather. Made in USA.” Nice.

Problem is, they only had one size that fit me–and it was the exact black belt I was wearing at that very moment. I’m all for buying smart, and buying something I didn’t need on a technicality didn’t seem to jive very well with my responsibility mission. Sure, buying imported clothing doesn’t jive much either, but I figure the purchase was made long ago by someone else. I’m just collecting the goods today. If I forfeit the imported stuff I’m not exactly punishing the junk importer. I’m just wasting my–or my friends’ and families’–money.

Still. I feel kinda dirty.

I shopped all around The Gap and settled on something sad–a product that used to be MITUSA, and grandly so, and now represents the outsourcing of American manufacturing. I bought a pair of Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers. (Or, technically, I acquired.) They were Made In China.

Nike bought Converse, maker of the Chuck Taylor All Stars, in 2003. Everything changed. From Wikipedia:

Although Chuck Taylors are, along with Dr. Martens, still closely associated with punk fashion, punks have been the target of criticism for wearing a shoe that is ultimately manufactured by Nike, a company that has been accused of producing their shoes in third-world “sweatshops” (since 1998). Because of Nike’s alleged practices some see wearing Converse shoes as being at odds with punk’s general association with left-wing politics, particularly anarchism and some forms of revolutionary socialism. Many punks now wear sweatshop-free imitations, such as those made by the Blackspot Anticorporation or No Sweat Apparel, so as to avoid such an ideological conflict. One can recognize a pair of pre-Nike era All-Stars by the “Made in U.S.A.” marking found in the heels, but this part of the heel patch usually wears out somewhat quickly.

Well that’s a downer.

Getting new shoes felt good, too. The shiny new box that touted ecological-mindedness in a request to recycle printed just above the words “Made In China”, the clean and spiffy sneakers, the smell of various chemicals and adhesives… Getting nice new stuff is a rush. A rush I remember but haven’t felt in a while.

That’s a problem. Not the not feeling it, but the feeling it and liking it. I think that’s why we’re in this mess. Or at least why I am.

Sneakers in hand, I was off to find a sportcoat to replace the one that didn’t fit. Remember, I’m not buying–I’m exchanging!

We found a nice one from Alfani, a brand that proudly imports sportcoats from Indonesia. (Every time I see Indonesia on a tag, I think about Tom Waits drawling out the word in the story “What’s He Building In There?” I seriously recommend a listen. It sounds exactly like he did it when I saw him in concert last summer–his first show in St. Louis since he opened for Frank Zappa in 1973. But now I’m just bragging. It’s still not as cool as when blog readers #6 and #7 attended the boutique-scale taping of his VH1 Storytellers episode in 1999. Number 6, as I recall, could be spotted wearing a snazzy hat in the front row. You can’t see it online, to the best of my knowledge, but you can listen to part of it.) It’s a nice, light, summery sportcoat that will work whether I’m dressing up or dressing down–exactly what Shelley was hoping for when she bought the fancy unfitting one in the first place.

Tom Waits always wears a sportcoat.

I put it on and I feel good. Paired with my new shoes, I’m sure to look snappy. In fact, I think I’ll try ’em out together tonight.

I’ll look great, but I’ll feel kinda dirty. Nothing new there.


  1. In-DOH-Neee-ZSia

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