Age matters when it comes to the Made in America push.
As retailers and brands step up their domestic sourcing, one key finding is that the older the consumer, the more they care about where their apparel is made. The finding indicates that fashion brands looking to justify a higher price for domestically produced apparel might have a marketing challenge on their hands, especially if they target the Millennial consumer.
An April telephone survey of just more than 1,000 American adults by Gallup Inc. revealed that 45 percent of respondents had made a “special effort” over the past several months to buy products made in the U.S., versus 55 percent who said they had not. When broken down by various demographic attributes, including income and political affiliation, no single factor affected the focus on U.S. origin more than age, with interest in U.S.-made merchandise in direct, and somewhat dramatic, proportion to year of birth.
More than three in five — 61 percent — of those 65 and older indicated they’d made a special effort to buy Made in America products, a figure that dropped to 53 percent among those 50 to 64, and to 45 percent among those 30 to 49. Among those 18 to 29, the number dropped to just 20 percent, less than a third of the figure for seniors.
Those results mirror a study conducted for WWD by The NPD Group last year, in which 89.2 percent of those 65 and older said they “always or usually” pay attention to where the products they purchase are made, a number that fell to 70.9 percent among those 18 to 24 and was just slightly higher — 72.9 percent — for those between 25 and 34.
“Older people tend to be more patriotic, but people aren’t going to tell you that they’re not,” said Jeffrey Jones, managing editor at Gallup. “Could it be that older Americans have witnessed the erosion of the U.S. manufacturing base and are paying more attention to questions about country of origin? Perhaps.”
Jones also suggested that, unlike their older counterparts, younger Americans are simply more accustomed to buying imported products, from cars to coats, and were raised during a period when free trade was the order of the day.
Younger individuals also might lack the financial resources of their elders and gravitate toward less expensive imports as they more directly confront the realities of a tougher job market, the need to pay back student loans and other pressures on the pocketbook. Yet Gallup’s data provided no suggestion of likelihood to “buy American” based on wealth, with 46 percent of upper-income individuals saying they’d made a special effort to purchase domestic merchandise, versus 41 percent for middle-income respondents and 43 percent among those identifying themselves as lower income.
Nearly two-thirds of the sample — 64 percent — said they were willing to pay more for U.S.-made products. Among those who’d made a special effort to buy American, 88 percent said they were willing to pay more — and even among those who hadn’t made that effort, 44 percent said they were willing to pay more.
Among those saying they’d make a special effort to buy domestically produced products, 32 percent said they would do so to support the country, be patriotic or simply “Buy American,” versus 31 percent who selected “keeps or creates jobs in the U.S.” and 20 percent who simply said that doing so was good for the U.S. economy. Those equating U.S. manufacture with better quality and better products constituted 13 percent of the sample, and those saying they didn’t trust products made abroad or were afraid to buy them just 3 percent.
Although Gallup hadn’t previously polled the public about its feelings toward buying American, it had surveyed sentiments about U.S. manufacturing before. This year, 19 percent said they thought U.S. production was “a lot better” than a few years ago, and 52 percent said it was “a little better,” versus 21 and 46 percent, respectively, in an October 1990 survey.
Bayard Winthrop, a former investment banker who was previously president and principal of the accessories firm Chrome, last year founded American Giant based on his belief that Americans were hungry for high-quality U.S.-made sportswear and that such merchandise could be priced more affordably if it were sold directly to consumers on the Internet — at american-giant.com — rather than through stores, which would add their own margin requirements into the price. The idea has caught on, and the firm has broadened its product range and moved into women’s.
Taking the final spot on the mens’ portion of New York Fashion Week calendar next month will be none other than @tomford. Though he’s shown his men’s wear in New York in the past, this will mark the first time the designer has shown his men’s collection alone during New York Fashion Week: Men’s. His runway show will debut on February 6 at the Park Avenue Armory. #wwdfashion
London-based couture house @ralphandrusso has certainly been in the spotlight, having its dresses worn by @beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle in her engagement photos and more. For couture, Tamara Ralph focused on ornamentation — think: feathers with chain mail, jet embroidery and clusters of pearls and crystals. See the rest of the collection on WWD.com #wwdfashion #couture (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
Minnie Mouse celebrated her 90th birthday by getting her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her celebratory luncheon, @coach’s creative director @stuartvevers dressed her in a custom made prairie dress, complete with Vever’s take on the polka dot – black sequined versions – under a cropped motorcycle jacket. The designer also put his own mark on Minnie’s classic red shoes, infusing the color with sparkles and adding some Coach crystals. “We chose colors that were very Minnie and also represented quintessential Coach elements,” said Vevers. #wwdfashion #nationalpolkadotday (📷: George Chinsee)
@nickjonas is unveiling his first-ever apparel collection through a partnership with John Varvatos. The limited-edition capsule, which makes its debut in spring, also marks the first time the designer has collaborated with anyone on a line. “The process in working with Nick is amazing. It’s inspiring to be around someone who is not only connected with the trade that they do, but also with what’s happening in the environment around him, and how that connects to what we do with style,” said Varvatos. (RG: @johnvarvatos) #wwdfashion
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)