WASHINGTON — As more U.S. brands endorse the Made in America movement and shift some production back to the U.S., the American Apparel & Footwear Association has launched a search engine on its Web site to highlight members that have U.S. manufacturing facilities and capabilities.

The AAFA unveiled the feature on Tuesday in advance of its semiannual meeting of domestic manufacturers.

“One of AAFA’s goals is to facilitate a discussion that makes it just as easy to source across the street as it is across the ocean,” said AAFA chairman Rick Helfenbein, who is also president of Luen Thai USA. “The ability to identify Made in USA partners is essential to building a viable business case that incorporates domestic manufacturing into the commercial supply chain. Our new database functionality makes that process easier.”

Made in USA was a key topic at AAFA’s executive summit in March, where executive vice president Stephen Lamar declared it a “hot topic” and stressed that the association had received several inquiries from members about “building a business case for Made in USA.”

In 2012, domestic apparel and footwear manufacturing increased 8.6 and 9 percent, respectively, according to the AAFA. Overall domestic apparel manufacturing has grown more than 15 percent since 2010, while domestic footwear manufacturing has grown 17.6 percent.

“With a declining military market, the U.S. apparel and footwear domestic manufacturing base must continually seek out new opportunities to grow their business,” said Michael Mansh, chairman of AAFA’s Government Contracts Committee and president of Pennsylvania Apparel Co. “The introduction of domestic search capabilities into the AAFA database is one in a string of many steps AAFA is taking to support and promote the capabilities of our domestic manufacturing member companies.”

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