Where Are the Most Common Clothing Brands Made?

Where 50 years ago, a “Made in America” label was all the praise an item needed to be bought out, these days consumers are more concerned with getting a favorable style at a cheap price point with reasonable quality. The country of origin rarely even enters into the equation. With this shift in perspective, companies have little incentive to maintain a workforce within the US, when it can be had for so much cheaper elsewhere. If the label isn’t scoring any points with consumers, they might as well cut some losses and opt for cheaper labor options in other countries. More and more companies have opted to go this route in the past several years, so much so that it can be downright impossible to find anything from the US in any given department store. Here are where the top clothing brands really manufacture their clothing.

Victoria’s Secret

The popular company’s line of intimates are manufactured in Colombo, Sri Lanka. This same operation also produces lingerie and intimate apparel for other stores like the Gap and Marks & Spencer.

Abercrombie & Fitch

If this company’s discriminatory hiring practices weren’t enough to turn off potential customers, their inhumane labor practices may be. In 2002, the company was accused of benefiting from sweatshop labor in Saipan, as well as scamming workers into signing on with them and then being forced to repay a bogus recruitment fee through arduous, unpaid labor as well as being forced to sign extremely restrictive contracts forbidding them to ask for a raise in wages, get married, have children, or participate in any religious or political activity.

Nike

The popular athletic footwear manufacturer maintains several plants in countries like Malaysia and Honduras. In 2008, they came under fire when it was discovered that a contractor at their Malaysian plant was confiscating workers’ passports and forcing them to sign contracts that obliged them to pay of their immigration debt, the same kind of indentured servitude of the 2002 Abercrombie & Fitch case. The Honduran plant has not fared much better, with 1,700 former workers still being owed a combined $2.2 million in unpaid severance pay in 2010.

Prada

Even this paragon of luxury maintains manufacturing plants in China. It is unclear what portion of Prada’s products are actually manufactured at that location. Other luxury brands that outsource part or all of their labor needs to China include Coach, Armani, and Marc Jacobs.

In a world of ever-increasing globalization, the conditions under which consumer goods are manufactured matters more and more. Though maintaining a manufactory in under-regulated countries doesn’t necessarily mean that a company is treating its workers unfairly, the reality is such that, in places where labor laws are not recognized or not adequately enforced, it is much easier to commit human rights abuses and get away with it. It is the job of the consumer to be informed about how products are made, and speak up if they don’t agree with the process.