If you’re not aware of the resurgence of American-made clothing brands, we strongly encourage you to come out from under your rock now. The prevalence of cheaply made imported style goods isn’t exactly slowing down. A survey of 1,076 Americans recently conducted by the Associated Press showed that roughly 67 percent of them prefer cheaper foreign goods over more expensive American-made goods from the same brand. Longevity and durability were non-factors, apparently.
The truth of the matter is that the initial cost of these foreign made goods is less, but they generally are not nearly as well made as American brands. The reason is surprisingly simple: At this stage in globalization, no American-made goods company can compete trying to create budget products. They'll be undercut every time. However, as you begin to look at finer brands that create lasting products out of the best materials, American companies begin to dominate.
The durability and craftsmanship of American goods means that they’re actually less expensive to own because they last longer. But not just any American-made brand can cut the mustard. We’ve selected some of the premiere American style brands that have either stood the test of time or have survived the crucible of the modern market. Either way, these are some of the best American-made brands we’ve come across. Not all of them make exclusively American goods, while other are strictly home grown. You’d be smart to start building a collection from these manufacturers since they’re made with American pride and knowhow, likely just down the street from you.
Wearing a pair of Allen Edmonds is wearing a piece of American heritage. Many of the brands here are newcomers to the stage, but Allen Edmonds has been crafting fine American shoes since 1922. They're still based in Wisconsin, though they’re now headquartered in Port Washington, WI, about ten miles ten miles from their origin in Belgium, WI.
You won’t find trendy shoes in Allen Edmonds lineup, only classics. From fine summer leather sandals to cap toes to the classic military style boots that got the company started, there isn’t an unattractive shoe in the bunch. They’re so good that Presidents Reagan through George W. Bush wore a pair at their inaugurations. Our favorite is the Strand cap-toe in walnut. An easy choice for your first nice dress shoes, the brown leather has a richness and depth that visibly separates them from cheaper options. Primer founder Andrew Snavely has had his pair, shown above, for seven years and they look just as good as the day he got them. Plus, they’ll easily outlast you if you care for them regularly.
They’re also recraftable, meaning you can send them back to Allen Edmonds to be brought to like-new condition, extending their normal life well beyond their years.
This iconic outerwear manufacturer got its start back in 1959 in Knoxville, TN thanks to Samuel Gelber and Herman “Breezy” Wynn. They pitched the now classic MA-1 flight jacket to the federal government and locked in a contract that would make their mark in American-made apparel history, and it would eventually become the first military flight jacket to become civilian wear.
The MA-1 is still made by Alpha today, and it looks as good now as it did back then with its simple nylon exterior and reversible orange interior for rescue visibility. Pair it with jeans and a solid pair of boots, and you have yourself instant iconic style. A pair of aviators would just be icing on the cake.
This company that was founded recently in 2011 doesn’t mess around with its message. It’s a direct to consumer clothing manufacturer that makes traditional sweats in America without compromise. Rather than spending money on distribution and middlemen, it sells its own clothing line directly from its website and even offer something as nuts as a lifetime warranty.
We’re completely in love with their tough-as-nails, soft-as-hell Classic Crew. Its custom three-end, 12.4 ounce heavyweight 100% cotton fleece is something you won’t find anywhere else, and it’s as durable as it sounds. It’s a trimmer look but no less traditional. Pair this with jeans or khakis and a white t-shirt or button-down oxford, and you’ve got yourself a sporting set that will look relaxed but put together for the colder months of the year.
Any American company would kill for the kind of history and heritage behind American Optics, a manufacturer of military grade sunglasses since way back in 1833. Not only did they supply the U.S Military and Allied Forces in WWII with glasses, sights and goggles, but they also brought polarized lenses to use in 1940, reducing dangerous glare in crucial circumstances – as well as having their shades worn by astronauts during the moon landing.
Today, they continue to make some of the best optics in the world, and their aviator sunglasses not only evoke their history but also convey timeless style that will never be out of vogue. You can choose your frame style and color, frame size, lens type and even earpiece.
Our favorites are the Original Pilot Sunglasses with Matte Chrome frames. The bayonet-style earpieces rest comfortably and look great no matter what the occasion. And these aren’t posers. They’re the genuine article that’s stood the test of time for over half a century. If they’re good enough for the U.S. military, they’re more than good enough for you.
American Trench started back in 2008 with a singular idea, to create one seriously awesome American made trench coat without cutting any corners. The result is a traditional yet unmistakably stylish hip length trench coat that’s made with an exclusive military-grade Ventile fabric from the UK. It’s densely woven from 100% cotton that uses the world’s finest long staple fiber. There’s no coating on the fabric, but the weave is so dense, and the fibers swell when wet, providing a natural waterproofing. It also happens to be windproof and breathable.
They’ve since expanded their line of outerwear to include a blackwatch slicker and our personal favorite, the Ripstop Ventile Field Jacket made from a tougher version of the same stuff as the iconic trench. It’s patch pockets and unadorned design make it the perfect three-season coat that will draw attention to your fanciest casual wear.
Take one look at Billykirk’s products, and you’d swear they’ve been around for decades, but brothers Chris and Kirk Bray got their start only in 1999 as a means to counter the trend of cheaply made, cheaply priced mass market goods. The idea was to create products men could take pride in, ones that would last well beyond what was expected. Their primary specialty is leather goods that include bags, briefcases, belts, and wallets, and they’re built with the kind of style and quality that perfectly round out a well put-together outfit.
Their simple but stylish approach are the opposite of appointments that make it look like you’re trying way too hard. Their No. 427 Bi-Fold Card Case is the perfect slim carry wallet that’s timeless and beatifully crafted. It bucks the trend of overly complicated slim carry wallets and looks great with any outfit. And when you’re done, dock it on their seriously uncomplicated No. 471 Large Valet Tray made with beautiful, natural American sourced 8 oz vegetable tanned leather, which is big enough to hold virtually all of your EDC.
Ebbets Field Flannels
Ebbets Field old school wool baseball uniforms and caps are a resurrected standard from teams and an era long gone. But the style remains thanks to owner and founder Jerry Cohen, who built the company not because he was looking to start a business but based on his quest to find a traditional wool baseball uniform to wear in his band. Ebbets Field Flannels was born, and now they’re an icon in the clothing industry, outfitting the likes of Spike Lee, David Letterman and Hollywood stars in baseball period movies.
Our favorite items are their colorful wool ball caps that display logos and colors that are unfamiliar to most but iconic in the catacombs of baseball history. We would choose the short visored Chicago Whales 1915 for its connection to the iconic Wrigley Field and last year’s World Series Winners, the Chicago Cubs.
Parker Dusseau is very much a niche American brand that caters to urban commuters and cyclists, but with a more stylish twist than we’ve seen before. Think of this San Francisco-based company as a clothier for the gentleman cyclist. Founder Vaughn Brown lives and breathes to build the quality into every piece, and his focus is on clothing that provides both a tailored fit and real mobility, features that might seem mutually exclusive until you try one of their pieces on.
One of our favorites is the Classic Work Shirt. Not only is it incredibly well made with strong and soft Japanese cotton, it also has brilliant features built in like the Powermesh Action Back that gives hidden extra material at the shoulder seams that provide additional movement but also ventilation, along with subtle but very effective reflective trim in the shirt’s collar and cuffs.
Red Wing was founded by Charles Beckman way back in 1905 in Chicago, and they haven’t departed from their tradition of making great work boots. Sure, they have new styles, but their Red Wing Heritage boots are some of the most recognized in the industry, and their Classic Moc Style 1907 is based on their original work boot. Often imitated but never duplicated, they’re icons in the industry, and it’s their classic ethos that makes them so special. One of our favorites is the Beckman Round in Black Cherry.
They perform just as well on a night out with selvedge denim jeans and a blazer as they do with cotton canvas work trousers. While most of us tend to gravitate towards traditional work boots, these add a dose of simple style that deviate from the norm.
Not all motorcycle jackets are created equal. You can go buy a $150 Chinese made version from your local department store, and it might last a few years, if you’re lucky. Then, there are the ones you pass down to your kids. That’s exactly the kind of stuff Schott NYC infuses every one of their leather (and textile) jackets with.
The Schott brothers pretty much invented the leather motorcycle jacket and were the first ones to put a zipper on a jacket, rather than traditional buttons. They’re even credited with creating the WWII leather bomber jacket and the navy melton wool pea coat, and going on to make proven military outerwear for the next sixty years.
Our personal favorite is the waxy P571 Mission Jacket with its simple and classic design. The thick, natural brown cowhide will generate a gorgeous patina over the years, and its slim silhouette will go with just about any casual wear.
Stock Mfg. Co.
This group of guys in Chicago started their own apparel company with zero experience, but they were committed to doing it right and starting their education from scratch. The result was a line of simply styled but well-constructed items with a strong American ethos. Their long and short sleeve button up shirts work well in just about any leisure or casual environment, and their abbreviate outerwear offerings are just right for the chill of fall that’s upon us.
But our personal favorite is neither shirt nor coat, but a truly handsome Gray Waxed Cotton Apron that’s made right in Chicago from 8.25 oz waxed cotton that’s both stain and water resistant. It’s trimmed in leather with cotton twill ties and loop. It’s the kind of accessory that’ll make you want to get on those projects you’ve been putting off because you’ll just look so damned cool doing them.
Tony Patella and Pete Searson (tella-son) are purveyors of fine raw selvedge denim out of San Francisco, and that’s what got them started. The financial crisis of ‘08-’09 drove them to create a lasting product of the finest quality, totally counter-culture to the near-universal mindset of purchasing cheap and cheaply made goods. Their John Graham Mellor, slim straight fit jeans was their staple product, and Tellason has since expanded their line to including additional jean fits, jean jackets, shirts, and other accessories But their commitment remains to provide some of the best American selvedge denim around.
Our choice would be the beautifully simple Selvedge Denim Coverall Jacket, which uses a Japanese red line selvedge 12.5 oz. denim. It's a noticeably different style for a jean jacket compared to the traditional trucker you see, but it retains a classic look that will go with everything. The fit is exceptional, as is the dark denim quality. It even has a bit of room for layering. It might just become your go-to coverall for the chill of fall.
Topo doesn’t make all their items in the US of A, but their iconic packs are all home grown, as are some of their classic apparel items. The Colorado-based company specializes in outdoor-focused style that’s fashionable because of the simplicity and quality built right in. They even have a lifetime warranty and will repair or replace any item that encounters an issue. How’s that for standing behind your product? From packs to pants to outwear, their minimalist style will work just as well for the urban environment as it does for the trail.
We love their American-made Mountain Jacket because it packs light but protects perfectly. Not only is its nylon construction waterproof, it’s also breathable for everyday comfort. The four large snap pockets are capacious, and the jacket even folds into the back pocket to operate as a travel pillow. You’ll wonder what the hell you did without it.
Wolverine boots has been around since before WWI, and their heritage shines through every product they make, especially the home grown ones. G.A. Krause founded the shoe and tannery company in 1883 and coined it Wolverine in 1921. Wolverine was able to process super thick, ultra tough but very rigid shell horsehide to make it pliable and created their ‘1000 Mile” Shoe because it was meant to last just that long. Today, they honor that tradition with their line of 1000 Mile boots and shoes that use the same old-school construction that put their name on the map.
Our favorites are the Evans Boot is handcrafted in Michigan with full-grain Horween Leather, an eye-catching stacked leather outsole with a robust Vibram lug sole and Goodyear Welt Construction. It’s a boot that can be easily mount a motorcycle or do dinner with an easy-going trim blazer. To own a pair is to understand what fine American craftsmanship is.
There’s a reason why the Woolrich Buffalo Check Plaid Shirt is ubiquitous. It’s been around since the dawn of time (otherwise known as 1850), and it’s a classic. This longstanding American brand is also known for supplying their famous wool blankets to Union soldiers in the Civil War and to our troops in WWI and WWII, and they continue to make some of the best made wool blankets in existence with many of the same patterns that date back to their origins. They outfit both men and women with shirts, pants, outerwear, and accessories with many of them made right here in the states with an unmistakable logo. And though you may not consider a blanket a style item, you won’t realize how much one can change the way your home feels until it's draped over your favorite chair.
Our choice would be the US made Cavalry Civil War Wool Blanket that measures a substantial 66×80” and is made with thick 85% wool and 15% nylon fabric dyed in navy and brick yarns for subtle yet lively hue. Wrap yourself in this with a proper drink and a good book, and you might not leave the house.
Ask any stylish outdoorsman, and they know Filson. From their iconic waxed tin cloth fabric that adorns coats and the rugged twill and bridle leather on their, they know how to craft stuff that will embarrass imitators from overseas. Filson dates back to 1897, rising out of the Gold Rush, to create impeccably made, ultra-rugged outdoor clothing that now runs utterly counter-culture to the cheapness of mass-made foreign goods. Whether you hunt, hike, bird or just embrace the great outdoors, Filson has some of the best American stuff in existence today.
Most know them for their beautiful briefcases, but we have our eye set on the Canvas Short Cruiser. Thick, 100% cotton canvas, and with both utility and handwarmer pockets, it’s far more than eye candy. The functional and stylish coat will crush with a pair of flat front olive chinos, a dark denim shirt and weathered boots.
It seems so many great American clothing manufacturers emerge from California, and Freenote is no exception. Hailing from San Juan Capistrano in SoCal, Freenote is all about American heritage with their distinct line of denim, outerwear, and shirts. The Broderick brothers pull their style from vintage Americana with a bit of a modern twist, and their focus is as much on hardware as on the fabric itself.
We fell for the Classic Jacket in beautiful 7-wale, utterly crumple-able Gold Corduroy fabric. With its Japanese-sourced corduroy and custom made metal trim, it’s surely going to be a fall staple for you. Our favorite touch is the hand-selected interior leather patch with a silhouette of a flintlock pistol embossed within. Pair this classic with lighter denim and brown work boots, and a metal lunch box might not be too far from your repertoire.
If you need proof that your American brand of choice is rooted in tradition, look no further than Hamilton Shirts. When foreign made jobbies go on sale for $15, you should be on high alert that cheaply bought looks and feels the same way. Hamilton is the opposite. Whether it’s a standard fit or a custom-made shirt (for a mere $50 extra), you can be assured that the company that got its start in 1883 knows a thing or two about making a damned fine shirt. You can even request a try-on shirt for a fully refundable $100 and work with a fit specialist to craft your perfect shirt. They cost a pretty penny, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better dress shirt anywhere. It’s American bespoke at its best.
We would choose the Karnes Check in Fuscia with its tight pattern and the kind of colors that match echo the brightness of fall. Hand cut and hand sewn Italian-sourced Egyptian cotton, spread collar, and the kind of look that can go with our without a tie means this might be your new favorite.
Who says neighbors can’t make great business partners. Buck Mason is evidence that it can work and work beautifully, Sasha Koehn and Erik Allen were neighbors in Venice, CA, and they paired up to start Buck Mason in 2013 to create small batch clothing productions using both traditional and modern manufacturing techniques for t-shirts and jeans. Having found immense success in a competitive vertical market, they’ve since expanded their line of great basics to include outerwear, sweaters, hats (partnering with the likes of Stetson), accessories, etc.
We love the Pima Curved Hem Henley in Shale. This four-button lightweight 100% cotton henley has a brilliant curved hem for the ideal untucked look. Count on this to be one of your go-to staples in your closet, especially since it comes in four versatile colors.