Reborn in the USA

IMG_0730To work in the New York fashion industry, you must be willing to work 12 hour days on a regular basis. And weekends too. This is not news; I’ve lamented it often, Cloth Ears. Forget the family dinners, walking the dog, attending school plays, cultivating a city allotment of cabbage roses. These activities do not contribute to your boss’s projected growth figures.

Garments I have designed while employed in this fair land have always been manufactured in other lands. My designs have passport stamps from Poland, India, China, Vietnam, Portugal, and  Cambodia.  Well-travelled but exhausted. In the words of James Murphy: New York I love you, but you’re bringing me down.

This morning’s jobs report was upbeat though, wasn’t it? 203,000 new hires in November; unemployment at a 5 year low; the job rate falling to 7%. I can hear the champagne corks popping on Wall Street all the way from the Lower East Side.

Innovative and American manufactured

Thanksgiving over? Innovative and American manufactured

Now, allow me a moment of preaching and then I’m going to show you some very pretty things, promise. Here goes: Former apparel factories are now gyms and multistory car parks all over this country. Imported is always cheaper. No one in the US will work for the hourly rate of $2. 75, like factory workers in Bangladesh, nor should they have to. I wouldn’t, no matter how magnificent this country nor  how handsome this Mid Westerner I married. And sorry to get all Obama on you, but that’s not how the middle class is rebuilt. Statistics show that customers (that’s you guys) believe that American made means better quality. I’m with you on that. But are you just saying it? Or do you really mean it? Because you keep buying the other stuff…

I mean, Ralph Lauren was making his US Olympic team uniforms in China until you lot kicked up a fuss. Then, boy, did he have a change of heart! No one wants to offend you guys. See how this works? You call the shots. JC Penney still wins for $13 T-shirts but will the jersey withstand 3 machine cycles? Probably not. You get what you pay for and when you invest in a good winter coat, you might just be investing in your country at the same time.

Mai Vu and Dimitri Koumbis, founders of Bishop Collective

Mai Vu and Dimitri Koumbis, founders of Bishop Collective

Which brings me to Bishop Collective. Two modern day pioneer folk, Dimitri Koumbis and Mai Vu, industry veterans who believe fervently that manufacturing must come home for America to be great again, have launched their online retail business which was showcased in an exclusive pop-up event held last night in New York’s art gallery district. I attended to lend my support. And would you look what gorgeous things can sprout from the American heartland…



I was peering at, in fact was quite entranced by, this interesting arrangement of glass bulbs hanging on string when a flash of something familiar at the far wall caught my eye. A shocking pink arrow seemed to be indicating something. Well, what do we have here, I thought…

IMG_0721I got closer…

IMG_0710Well, of course. Silk for the Feed Dogs was made in the USA too. And while I might not have been born here, I was reborn.

Christmas is coming and those stockings need filled with some home-grown goodness! For more about Bishop Collective and their wide range of clothing, accessories and home furnishings, check out their website: 

My novel, which was conceived, written, printed and bound in this fine land, is now available. You can buy Silk for the Feed Dogs here.


  1. Your words and pics really pop!

  2. Monica

    I LOVE reading your posts Jackie! I’m so Happy for you, and proud of you – your writing is so fun to read!!! Monica 🙂 hi 2 Peter!!!

    • Hey Monica! Thanks for checking in and following my rambling. It’s nice to know I can reach you no matter where you decide to flit off to next, even swimming with giant turtles! 🙂

  3. Monica

    from Milan….;) mwah!

  4. petermcl2013

    Indeed it would be great if more things would be made here in the USA and unfortunately I’m sure that while the olympic uniforms were being finished in America, the Chinese assembly line didn’t miss a beat stitching pony emblemed polos for the masses. If only these big companies that have sway would lean more in the direction of ‘Made in the USA’ but it only those every masses that will stop the swaying by standing firm. So stand up America!

    Oh and really the Nice pillows by the way!! 🙂

  5. Jackie, You and I both know we would never, ever sew for $2.75 an hour! Its sad, but I think America’s eye’s got bigger and to make their wallets bigger they swayed to other countries for bigger profits. Visiting that website. Want to check out those pillows since I makes lots of those! Silk For The Feed Dogs is so far great! Wish I had more time to read.

    • It’s happening in Europe too, Elle. The Made In Italy label is under great threat. We got too used to believing we can have whatever we want for $13.99. Fast fashion = Fast extinction. Those pillows are rather cushy, aren’t they? Great for snuggling into with a good book 😉

  6. 100% with you on this subject Jackie, albeit from the European point of view… but Europe, as the US, follows the exact same sad trend. The more we, consumers, become aware the better the chances we can reverse this. Cheap fashion can only mean hard labour/life in a less fortunate part of the world (and unemployment in ours). Initiatives like Bishop’s make me believe there’s still hope; plus I love their bags, I’m checking their website for more!
    I haven’t read your novel (yet), I only found your blog the other day… hope to do so soon!

    • Hi Lia,
      Thanks for dropping in!
      I know in particular that the Made in Italy label is also at risk which makes me sad. Italian quality was second to none. But as the initiatives like Bishop crop up and more people become familiar with the idea of home grown goods,people might stop the ridiculous expectation that they can pick up anything for a couple of euro. Something has to give. Now with all this common sense and reason flowing, let’s shop! I have been circling their red leather shoulder bag 🙂

  7. Please post over one of each of those bags.
    I’ll pay into your Nigerian bank account 😉

    • Oh so your’e a bag lady? Me too. Sucker for them! And I need a new everyday bag…I’d look very chic during my cafe hopping… Never mind that but my laptop won’t fit…

  8. Excellent post and very beautiful offerings. I will be checking out +B ‘s website asap.
    I have a friend who lives in Prato, Italy and it was interesting to listen about their Chinese immigrants/illegal immigrants issues within the garment and ready-to-wear industry. Raids on factories employing illegal immigrants (2010) highlighted problems with the growth of an apparel industry in Prato based on cheap, and sometimes illegal, labor.
    PS. Your book was showcased in such a lovely manner!

  9. terminalbeard

    It is increasingly difficult to find things made in the USA. When I was in grade school in New York city one of my classes required me to make a shirt, yes sewing. was taught along with many other skills. But that was a private school and i was very fortunate. I enjoy crafts shows and am always pleased and amazed by the creativity and skill of craftspeople here in the USA struggling to make ends meet. I make MILLTONE steel tongue drums and because of the internet am able to sell them all around the world. Many countries governments charge 30% import tax in spite of which almost half my sales are still out of this country. I do not know many young people making material things in this country. Hopefully that will change. Many of the old school skills are not passed down as technology transforms manufacturing with things like 3D printing. I am happy to hear Mai Vu and Dimitri Koumbis, founders of Bishop Collective believe in American manufacturing and wish them all the best.

  10. Of course it was made in USA! made, crafted and given birth too! xxxxx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: