American Style – The best of “Made in the USA”
Originally published 1/24/11
At 10 years old I attended a Fourth of July parade and I can still clearly remember a particular street vendor. He was selling, among other things, these little plastic American flags. They weren’t the small scratchy cloth flags stapled to wood dowels which the Boy Scouts handed out at the start of the parade. Instead, these were all plastic. The flag itself was a razor thin piece of cellophane , and clearly printed next to the white plastic pole along the edge of Old Glory were the words: “Made in China.”
Even then I knew there was something goofy about that.
It’s pretty easy for a manufacturer to go outside the borders and off shore. That makes it difficult to find good looking American made style. When you do stumble across the Made in the USA label, more often than not it’s something created with only functionality in mind, with little attention paid to the aesthetics of the product. But good looking, home grown, sewn, and produced stuff is absolutely still out there. Here’s some of the best…
The Dress Shoes & Boot: Allen Edmonds Van Ness – $199 ($285) | Bayfield – $299 ($350)
Made in Wisconsin by the legendary American Shoe Company Allen Edmonds, both of these should last a few decades if not a liftetime. The Van Ness is part of the Executive Collection which has a 270 welt instead of 360. Meaning, it’ll be a little sleeker and less clunky. On sale for under $200. The Bayfield looks incredible. Wear it everywhere.
The Winter Coat: Schott Classic 32oz Melton Wool Peacoat – $198.00
Schott made the first leather motorcycle jacket. They’ve also made outerwear for the military, and their classic wool peacoat would fit in on the deck of just about any ship. More of a classic fit, and if you’re looking for something a bit trimmer you’ll have to go with the Canadian Produced slim fit model.
The Hugo Boss Pasolini Suit is pretty close to legendary. With its well proportioned lapels, a clean silhouette, and a price tag that can dip down to the low $500’s if you catch a sale, it’s the total package for a made in the US Suit. The Jam/Sharp appears to be an update with a little more texture thanks to the cloth and pickstitching. But a warning about that one, some are made in the US, while others are imported.
The Classic Briefcase: Filson Original Briefcase – $210.00
Filson’s original briefcase has gone through a well deserved renaissance as of late. So much so that they’re hard to come by. The brown version is back-ordered clear into April, but go with an otter green or the tan and you’ll get it by mid February. Go with the tan.
The Guaranteed for 100 years Briefcase: Saddleback Slim Briefcase* – $411.00
It might look slim in width, but these suckers weigh over 4lbs, WITHOUT GEAR. Good God. No wonder they’re guaranteed for a century. I don’t know if they’ve tried, but something tells me that a Saddleback case, even one of their slim briefcases, could at the very least slow down a 9mm bullet. Expensive. But it’ll be the last case you ever buy.
*UPDATE: Sounds like Saddleback leather cases might not actually be made in the USA, but instead are made in Mexico of leather from “American Cows Born and Raised.” See Oswald’s comment below.
Classic Cufflinks: Brooks Brothers “Snapper” Cufflinks – $165.00
Styled after the way cufflinks were constructed back in the 20s. They snap closed instead of a bar swinging and sliding through. Silver plated, expensive, but a nice asset for your most dressed up events.
The Ride: Harley Davidson Night Rod Special – $14,699
For The Collar: Club Room Brass Collar Stays 18pk – $15.99 (reg. $18)
Not plastic like the one’s that come with your shirts, but a more durable stay that’ll keep your collar from curling or flying off. You get a ridiculous 18 stays in various sizes.
The T-Shirt: American Apparel Fine Jersey Tee – $17.00
For all the weirdness that surrounds their CEO, American Apparel still makes one hell of a t-shirt. Slim in fit and width of fabric, but still plenty strong. These are not those thick and heavy sweat sponges you wore in 1993. They even make a 50/50 blend option for those that like their tees with a little poly (we are out there.)
The Waterproof Boots: L.L. Bean Bison Leather Boots – $104.00
Not insulated so they run big on purpose with the intention of the owner socking up in cold weather. Extremely reasonable at just over $100. Made in Maine from waterproof Bison leather. Doesn’t get much more American than that.
The Field Watch: Bertucci A-2T Titanium Watch – $99 – $154.00
The Woolrich Site (which has one model on sale for $99) claims these are assembled in the US. That’s not exactally “made” in the USA, but… when it comes to watches? That’s close enough. A bit larger than your standard sub 40mm field watch so for those with smaller wrists, know that it could overwhelm quickly.
The Simple Duffel: Frost River Flight Bag – $120 – $140
Canvas sides with leather reinforced corners. A shoulder strap, two top grab handles… what else could you want? A surprisingly low price for a bag made in the states. Made near the head waters of Lake Superior in Duluth MN.
The Ties: Brooks Brothers Guard Stripe Wool Knit – $37.50 ($75) | Slim Dot Tie – $79.50
Knit ties are back and although their popularity will fade with the masses, they’re still pretty timeless and will go well with everything. Wool suit, summer cotton suit, jeans… they can do it all. The slim silk tie is English silk and made in the US. A can’t miss pattern and just under 3″ wide
For Cocktail Hour: North Shore Gin No. 11
If you’re a gin fan that appreciates a gin that has juniper front and center, give this stuff a serious shot. Drink it neat, or in an extremely dry martini. Starts easy, gets dry, tastes amazing. Made from a very small, boutique distillery in Chicago.
Of course we have to wrap it up with our new favorite denim maker. The brand is committed to making his clothing in the US, they look and feel fantastic, and Todd was all about doing a giveaway. Just under $100 for one pair of jeans isn’t cheap, but if you have a few bucks to your name then they’re an investment worth making.
What’d we miss? Leave your favorite Made in the USA picks in the comments section below.