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Made in America: The Girls of a Certain Age list

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Buying American is just good juju all-around: You have the satisfaction of knowing your purchase was produced in a safe, clean factory by workers making a decent* wage, and you’re supporting businesses, many of them on the smaller side, that have chosen to keep production—and jobs—stateside, when shipping them overseas would cost a fraction of what they wind up paying here. This means that prices of American-made products can run a bit higher than what’s produced overseas. But in my experience, so does the quality. Here’s a special pre-Independence Day roundup of some of my favorite domestically-made brands (I say “some” because a few really good ones got left out, so there will almost surely be a Part II). Please do weigh in with any personal—and especially local— favorites in the comments.

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Billykirk Leather and canvas bags, accessories Billykirk specializes in rough-hewn, classic bags and clutches and totes, and even if you don’t think that’s your thing you may be surprised. It’s true that I love everything that contrasts black with blue, but I especially love how the two shades of blue mix with the black leather accents on this waxed satchel.

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Emerson Fry Apparel and accessories It is not overstating matters to say I want every single thing from this line out of New Hampshire, which is very American classic with a nice dose of urban edge thrown in to keep things interesting.

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Essie: Nail polish A friend recommended this deep red called Tomboy No More to me the other day and it’s totally going on my toes next pedi.

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Filson Luggage, outerwear, gear This outdoorsy brand is mostly aimed toward men, but they make fantastic-looking luggage that works for anyone. If I didn’t already own too many rolling carry-ons (have we ever discussed my rolling suitcase problem?) I would totally go for this elegant model.

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Gorjana Jewelry All manner of inexpensive (but not cheap-looking) adornments; a good place to check in when you want to buy something on-trend but don’t want to pay a fortune.

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J Brand Denim Definitely on the very short list of my favorite denim brands. I loathe when anyone swears that one jeans line or another has a “perfect fit”—bodies are so different—but these work on the skinny-assed and wide-of-hip alike.

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JW Hulme Bags The most classic shapes—messenger, tote, saddle—executed brilliantly, and in a variety of sizes and colors. The kind of bag you really will have forever.


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Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Makeup Vegan, cruelty-free, really rather fabulous and straight out of the Lower East Side.

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Quoddy: Footwear Ring boots like this insanely great brown suede pair—very coolest-girl-at-prep-school—handmade in Maine.

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Schoolhouse Electric Housewares When I describe this Portland-based outfit as utilitarian twee, I actually mean that as a positive. I’ve bought a couple of lamps from them that I love, and I came very close to snapping up some stools before (dejectedly) accepting that my my kitchen counter isn’t deep enough for any.

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Steven Alan Apparel The only button-down shirts that don’t make me feel shlumpy and unfeminine are Alan’s reverse seam models: they’re shrunken but not in any kind of horrible cropped way—just sort of like a very well-tailored blazer.

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Schott NYC Outerwear You want a straight-up classic  peacoat, you go to Schott. And you can get yourself a pretty damned iconic moto jacket from them while you’re at it too.

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Utility Canvas Canvas bags, quilts, throws Magazines give out a lot of tote bags at events, and by the time I got fired from Lucky, my entire family was totally Lucky-branded. I couldn’t have them all walking around to work and the beach and so forth advertising my former place of employ, so I went to Utility and bought a mess of new, unsullied bags for everyone. I’m an even bigger fan still of their bright and fun quilted blankets and throws.



*Although I hope we can all agree the minimum wage could use some work.


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Posted on June 30th, 2014 38 Comments

38 Responses

  1. Excellent list of choices (and I hope you do more than a part II)! I agree that made in USA items are often of higher quality, if you chose great brands whose goal is to make the best products. Thanks for helping to support American-made.

  2. Barbara says:

    Great list that I am bookmarking today! To consider: I love many of the Shinola watches. And the leather tech accessories are lovely, but I don’t own the i-stuff.

  3. caroline says:

    Well done!
    I totally agree with the sentiment!
    You have also highlighted a uniquely American and in my opinion great stylistic point of view!
    Take note well dressed French fashion editors!

  4. Maureen says:

    My suggestion would be tanner goods, based in Portland, OR, for leather goods.

  5. Stakra says:

    First off thanks for building this list. Many I know but I look forward to visiting the others. Here are a few that come to mind that you did not post. For apparel – San Francisco,, – For beauty – (NYC) and (NH).

  6. Stakra says:

    First off thanks for building this list. Many I know but I look forward to visiting the others. Here are a few that come to mind that you did not post. For apparel – San Francisco,, – For beauty – (NYC) and (NH). C

  7. Michele says:

    Love this!
    I’m in San Francisco, and I love some of our local places, including: – gorgeous dresses and blouses, as well as beautiful other things – Dema Grimm has been making gorgeous clothing out of her fantastic boutique for 15 years. I love this woman! – they’ve taken the middle-person out of buying t-shirts. – excellent basics

    I look forward to list part II!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Everlane makes great tees at reasonable prices, but they’re quite upfront about them being made in China.

  8. Meegan says:

    Damn fine list! And I’ll add Me&Ro Jewelry, made in NYC.

  9. Diane says:

    In the area of housewares, there is a terrific story in Heath Ceramics. Great product, great quality, great story.

  10. Jennifer says:

    Frye’s more classic boot styles are made in America. On their website you can click a tab called “Made in USA” to see what’s available. I honestly think their American-made boots are higher quality than the ones that aren’t from the USA.

    • Grenadine says:

      I love Frye styles but find them all unbearably uncomfortable. Any other made in USA boot ideas?

  11. Bill Jacobson says:

    Add”Shinola Watches” to your list, Kim. They are high-end, beautifully-made and beautiful wristwatches for men and women made in Detroit by American workers. Even the beautiful leather straps are made right here in Chicago. You can see them at

    I’m a watch collector, and can’t say enough about them.

    • KimFrance says:

      Unfortunately, Shinola watches is actually owned by the guy who started Fossil. He’s intentionally marketed it to appear artisanal & grassroots Detroit. It’s all rather cynical.

      • Barbara says:

        Interesting. Thanks for sharing. I hadn’t read that about Shinola – although did wonder where they got their really generous ad budget.

      • Katie in Chicago says:

        I read the story at the link and then the links in the link (NYT & Detroit Crain’s). What is the problem? Shinola IS made in America, the focus of this post, with parts sourced in Chicago, per Bill, and Wisconsin, per one of the other articles. Both still in America.

        People with marketing and management experience using them and not going the cheaper Asian route? Authentically more likely to be successful than your average start-up.

        • KimFrance says:

          They are more likely to be successful, because they have big corporate dollars behind them. No problem there. I was simply saying that the “story” behind the line is deceptive in a way that I don’t respect.

  12. Nicky says:

    I love this company.
    and they give a whoopie pie with every order!

  13. Grenadine says:

    This is a great list — I especially appreciate the links for the pea coat and moto jacket, as I had never heard of Schott and am in the market for both! Although it looks like they are sold out of the moto jacket in smaller sizes so will have to write them to see if they plan to restock. Great post thanks!

  14. Viajera says:

    Great post, Kim!!!!

    Ha. Well, I am not sure I should bring up American Apparel. But you know, there was a big baby in there with all the bath water. I kind of feel like the whole thing is sort of Shakespearian level tragedy. Or, maybe just a big … what’s the word I’m looking for? … not sketchy … sleazy? mess? There aren’t that many of us with that much good and that much bad at the same time. It’s a sort of accomplishment, no?

    Anyhoo, besides that it’s a **great post,** I have a request: man bags. What to do about man bags?

    I have a friend who needs one and I am not sure how to advise him. And if possible, it would be great to have suggestions for different areas — like some for NY guys, and some for a more suburbanish-styled LA area guy. You know, not too cutting edge. For instance, what do people think about messenger styles? I rather say no to the backpack. Unless it’s a really great one…

    • Viajera says:

      I forgot two things. First, I like that barcode-y graphic. All meaningful and ironic and what-not.

      Second, I’ve never heard of most of these companies, so that’s nice.

  15. I still have my Schott Perfecto moto jacket from 1989, which will probably outlive me. I think Rag & Bone makes the best blazers. Bailey44 and Rachel Palley jersey dresses are summer/resort favorites. My feet and knees love New Balance sneakers.

  16. Tucson Diva says:

    Thanks for focusing on locally- and US-made products! Yay!

    Tucson has some great things. I bought this bag for my recent adventures ( Worked well as a bag for the plane and the quality of the leather is incredible.

    Been looking at some of these tee shirts by a very cool group in Tucson that donates funds when you buy from them:

    Incredibly sexy and comfortable underwear from Boqari, made in Tucson:

    I could send lots of links for great jewelry as well. Please keep covering our entrepreneurs!!!

    • Viajera says:

      Love the boostering. I got a bunch of Zoner cousins. (Not from Tucson area though.) If I ever go through there, I’ll try to check out those innertube bracelets. Not bad at all.

  17. Nicole Freber says:

    Hooray! As someone who co-owns a business that manufactures product in America, I am so pleased to see your post. Thank you for highlighting quality products made in the U.S.

  18. Dallas says:

    Any suggestions for made in America pet products, particularly toys? I can’t find anything that’s not an import.

  19. michelleski says:

    Mmmm…as one who shares your blue/black fetish, that bag looks so perfect with its shiny leather trim that I almost want to lick it! 🙂

  20. Katie says:

    Very cool that you’ve put together this list, and I hope you make it a regular feature! I love Cut Loose from San Francisco (, especially for their tops that come in a variety of comfortable and flattering styles and fabrics. They have an outlet on Valencia Street in SF which is definitely worth a visit.

  21. Susan says:

    Why, why do you have to curate such amazing and beautiful things that I want to buy right now (but should not)? Everything (clothing or accessories wise) on this list I want to wear right now. And I was never a cool girl, or at prep school.
    That eye, Kim France.

  22. Jen Bekmab says:

    20×200’s art and our frames are manufactured right here in the US of A! (A select few of which you are very familiar ship directly the artiste’s studio in La France.)

  23. Suz says:

    Whoa – Get out of my brain! Seriously, I was just compiling a source list of US made goods after reading “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion.” Had been trying to simplify and get back to basics , quality goods made by well paid workers, etc etc. I remember the UGW logo in things even back in my teens – its not around much anymore.

    Excellent list. Please update this sporadically if at all possible.

    Oh, and everything here is great fashion too. I need that peacoat.

  24. Caitlin Thomas says:

    There is a tiny store on Thompson Street in SoHo NYC called Archerie that carries very pretty dresses, skirts and tops. They are made of pretty fabrics, and are flattering and ladylike but not at all frumpy. They make their clothes in NY which does not have much garment manufacturing anymore. If you want a break from skinny and tight, take a look!

    • Suz says:

      Thanks for the tip. They have great well made classics it seems – pretty much exactly what most stores don’t carry. Not badly priced for a fair wage quality material product.

    • Mamavalveeta03 says:

      I just found archerie when I clicked on Kim’s link for Utility Canvas: Made by one and the same! Cute, and they have a website

  25. Such an excellent list! I’m a big fan of the new totes from Campos Bags – they’re making everything in Brooklyn from 100% American-made materials, and they’re gorgeous. Just simple, classic workhorse bags. I’m loathe to be all “oh hey, check out my blog”, but I did just run a story on them this week. Great minds… 🙂

  26. Mamavalveeta03 says:

    I love this idea! Please keep adding to the list periodically, Kim. One of my goals with my wardrobe is to seek out and purchase more sustainable, made in the USA fashion.
    I’d add CP Shades great, easy pieces, Bed-Stu boots for comfort and quality at a reasonable price, and my favorite, slouchy American Colors by Alex Lehr shirts:
    *I agree with you 100% that we need to raise the minimum wage!