How It’s Possible To Be A Made In Los Angeles Kids Apparel Brand Today & Why Made In The USA Matters

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We've developed a deep respect for the local fashion ecosystem

For many fashion brands in the USA, the general trajectory after deciding to develop a clothing business, is to look into manufacturers in Asia. It’s often the way the education system is training new designers, and it’s consistently the way industry is pushing brands to manufacture clothes – *overseas*.

However, as a Los Angeles-based kids brand who has always manufactured in L.A., we have realized over the years how incredibly robust the local garment-making ecosystem is and how truly possible it is to build a kids cotton clothing brand in L.A. 

When we decided to start making clothes in Los Angeles in 2001, it was because the garment district was nearby, convenient and seemed easier to access than navigating apparel manufacturers overseas. But over the years, we’ve also developed a deep respect for the local fashion ecosystem because so many folks we work to build our brand with have become a part of our community. 

We want to remind brands that it is possible to manufacture clothing in the USA and that – if we don’t invest in this nearby apparel ecosystem, it will eventually cease to exist.  

The best cotton boys polo shirt and t-shirt manufactured in LA by City Threads image
Womens T-Shirt and Cotton Shorts manufactured in LA by City Threads image

Here’s why making kids clothes in the USA can be the best business decision, but also a rewarding experience for your brand –

Manufacturing clothing locally in the USA can help reduce business costs for your brand.
When you remove the need to constantly ship products back and forth overseas, it can reduce a lot of upfront costs. Also, as a younger brand, the minimums are far more accessible in Los Angeles than with apparel manufacturers overseas. Since you can access all components for apparel in the L.A. garment district, it can reduce additional costs for sourcing. For example, you can find fabric by the roll in Los Angeles, which again, reduces costs.From a big picture perspective, making apparel in the USA benefits the local economy and local infrastructure.

You can make kids clothing samples faster and make changes efficiently. When it comes to most industries today, there is always the question of time and how quickly something can be achieved. If you decide to develop garments in L.A., it allows you to do it much faster for your brand than overseas. For example, if you want to make a polo shirt, you can find the fabric and buttons locally – then, you can find a pattern maker and sample maker locally to make it for you. If there’s something you don’t like about it, you can tell them in person and they can adjust the garment that day. You can make apparel faster. You change something and then can make it tomorrow locally in the USA.

Your brand can have more intimate relationships with your apparel suppliers. If you decide to manufacture apparel overseas, it’s an entirely different business model than a made in the USA clothing brand. Making locally in L.A. gives you the chance to connect more directly with the folks in your apparel supply chain, to understand their working conditions, and to build meaningful relationships with them. Also, it allows you to have direct contact and be more hands-on throughout every step of making your garments. As our cofounder Joe says, “We’ve been through recessions together. When you’re a part of a community, you find ways to help each other out to get through it.”

The clothing ecosystem exists in Los Angeles, California, USA & we need to support it. There is a robust ecosystem of clothing manufacturers, dyers, cutters, samplemakers, patternmakers, as well as shops that offer trims and notions in Los Angeles, USA. And if apparel brands don’t continue to invest in and partner with this ecosystem, the possibility to build a made in USA clothing brand will eventually go away. 

Children wearing Organic matching PJ's manufactured in LA by City Threads image

Over the years, our kids apparel brand has blossomed from offering children’s tees and sweatshirts to now including a range of styles – including organic, baby, kids and adults clothes.

Through our experience building a made in USA brand focused on comfortable kids cotton clothing, we’re a direct example of how it’s possible to knit, dye, cut and sew garments in Los Angeles, USA, and find a way to build a successful business while supporting the local American garment industry.

We want to encourage other brands to explore the possibility of made in the USA clothing products. We regularly ask ourselves – who is going to take over these apparel shops in the next generation? We need to continue investing in local American clothing manufacturing to ensure this unique apparel ecosystem can continue to flourish in years to come. 

Written by: City Threads Cofounders Shayna Samuels & Joe Willis, and Kestrel Jenkins, responsibility consultant & host of the Conscious Chatter podcast.