Monday, January 30, 2006

American-Made Blue Jeans

It’s hard to imagine a wardrobe without denim jeans. What started out as hard-working wear for men has evolved into a fashion basic for men, women, and children. The old-style dungaree (from the Hindi “dungri” meaning a coarse cloth) is still around, but increasingly the jeans market is dominated by stretch denim that dresses up or down.

Denim trivia: if you look closely at your jeans, you will see that the denim has a diagonal pattern in the weave. As every school kid knows, weaving takes a filling yarn over-under-over-under the warp yarns (the same technique applies to lattice pie crust!). For denim and other twill fabrics, however, the filling yarns go under and over two or more warp yarns. This creates an offset pattern from one row to the next. The addition of spandex fibers allows the denim to "give."

American jeans used to mean Levi, Wrangler, and Lee, to name a few. Today, Levi jeans are made overseas. Wrangler and Lee brands are owned by VF Corporation, which also owns Chic Jeans, Riders, and Rustler brands. VF Corp. has manufacturing plants located in the United States, as well as other parts of the world. So, while MAY be possible to find a pair of Wrangler or Lee jeans made in USA, it’s a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack. Likewise, jeans made for LLBean, Landsend, and the GAP are imported.

Luckily, there are a surprising number of American-made jean options available. For a definitive (almost) listing of jeans still made in USA, see Stephanie's Guide to American-Made Jeans. (I tried to include the tables here, but blogger doesn't seem to like them!) I have divided the brands into two categories: traditional “serious” jeans and up-scale luxury jeans. Admittedly, my groupings are somewhat arbitrary, but jeans that cost over $100 a pair (and some up to $200 a pair) cry out for special treatment!

There is a confusing array of these luxury jeans, featuring hand sanding, grinding, and “destroyed effects” (i.e., the price includes having someone wear them out for you!). I did not find much to distinguish among the high-end, couture jeans; all the brands I list appear to be made in USA from imported (primarily stretch) denim. One stand-out is Truck Jeans, a brand of fashion jeans made in USA from imported denim, offering blasted and “destroyed” effects for under $50. The label in my Truck Jeans says “Made with American hands in the USA.” How cool is that?!

Here's an interesting article on the booming luxury jeans market: Explosion of pricey premium-jeans market has created intense competition and, some say, a bloated inventory for retailers. By Jennifer Davies (San Diego Union Tribune, October 5, 2005)

One final note. I did not include USA Works jeans in the table because they are presently being imported. However, Sapko International, which makes USA WORKS, says they are on track to restart USA production (in Wisconsin) and hope to begin shipping domestic USA WORKS by late third or early fourth quarter 2006. I’ll update the table as soon as I get confirmation that American-made USA WORKS jeans are once again available. (I took down the Blog Poll on whether or not we should buy imported USA WORKS to show support for the company. The results were 50% in favor, 42% opposed, and 8% undecided. Since that time, the company has posted a note on their website with their commitment to restart US production as soon as possible--yeah!!)

As always, I welcome comments, additions, and corrections. Let me know what you think of Stephanie's Guide to American-Made Jeans.


Anonymous said...

Awesome! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Stephanie for the info. I have been looking for a while for Jeans made in the USA.

Anonymous said...

A small variety of American-made jeans are available at Made in uSA retailer

A wide variety in one store == one shipping fee.

Visit us at

Paul S

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your website and what you were trying to show. As you know most Jean companies including VF (Wrangler, Lee etc) Levis, True Religion (I think) CAHARTT (For sure) have gone to out of the country 100% now with Sewing, some claim to buy some fabric and do like VF in US example Liberty Denim in SC, I think they ship it to south America and Mexico, might want to confirm.

In the early 1980's I sold the Brand to a Lee Jeans Distributor who sold it to Fox Apparel

TexasJeans is 100% made in Asheboro NC using only US made Labels, Fabric and trim, our new online store will be up in 2 weeks, we have been a major supply for the US Army's new ACU Digital pattern replacement program plus we make Firefighter and school uniforms etc.

TexasJeansUSA is and will be the last of the "Brands" 100% USA (except for Pointer and small factories that are selling their brand direct.

Joe Clinard Jr
Brand Manager

Anonymous said...

Also, your readers might wish to consider Union Jean Company ( According to their company lit. they are a union garment manufacturer in Ohio. Although I don't know if the material is imported or not.



Anonymous said...

hi i work in ky at a carhartt plant. its shutting its doors in alittle over a month. it is going to mexxico. i hope this bites them where it counts.

Anonymous said...

To answer one of the previous questions...The Union Jean Company (now the All American Clothing Co.) does get their materials from the USA as well. Check us out, you may be suprised at the clothing you can still find Made in the USA!

BJ Nickol

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this website. Every American that cares about the safety and security of jobs in this country should only buy USA made products. What we buy and where we buy it from matters!

Anna said...

Lucky Brand jeans and True Religion jeans are made in the USA!

Anonymous said...

They also charge 100 to 300 bucks for something Texas Jeans quailty and fit and a 35 year old American Brand.

TexasJeans are on of the best Jeans I have ever owned. I am not sure but I think they have their own large factory in NC and do not use Sweat Shops in LA like PERHAPS...True Religion does...hows that

Anonymous said...

I was glad to find this info, I am trying hard to buy only American products now. Here is another US assembled jeans (and other items),
It's kinda a regional thing here in Oregon, ALL the loggers wear these things. I don't if they exactly count as made in the USA since they kinda made by slave labour in prison? But it does good things anyways, teaching inmates skills and all.

Unknown said...

texas jeans are very good quality ..thanks for this article..these jeans are one of the best jeans..

Cash Online Get Easy cash at your door step

Anonymous said...

After Levi's left i only buy whatever fits at the local goodwill store. you can get a decent pair of jeans for 5-10$.

I'm not going to give money to those traitor manufactures that leave the US.

Would like to try out TexasJeans but haven't seen any stores that carry them.

Aaron Wong said...

I try to buy American made whenever possible, even tho my wife thinks I take it a little too far. If more Americans bought only American made products, this country wouldn't be in the shape its in. With access to the internet, Americans really have no excuse for not researching what they spend their hard earned money on, and not what WalMart has available. I am currently looking for Carpenter pants made in the good ol' USA, and thought I'd give you my 2 cents. I have bought several pair of Texas brand Carpenter pants, and my main concern is that every pair has ripped the bottom out of my jeans. I carry tools in my back pocket alot at work, and the butt of my Texas jeans has ripped at the top of the back pocket. Every pair has done this, and I am looking to try a different kind. I bought 2 pair of Roundhouse brand carpenter pants, and they have held up much better, but are a little harder to find. Hope this helps you out.