As people rush back to stores to return their Christmas gifts, they may notice that almost none of that new clothing was made in this country.
On Sunday, several prominent international retailers and labor groups came together to create a $40 million fund for victims of the garment factory collapse in Bangladesh.
More than one thousand workers died in the accident, marked as the deadliest disaster in garment industry history.
Prominent American fashion designer, Nanette Lepore, keeps the manufacture of items in her high-end clothing line within a few blocks of her company headquarters in New York City.
She joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to discuss her commitment to making clothes locally.
On starting small and keeping resources nearby
“Because I was small and I had to do everything myself, it made me able to start a business. So having the factories local and being able to hand carry the work over, or get my own push cart and push it down the streets of 7th Avenue – which I have done – that is what made me able to create my own brand and my own business. I mean, that’s what the American dream is made of.”
On appreciating local craftsmanship
“I wish that we could learn to understand and respect the idea of craftsmanship again here.And the idea of being proud of something that you build and make with your hands. And it’s a different sense of satisfaction when you have that accomplishment of actually building something, seeing something, sewing something. I feel like there needs to be a respect for that type of industry again in this country. If you have your manufacturing, you have a better edge on innovation.”
On growing up with skilled laborers
“I grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, and my one grandfather was a bricklayer, and the other was a carpenter. So it was a town of immigrants that came over with a skill. And I grew up – if we needed a house, we built it; if we needed furniture, my grandfather made it.”
“It’s a wonderful way to feel so empowered. All those things work into my psyche and my sense of being proud of the work we do, and proud of the skilled labors we have here.”