“Made in China” is peppered across products in the United States, but the “Made Here” movement has been gathering momentum and crowdfunding is helping to drive it. For years, international factories dominated the production of soft goods thanks to an ample supply of cheap labor. But clothing companies such as Sword and Plough and Ministry of Supply are answering the call for U.S.-made products and using crowdfunding as their megaphone.
Throughout the 1990s, many corporations outsourced production to cut costs. Still, the tide may be turning. Steve Maurer, AlixPartners managing director, stated in a recent CNBC article that, “if you go back to 2005, it was pretty common for landed cost from China to be 25 to 30 percent less than the cost of manufacturing in the United States. Based on our analysis, two-thirds of that gap has closed.” With the gap diminishing, startups such as Sword and Plough, with the help of crowdfunding, are using this opportunity to promote their goods.
Sword and Plough is a clothing company started by two Middlebury College students that repurposes military surplus items and combines them with durable accent fabrics to produce stylish bags. Better yet, the brand has partnered with Green Vets, a Los Angeles based non-profit, to make sure that all production is powered by veterans. With the help of crowdfunding, Sword and Plough was able to raise over $300,000 to transform this concept into a reality. Their aim is, “recycling and repurposing military gear with a fashionable touch, and working with veterans, we create sturdy and sophisticated products, whose sale will empower veteran employment, reduce waste and strengthen civil-military understanding. In this way, our bags are rugged, refined and relevant.” The growth of American-based clothing companies not only limits the use of sweatshops, but also creates jobs within the United States.
Sword and Plough is certainly not the first clothing company to utilize the crowd. Ministry of Supply recently raised over $400,000 with their intention of “inspir[ing] confidence in every man by creating next-generation performance professional attire.” Companies such as Sword and Plough and Ministry of Supply are creating relevant products geared to benefit the American clothing industry. Crowdfunding has proven an effective way for these brands to tell their story and launch their idea.