Thursday, September 27, 2007

Handmade in the USA

The NYT published an article, "Reborn in the U.S.A.," in yesterday's paper about the luxury denim industry currently thriving in Los Angeles. It reports that an estimated 100 companies making premium denim are based there, but the more interesting story is how a handful of these companies are producing the jeans right there in L.A. versus overseas.

Hm…sounds a lot like the article I wrote for this summer's Textile View magazine: "Handmade in the U.S.A."!

My article makes note of the Undesigned bamboo-fiber jeans made in the Los Feliz area of L.A., but I focus more on the efforts of smaller, upstart artisans—luxury T-shirts from Turk + Taylor and Quentin and Claude (that's their awesome batik T-shirt in the image above) and Kim White Handbags—as well as the Ground Zero of the anti-sweatshop movement, American Apparel.

I loved how Quentin and Claude (Olaf Derlig and Moises Chavez) batik and silkscreen each T-shirt by hand in their Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles, and talked at length about the "soulful spirit" (!) the process gives each garment. The guys at Turk + Taylor use only organic fabrics and told me: "There's something really magical about that whole hands-on process." How great is that?

My hope is that all these DIY artists are the pioneers of a second wave of made-in-the-U.S.A. manufacturing. With all the money circulating on this Coast, shouldn't the wealthy support artists making the real thing by hand at home, rather than shelling out for mass-produced, overpriced lookalikes made overseas?

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