Why I’ll proudly wear a garment made in China.
This story starts a while ago. Way back, I got a lovely note from Brass Clothing, asking me if I wanted to partner up. I hadn’t heard about them before, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure it was the right fit at first. Don’t get me wrong—their clothing was beautiful and their philosophy was right up my alley, but the timing wasn’t quite right, I was on vacation being as casual as can be—and I wasn’t focused on bringing new items into my wardrobe that I might not need.
Fast-forward a month or two, and something sparked in my brain. I thought about Brass again. I had been struggling for a little while to find high-quality clothes that were more work-appropriate. Don’t get me wrong, I have and will wear t-shirts and jeans to work, but I needed shirts that could pull their weight in a formal and casual setting. Fall was approaching, and I knew that every year I lived in black—which was fine, but every once in a while I wished I had a lighter neutral to break up the winter darkness. It was time to round out my winter wardrobe with intention.
I started reading about their manufacturing. Started getting into their fabrics, and why they started. Saw it was women-owned. Really vibed with their calming, simple outlook on life and clothes.
Long story short, I reached out and said, “let’s do this!” and thankfully they were just as excited to get started. So get ready! Here are all the reasons I slowly fell more in love with Brass Clothing.
Things to know about Brass
- Their mission: make chic easy, creating a system of versatile clothes that can eliminate the need for constant seasonal shopping.
- When it began: 3.5 years ago with two women, Jay Adams and Katie Demo
- Why it began: Jay and Katie were done with disposable fashion, and the constant dissatisfaction (and impracticality) of following trends.
- Their goal: Create simple, chic foundations that become long-time staples in your wardrobe, without the designer price tag.
- Their promise: beautiful garments, quality you can feel, versatility through the seasons, absolute ease, and utility – making every garment have purpose.
Things to know about their manufacturing
- They work with 2 factories in Hangzhou, China
- The skilled garment makers in these factories have 20 years of expertise in their field and stand for both quality work and quality of life
- Jay and Katie, as well as the Brass team, visit and vet these factories multiple times a year
- Read about their experiences in China here!
The myths of producing in China
If I could count the number of times someone told me they didn’t support anything made in China, I’d be rich. As the world got into mass production, North America started consuming monstrous amounts of affordable products imported from China. China became synonymous with poor workmanship and the idea that a nation wanted to economically dominate the global market—even if not everything made in China was cheap, that’s certainly the impression we developed over the years.
So, China and North American consumption have a turbulent relationship. When I first started shopping for consciously made clothes, I would glow in happiness to see a “made in Canada” or “made in USA” label. Then one day, I looked at the tag of an ethical garment that said: “made in China.” Instantly I thought, how could a company that prides itself on quality and consciously made garments manufacture in China? Isn’t Chinese manufacturing bad? Well friends, we all know that there’s truth behind every statement. But ultimately, no—manufacturing in China is not all “bad.”
The thing to know about Chinese economy is that it’s wildly different depending on the region. There are rural communities without access to schoolbooks, and there are billionaires in Beijing. It’s not all the blanketed economic megalith we imagine it to be. China is just as varied in their socio-economic diversity as we are.
So, why produce in China anyway?
It used to be because it was more affordable. But today, even manufacturing in China is rising in price, not only because of improved ethics, but because of demand. Companies like Brass and Tradlands manufacture in China because of the incredible skill of garment makers who have been part of the industry for decades. Simply: you can’t find access to garment experts on such a large scale in North America at this point in our history.
Our garment industry has been hurt by fast fashion. Canada in particular is still reeling from the effects of mass production, with nearly all our textile and garment-making factories gone.
While we build smaller businesses that can reinvigorate the North American garment industry, it’s also important to support the generational knowledge and high-quality craftsmanship that reputable Chinese factories have developed over the years—and their ability to produce beautiful garments in high quantities.
I’ve made myself challenge my preconceptions and judgments of Chinese manufacturing. Why should I praise something made in France or Kenya, over something made in China? What makes it any less worth our support for the skilled work of dedicated people? What makes their work mean less?
Working with Brass has done more than just add a few new tops to my wardrobe. Choosing to say yes to a company that is so open, honest and transparent about their manufacturing has helped me discover that there is so much more behind a garment than just where it is made.
While my pieces of Brass Clothing were gifted, all love and opinions and honesty is my own! <3