Is "Made in America" evolving from words on a label to an actual community?

Posted by LDonia on 11/08/2012

Oftentimes, discussion of American-made products focuses on iconic brands and items: Harley Davidson, Louisville Slugger, Levi’s Jeans. However, new, in some cases younger, American-made enthusiasts seem to be more interested in smaller-scale manufacturers.

In fact, “Made in America” is shifting from being simply a coveted label to something that more resembles a community. Writing for CNN, Emanuella Grinberg takes a look at the pop-up markets going on across the United States, where American brands are showcasing their products for consumers who want the Made in the U.S.A. label.

Grinberg interviewed two such consumers, Lauren Kennedy and Tomo Adachi, who mentioned that a major part of the appeal in shopping for American-made products at such events is meeting the craftspeople who make them.

It seems an anonymous label may have less appeal to the new generation of Made in the U.S.A. consumers. It may not be enough to know that such purchases allow the manufacturer to stay in business.  Consumers now want to know who that person is and what the philosophies are behind his or her brand.

Katherine McMillan, who works at a men’s accessory company (Pierrepont Hicks) and co-founded the pop-up market (called Northern Grade) that Kennedy and Adachi attended, told CNN:

I would not feel comfortable producing this market if I didn't believe in all of the brands we invite to take part...We all have similar philosophies and ethics about our products. If someone's products don't turn out to meet (our standards), we don't invite them back.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) found in a recent national poll of voters that a majority believe products made in the United States are superior to those made abroad. Pop-up markets like these afford consumers the opportunity to access quality products for which they may otherwise be unaware.

Read more about pop-up markets and the changing face of Made in America here.

Image from Northern Grade website.

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