Most gloves are imported, for the reasons we explored last week.
But there is growing interest in buying American made gloves, just as there is more interest in buying everything manufactured domestically. It explains why Wal-Mart had an open call for "Made in USA" products recently, and over 500 new vendors showed up.
Still, the challenges related to domestic manufacturing of technical sports gloves and reshoring in general, are considerable.
What are the options, and the labeling requirements, for imported vs. domestic apparel? What are the options for sourcing American made gloves?
Here's what brands and retailers should know.
"Made in USA" Apparel: Labeling
Like "greenwashing", some companies will try to create the impression that their product is "Made in USA", when the facts on the ground are a bit different.
Take a look at this industry advisory from a leading apparal industry consulting firm, highlighting the labeling issues:
" ...Apparel companies are beginning to receive letters that raise the specter of significant potential liability for damages under California’s “Made in USA” false advertising law. The letters threaten to bring class action lawsuits against these companies for labeling their clothing as having been made in the U.S. even though they contain foreign-made parts".
What does this mean, in plain English?
Simply stated: You can't label goods as "Made in USA" if the component parts have been made or substantially made outside of the US.
Even labels specifically designed to be more accurate ... such as “made in USA of imported materials” ... may not pass muster, as enforcement gets stricter.
And there's the rub: Glove components come from all over the world.
Are American Made Gloves an Option?
Of course! There certainly are glove companies who make gloves here of domestically sourced materials. It boils down to complexity and margin:
If you look, here's what you'll find for "Made in USA" gloves:
- Simple pattern, high volume industrial or work gloves which are simple to cut and sew -- basically just two seams, domestic fabric, very cheap to make -- easily manufactured here.
- Specialty leather gloves like deerskin, elk, or buffalo gloves -- or even goatskin and cowhide -- where the leather is USA produced and tanned, and there are not a lot of other components -- often made here.
- Fabric or knit gloves -- especially when the materials can be cost-effectively sourced here and retail demand allows for a higher price.
- Specialty gloves with lots of components and the need for a specially trained workforce and equipment, that have recently moved manufacturing back here from Asia.
For example, Gerbings -- a leading manufacturer of heater gloves and other heated apparel -- invested in a new, state of the art plant in North Carolina ... and we salute them!
If you are looking to source gloves in the USA, these are the most common options.
Simple gloves are doable. Competitive pricing is still a challenge ... but if you have your own retail outlets, or a higher margin to work with, higher price may not be as much of a barrier. And competitively priced, highly labor-intensive, complex technical glove -- ie, gloves designed for use in the tactical, outdoor, or sports glove categories -- becomes a much greater challenge.
Outlook for Reshoring Gloves
Forward thinking glove companies -- ours included -- are working on new ways to meet market demand for American made gloves.
While California’s requirements are a bit more stringent than federal standards, reshoring technical gloves -- meeting all mandated labeling requirements -- is still a challenge.
How is your company facing this issue?
Looking for a Glove Company?There are many glove manufacturers here and abroad, but very few glove specialists who have been making gloves and only gloves, for as long as we have.
For help with your privately branded glove project, get in touch. And for information about sourcing gloves in general, download our free guide.