I love my “clean” union-made, USA-made blue jeans

Did you see the recent episode of Independent Lens entitled “China Blue” on PBS? It is the undercover story of real Chinese garment workers who make blue jeans for the American and other markets. The workers make pennies to make our clothing while their bosses, the distributors and the marketers grow rich. Paid $100 for designer jeans? Chances are that all the line workers combined made less than a dollar. And the sorry state is that nearly all clothing bought in the US today has a similar backstory.

But there are alternatives: union-made clothing from the United States and other countries where workers have the right to organize. Better yet, workers can own their business and share in the decisions and profits. Some of these union goods are expensive — but cost is no guarantee that the workers are well-treated: some sweatshop goods are quite costly. And some union and worker-cooperative goods are quite reasonable.

Over the next few months I’ll feature these as I replace parts of my well-warn wardrobe.

Right now, I’m wearing my US-made Union Line jeans. I wrote about them about a year ago and I love them. The khakis which I gave grudging approval then are now my favorites in part because the cloth is so robust. They support a perma-crease that makes them look fresher longer, and thus need washing less often (which in turn makes them last longer.) A pair of old Dockers feel like a diaper by contrast.

Union House still has the jeans, but so does Union Jean Company, No Sweat, Justice Clothing, and The Union Shop, so you can comparison shop or buy from the store that has other things you want.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. There are lots more American-made clothes and other products on a terrific site–www.shopforamerica.com. Check it out.

  2. Shopforamerica.com has Joel Bradley and Anne Bradley as co-founders; it is also a business as best as I can tell. I’ll leave the reference because the links are helpful. But I’m working on an commercial interested parties comment policy.

    Through it I gave ZebulonUSA.com (a USA-made goods retailer) another look and they have men’s twill walking shorts, which have been very hard to find and which I need very badly. Also, I asked ZebulonUSA if they sell goods made in the Northern Marianas Island (Saipan) which can be labelled “Made in the USA” but is a hotbed of Chinese-run sweatshops. The president/founder wrote back that they don’t. Good. I’m placing an order tonight.

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