Sunday, August 5, 2012

If you want made in America you have found the place in this place. Years ago quite simply where there is a sheep there is wool the raw material for warm clothing. There is an old mill in Pennsylvania that is still turning out wool just as it has been doing for the past two centuries. It is the Woolrich Company that has survived every economic disaster in this country and is still in business since it started in 1830. To let you know how old that is, Andrew Jackson was still President and slavery divided the country. Even the Oregon Trail was the main route west.
This company is so old that you can even track our country's roots through the type of clothing that was being made during an era. Lately the wool clothing company looks for new inspiration by looking through the old styles that were popular years ago. Now they are reviving the wool vests called work vests that the railroad conductors and ticket takers wore when there were only 28 states in the United States.

There is even the wool lined hooded parkers for explorers. These were worn during the 1930’s by the Byrd Antarctic Expedition in 1939,1940 and in 1941. Some of their products date back to major wars. They manufacture wool blankets that were given to the soldiers during the Civil War. The blankets were given out to the soldiers and their basic survival could have been attributed to the heat that the blankets gave them.

Right now they are producing bright red fabric to be used for our current military. It will be used for the rank insignia on the Marine Corp dress uniform. So, even with the United States wool flags they are producing, you probably couldn’t get more Made in America than this. They have employees that have worked there for 43 years. There have been lay offs and some job have also been shipped overseas.

The company once employed over 2,600 workers that now employ less than 500 today and the few 500 are just happy to have a job; they don’t feel special. Things are different now. There is not the effort being placed by all to get us out of a slump. If you get laid off from a job these days you are simply let go and no one cares what you do to survive.

Back then during the great depression when work dried up the company turned it’s Woolrich workers into wood workers keeping them busy building homes. It was a company town taking care of it’s company employees. It is truly a family business that dates back to great grandparents that have run the factory. There are two cousins there now that plan to carry on their families tradition running this empire of wool.
They plan to take their heritage and find new ways to bring it forward. They are now looking backwards to move forwards with fashion. They are branding the Woolrich name and having boutique shops and fashion runway shows. Getting trendy is the goal of the 2 new guys growing up in the family business hoping to take the company to new heights.

One of their hottest items now is an update of an Arctic Parker created in 1972 for workers on the Alaska Pipeline. The difference now is that it is selling for $695 that once was a much cheaper version to be used as work uniforms. Is this the way old American manufacturers have to go to make a profit? Is creating a market to the very rich and putting a designer attitude to the clothes going to create interest? Remember, these were the same styles and fabrics that created comfort to the masses in the past. A staple fabric to the American ordinary worker and brave suffering soldier.

We need to keep our companies in business somehow in this country. Yes , the greedy business owners need to find the cheapest way to manufacture items and that is always in the direction to China, and Maylaysia and the Philippines for the cheapest labor. Having children or adults working 32 hour shifts for one dollar a day is not the answer either. Human life should not be exploited anywhere in the world. We need a better answer for all humanity.

1 comment:

  1. This blog about American companies is still popular.