Ibex to source, fabricate and sew wool garments completely within the USA
It’s a notion that is rampant on the internet. Blogs and forums are packed with scribes bemoaning that nothing is made in the USA anymore (a meme almost as popular as the contradictory notion that things should be cheaper!)
Years ago the focus was on Nike and their offshore production of footwear. In recent weeks a similar spotlight has illuminated the Chinese factories that make Apple’s electronic gizmos.
Ibex, a maker of performance wool clothing, cite a related statistic:
“... 98-percent of all apparel sold in the United States is made outside of our borders”
But after much soul searching and diligent research, Ibex announced, late last year, that for their Fall 2012 collection they’ll be offering part of their line completely produced in the USA. From sheep to shop.
A huge fan of merino wool, which is mostly sourced from New Zealand, Australia and South America, Ibex will be switching their Shak Lite collection to wool from the Rambouillet sheep grazed by the Lehfeldt family of Lavina, Montana. The Rambouillet are already green sheep in that they are employed in a weed reduction plan for American grasslands.
After shearing the Rambouillet's 21 micron ultra-fine wool leaves Montana for South Carolina, to be combed and scoured, before moving up to North Carolina to become yarn and knitted fabric. Then it’s off to California for the final cutting and sewing into finished garments. (A few energy miles there, highlighting that even 'Made in USA' is not without its foibles.)
On their blog Ibex observe that although they don’t own any of the Californian factories, they “represent about 90-percent of their business. Each of the factories employs 30-50 people.”
And even before the new Shak Lite line achieves its made wholly in the USA status next autumn, it may impress readers to know that 74% of all Ibex apparel is already American made (not including the source fabric). Impressive. The remainder, their softshells, seamless pieces and organic cottons are made in Canada and Asia.
Although this new venture by Ibex is unlikely to make much a dent in that figure of 98% imported garments, it is a brave and noteworthy endeavour to return a complete supply chain of fibre source through apparel production to tAmerican shores. Worthy of your support. Unless you live in Australia, New Zealand or the United Kingdom. or other X’s on the map, with their own vertically integrated, home-grown, wool garment production stories.