Due to cheaper labor overseas, "Made in America" has been a fading label for decades. The dangers posed by offshore manufacturing came to tragic light this month after more than 1,000 workers died during a disastrous factory collapse in Bangladesh.
PHOTO GALLERY: Click Here for 9 Startups Bringing Apparel Back to the U.S.
Sadly, only a handful of big companies—including PVH, the parent company of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Swedish retailer H&M—have signed a binding agreement to adopt stricter offshore safety standards. Now, the future of American-made retail rests in the plucky hands of a few startups, which are attempting to reverse the trend by manufacturing homemade goods.
These entrepreneurs are part of a growing movement: domestic apparel manufacturing grew 11.1 percent in 2011, according to last fall’s report from the American Apparel & Footwear Association. Of course, there’s still a long way to go: More than 97 percent of clothing is imported due to lack of infrastructure, dwindling seamstresses, and higher labor costs. According to a report by the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, a nonprofit international human rights organization, Bangladesh has the lowest labor pay rate at 21 cents an hour.