Virtually none would have been a shorter answer


Over the last nine months, I have discovered loads of great American firms that make great products in America that we can all purchase to support jobs for members of our extended American family.  Just look at the long list of these firms that appear on the right side of my blog.  In an effort to discover if Columbia Sportswear produced coats or other things in this country that I could recommend to you during this upcoming holiday shopping season, on Tuesday I sent them the following question which seemed fairly straightforward: Which of your products are manufactured in the United States?

Yesterday I got a reply from Kristen at Columbia Sportswear.  Her reply is set forth below.

Hello John,

Thank you for sharing your concerns about the countries in which Columbia Sportswear products are manufactured. We understand that for some consumers, in addition to fit, performance, style and value, other personal factors also affect their buying decisions.

As one of the largest outerwear, sportswear and footwear companies in the world, Columbia Sportswear is part of a global industry that has evolved dramatically over the past 30 years. Part of that evolution has included developing mutually-beneficial relationships with manufacturing partners in over 15 countries, where virtually all of Columbia Sportswear’s products are produced today. These countries have become vital, peaceful trading partners and suppliers of high-quality products for most leading footwear and apparel brands.

We are proud of the innovative materials, technologies and construction techniques that we have pioneered with our global manufacturing partners. These relationships make it possible for us to provide consumers in over 100 countries with outstanding performance benefits at competitive prices, to create rewarding career opportunities across our global organization, and to generate value for Columbia Sportswear’s shareholders.

We hope you’ll continue to seek out Columbia products to keep you warm, dry and comfortable during all your favorite activities in the Greater Outdoors.

Kristen, Customer Care, Columbia Sportswear

Embedded in this response is the information I had asked for; Columbia Sportswear’s “manufacturing partners” outside the U.S. manufacture “virtually all of Columbia Sportswear’s products…“.  Equally interesting though is the rest of the response.  In it, Columbia Sportswear succinctly describes the fate of apparel manufacturing in this country over the last thirty years.

“As one of the largest outerwear, sportswear and footwear companies in the world, Columbia Sportswear is part of a global industry that has evolved dramatically over the past 30 years.”  Columbia Sportswear is right.  Over the last thirty years in this country, imports of apparel went from meeting 30 percent of domestic demand to meeting 95% of domestic demand.  Domestic apparel firms broke up their commodity chains, locating production facilities in low wage countries while retaining the design, marketing and retail components in this country.

“We are proud of the innovative materials, technologies and construction techniques that we have pioneered with our global manufacturing partners. These relationships make it possible for us to provide consumers in over 100 countries with outstanding performance benefits at competitive prices, to create rewarding career opportunities across our global organization, and to generate value for Columbia Sportswear’s shareholders.”  Domestic apparel firms went overseas, first to Hong Kong and then later to China and Vietnam, and found manufacturing subcontractors to manufacture their clothes.  As a result three things happened.  First, U.S. apparel employment declined.  Second, people in Asia and other parts of the world began to make the clothes we wear each day.  Third, apparel firms could realize a higher markup since the cost of producing those goods overseas was far lower than in the U.S.  That development helped generate value for the shareholders in apparel firms.

So, I am afraid no Columbia Sportswear products will be making my top ten Made in America gift ideas since Columbia Sportswear has so diligently developed “mutually-beneficial relationships with manufacturing partners in over 15 countries, where virtually all of Columbia Sportswear’s products are produced today.”  But don’t worry, over the next few weeks I will be recommending wonderful American made holiday gift ideas for every possible friend and relation.  Ho Ho Ho!

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About tapirking

I live in Seattle and love telling stories about Americans, the places where they work and the things that they make.
This entry was posted in american made, Apparel, Made in America, Outsourcing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Virtually none would have been a shorter answer

  1. J Adams says:

    why can I not find what countries Columbia Sportswear are made? Simple question…and yes, I know its a long list.

  2. Azelle says:

    I’m having the same problem. It seems like they’re not even required to report it.

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