Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

Website celebrates brands that manufacture in the United States.

The world’s ultimate adventures consist of ice climbing the Canadian Rockies and scuba diving off the British Columbia coast, according to National Geographic.

To Rita Mehta, the ultimate adventure is shopping.

Mehta is the author of The American Edit, a website that celebrates American-made fashion — and Mehta certainly knows fashion. From scouring the city to find the perfect pair of jeans to traveling overseas for her work with major global retailers, Mehta has furthered her obsession with quality, deriving pleasure from the smallest details at every outing.

And that focus on quality was her initial driving force to buy American-made.

“I was at a point where I was spending more money on my apparel and had found that there wasn't a clear relationship between price and quality,” Mehta says. “As I looked further into this, I realized that there was often — but not always! — a better relationship between where a product was made, the brand's thought process on production, and quality.”

For example, Mehta noticed a quality-cost gap when studying her husband’s clothing, which seemed to be of higher quality than her own. She discovered most of his clothing was manufactured in the United States, Europe and Japan, which prompted a decision to focus her efforts on products made in those areas.

She soon found herself sharing her new fashion journey with others. A love of reading blogs and brand stories inspired Mehta to start The American Edit in September 2013, with the goal of finding new products and sharing those finds with like-minded consumers. 

"I feel proud to buy products that are made by companies that I know and trust to produce responsibly and ethically and in America." Rita Mehta, The American Edit

The American Edit is more than your typical blog, though. It’s a user-friendly website that features Mehta’s A-List an encyclopedia of her favorite brands that she personally uses, purchases and would recommend to anyone — along with articles and blogs about the products she features. She also includes information on her own agency, which provides sourcing and production consulting, retail strategy development and brand identity and marketing.

“The goal for this blog is to be redundant, for it to be so easy to find American-made goods at every price point and retailer that there is no need for me to write about them,” Mehta says. “We've got some time [until] we get there, but it's already easier than it was when I started, so I'm hopeful.”

Of course, with every decision comes obstacles. While finding American-made products wasn’t very difficult, Mehta discovered that finding American-made products that appealed to her aesthetic tastes was a challenge.

Another obstacle?

“The biggest difficulty is cost — responsibly made American-made clothing tends to warrant a higher retail given the better wages, labor laws, and working conditions,” she says. “It can be difficult to tell people to spend more money on things they need, but I've found that we really need far less than we think, and it's always better to have a few nice things than piles of lesser things.”

Mehta also helps American manufacturers through her agency, utilizing her experience in retail, product development and merchandising to help American-made brands, makers and supporters build their businesses.

Mehta says she has always been passionate about small business, and wanted to support independent brands and makers however she could. Because of this, she works with retailers to discover American-made brands that fit within their assortments and with brands to launch products and build long-term growth strategies. 

“The best way to buy responsibly is to know where your product came from, and the best way to do that is to know who made it,” Mehta says.

“American-made is not perfect, and every supporter should know that — there is unethical and irresponsible production taking place here as well that no one should condone,” she adds. “However, I feel proud to buy products that are made by companies that I know and trust to produce responsibly and ethically and in America. It feels good to know that I'm supporting the economy and also my community.”