Sunday, July 22, 2012

Shopping in the Rain

I'm back from New York, but I will surely be posting about it for the next few weeks. This was my third time in NYC but it was my longest stay and first time in Brooklyn. On Wednesday I asked if we could make the walk across the East River via the Brooklyn Bridge. 

We did, and in the process were caught midway in a fairly impressive rainstorm. This may have been upsetting, if it hadn't have been 100 degrees and ├╝ber-dry the preceeding few days. It was the first time I'd seen rain in over a month and once we were safely huddled under the second arch we found it quite enjoyable. We got to see lightening hitting over the skyline of Manhattan—unfortunately, I have a slow shutter-finger and can't provide photographic evidence that this actually happened. 
Anyway, once we made our way across we reached DUMBO - a newerly developed neighborhood (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), which is home to younger professionals of the artsy and techy sort. 
We outsmarted the rain by sneaking into local shops and eateries. One notable shop was Brooklyn Industries—a cutting edge clothing design company founded in 1998. The company aims to engage the local community in art, clothing, design and style, and has 14 retail locations (12 in NYC+Portland+Chicago).

I found the brand to be well-made, well-intentioned, and well-designed, but was very disappointed to learn many of their products are made in China. It doesn't seem like sending your designs around the world is a great way to "engage the local community". I'd rather see the brand stay small, with one or two locations, while maintaining production in Brooklyn (as the name suggests) rather than grow to such success and quantities that requires overseas labor. 

So I'm torn. As much as I applaud their Social Responsibility objectives, the "Made in China" label inside my lovely new handbag breaks my heart.


  1. But you should know, better than most, that "Made in China" does not necessarily mean unethical. I agree that it would be awesome to employ locals to create these pieces, but it's more than just having the money to pay these workers. It's also paying for the space (we know that's in short supply around here; it's why cawfee roasters and brewers are few and far in between), it's paying for the equipment, it's paying for the equipment to be transported to the space, it's so much more.

    I'm painting a scenario where demand oustrips capacity. Perhaps in the future, Brooklyn Industries will have pooled enough profits to acquire all of the parts it needs to be local. Of course, they might already be there, given 14 years of existence, and are just being lazy about it.

  2. Yeah I understand that production is expensive, both in terms of space, equipment, labor and materials. Very very few products from WWW are made in the US because of this, and those specific products are ridiculously expensive. I just wish they'd consider setting up production in Iowa (code for small town/rural America) where space and labor may be more available and additional jobs would be an asset.

    I have no doubt Brooklyn Industries has thought about this and in an ideal situation wouldn't hesitate to do so. Growth is great, I just wonder at what cost is it worth?