Since Iíve been receiving a fairly steady stream of emails in the past few months about how to buy American underwear, and Sara Lee is shutting down the part of their Asheboro, North Carolina plant that makes underwear cutting 200 jobs there, I thought it would be a good topic for the Buy American Mention of the Week. Although I donít profess to know all the few-in-number brand names that make underwear in the USA, Jockey is one brand that is definitely made in American.
Jockey was recently in the news announcing plans to close their plants in Kentucky, affecting 400 workers. Although some jobs will be lost to the Caribbean, Jockey will keep manufacturing jobs in the USA by transferring some of the work to existing factories in Georgia and North Carolina.
My recommendation that American consumers buy Jockey brand underwear is certainly not a celebration of the Kentucky workers losing their jobs, but it is a warning that Jockey may be in the stepping-stone stages of transferring all production overseas unless consumers purchase American-made underwear from the remaining American factories.
History is littered with examples of stepping-stone stages of consolidating production in existing American factories before the ultimate decision is made to move completely overseas. My Buy American Mention of the Week from December 22, 2001 featured Dan River, Inc., which closed plants in South Carolina and Georgia and moved the work to their Virginia and Tennessee plants. Dan River, Inc. recently filed for bankruptcy and their future is now uncertain.
Letís make sure this doesnít happen to Jockey so they donít have to join their foreign-owned rival Fruit of the Loom and transfer their entire production overseas. Fruit of the Loom is now headquartered in the Cayman Islands for tax-avoidance purposes.
A few years ago, I purchased some Jockey and Calvin Klein underwear from JC Penney. Both were made in USA at the time, but I have not looked at Calvin Klein labels lately.
So next time youíre in a major retail store, throw some American-made Jockeys in your shopping cart. You know youíll need some eventually anyhow. By buying them sooner rather than later, youíll increase the chances that when you need to purchase them again, the label will still say "Made in USA."