I sometimes feel that I should have a big “Made in China” logo tattooed on my person.
With the exception of my jeans (Pakistan) and my belts and suit (New Zealand), it seems as if almost every article of clothing in my wardrobe is made in China. Even the merino icebreaker t-shirt I purchased for tooling around snow covered Europe is made there. No doubt in order to allay these fears they have made special efforts to create a “BAACODE” so we can track which sheep and farm a given shirt comes from. The fact that the BAACODE (E37C4298B) attached to my shirt is apparently invalid, doesn’t give me much faith that icebreaker gear deserves it’s reputation.
After my debacle in January of attempting to buy New Zealand made barstools that didn’t cost a spare limb for each stool – end result; I found some on trademe – I thought that I’d purchase a nice leather jacket, also, made in New Zealand. Well, it turns out that Leather Direct NZ does use NZ leather – and outsources the manufacturing to Pakistan. Fail.
The two main reasons that I want to buy New Zealand made boil down to economic, and environmental. If New Zealand keeps importing everything, soon enough we won’t produce anything except untreated wood planks, steak, wool, and the occasional misguided PHP programmer. Secondly, I can’t quite shake the feeling that until we truly have unlimited clean energy, the practice of shearing a sheep, bailing up the wool, shipping it 10,000 kilometers across the world to turn it into a shirt, and then shipping said shirt back to the same country it came from is just ever so slightly inefficient and environmentally destructive.
Also, on a completely anecdotal level, I’ve been somewhat distressed at the quality level of what I’ve been buying, despite the amount I’ve paid for it. (Tarocash, I’m looking at you.)
For one year, starting from today, I’m going to try to source all my clothing from New Zealand manufacturers. I’m not throwing out my existing clothes, and if I’m in another country or up a mountain and desperately need a pair of socks or a woolly hat, I’ll look for the locally made brand, but the pragmatic and imperative need to avoid frostbite is going to win out over my ideological and journalistic integrity.
In keeping with the environmental aspect, I will try to keep to natural fibres that are locally produced – where possible. As far as I’m aware, there is not a natural fibre replacement for elastic, and New Zealand simply doesn’t produce any cotton. Therefore, where possible, I’ll go for Australian cotton. With some exceptions, I expect that it will also be very difficult to get specifics on where fibre originates from anyway.
So far, I’ve identified Duncan, & Prudence and Rixon Groove as NZ based clothing producers. This should see me set up for shirts and trousers, and New Zealand made socks and belts seem very easy to procure. At this point, the items I expect to give me difficulty are shoes – especially sports shoes, and underwear.
Finally, I appreciate that this exercise will involve me paying a premium, and though I hope that the higher price will mean a higher quality product, but there is a certain level of expenditure which I’m not willing to go over. I’m not going to spend $200 on a t-shirt.
I intend to blog this process as I go along. Comments, thoughts, and suggestions are very welcome.