Hurricane

October 30, 2012

Sometimes, it is impossible to complete your goals and objectives despite your best intentions. Events beyond your control can hinder or stop progress on the things that matter most to you. In those instances, you can choose to suffer or simply accept that you cannot control everything around you. For example, I had a goal today which required me to speak to business contacts in the northeast. Since the entire northeast is bracing for Hurricane Sandy, most of these business contacts were not at work today. This was a circumstance beyond my control. I joyfully accepted that and worked on other projects which I had complete control over.

The MIUSA movement is not something I have any control of. I can’t lobby for funds for the movement, I can’t require stores to carry only MIUSA clothing or impose consequences on stores that sell foreign made clothes. What I can do is continue to engage others in the movement and sustain my own passion and interest in the movement. These actions and my enthusiasm are fully in my control. No one or nothing else can hinder these. Even the mightiest hurricane does not stand a chance against the force of my commitment.

Made in the USA Fashionistas

October 27, 2012

Lately, I started exploring fashion forums and other fashion minded communities. What I have found lately is more fashion fans are discussing MIUSA clothes and their preference for it. Hearing this is a dream come true and music to my ears! Whereas I always believed fashionistas cared more about the latest designs and styles, a growing number also care about investing in high quality MIUSA clothes. They are not interested in the civil and human rights they are upholding by buying MIUSA clothes, they simply care about the quality of MIUSA clothes and how great they look juxtaposed against their foreign made counterpart. That is fine by me. If someone values fashion much more than other more soulful values, there’s nothing wrong with that. The end result is the MIUSA clothing movement is gaining more fans and supporters everyday. That is a beautiful thing.

final response

October 26, 2012

I received what I believe is my final response from Banana Republic. Ummm, my name is not Katherine…

Dear Katherine,

Thank you for your interest in shopping for US products with Banana Republic. Unfortunately, we do not have a list that we can send you of the products made in the U.S. If there is a particular item or items you are interested in, we can provide you with more information if we have the item number. Please know, on the product page, in the “about this product” section you will see whether or not it is imported, if that helps.

Additional questions? Please contact us at custserv@bananarepublic.com or by calling 1-888-BR-STYLE (1-888-277-8953).

Sincerely,

Dara
Customer Service Consultant

Responding

October 25, 2012

I fired off another letter to Banana Republic:

Katherine,

Hello, thank you for your note. Can you please tell me which of your current BR clothing items are Made in the USA? My most recent visit to the store in South Florida did not have any MIUSA clothing. I also could not find it on your website.

I look forward to your response.

Best Regards,

Former #1 fan

Banana Republic’s response

October 24, 2012

I’m happy to see that Banana Republic responded back to my email. After reviewing their website, I still have no data that they are making their clothes in the US. Perhaps my next step is to call them? Their response is below:

Dear Banana Republic Customer,

Thank you for your email and feedback regarding the country of origin of Banana Republic products. Gap Inc. sources products from around the world, including the United States. You can learn more about our sourcing practices by visiting our website, http://www.gapinc.com/socialresponsibility.

We appreciate the time you’ve taken to contact us to share your thoughts. We’ll be sure to pass your message along to the appropriate parties.

Thank you again for contacting us. We appreciate your feedback and the opportunity to address your concerns.

Sincerely,

Katherine

Banana Republic Customer Relations

My Letter to Banana Republic

October 19, 2012

Dear Banana Republic,

I am writing because I once was your most ardent and loyal fan. I loved your stylish, classy, well fitted clothing for many years. I stopped shopping at your stores in 2008. The quality of your clothes had deteriorated to such a point that it made no sense to buy them anymore. I believe this drop in quality coincided with your company’s manufacturing switching from the US to China. I implore you to please consider following the trend of other companies and return your manufacturing back to the United States. My reasons are not political. Although Made in USA has regained popularity and is on the lips of our politicians, the best reason to make your clothes in the US again is to reinstate the excellent quality your clothes were once known for. I will never shop in your stores again unless you resume making your clothes in the US again. Although I still find the designs and styles of your clothes quite attractive, it just is not the worth the money if the clothes fall apart within weeks of buying them. I hope you reconsider your stance.

Sincerely,

Your former #1 fan

A past love…

October 16, 2012

 

     It is very difficult to write a letter to a former love.  All the pleasant thoughts and memories of the romance come rushing back before they are quickly replaced with the present reality of the broken relationship. Therefore, I found it especially hard to write a letter of complaint to my once favorite store: Banana Republic.  Over a decade ago, I loved this store and their clothes so much I spent well over $100 every time I visited the store.  Anyone that knows me well knows I rarely spend over $100 on anything. Banana Republic was an exception.  It was “my exception” (Alex to Gigi – “He’s Just Not That Into You”- great movie!).

I noticed the quality of the beautiful clothes I bought at BR (no, not bathroom but that is a good resting place for their current poor quality clothing- kidding! Okay, half kidding.) started to deteriorate around 2007.  Although the prices of their sexy, smart, classic style clothing stayed as high as ever, the clothes started to fall apart after only a few washes.  I could expect this from a $5 t -shirt but not a beautifully designed $85 silk blouse.  Unbeknown to me at the time, the company had switched from making their clothes in the US to outsourcing the work to China.  Apparently, I wasn’t the only customer who noticed this shocking degradation of quality.  I came upon this blog posting from 2008 from a former loyal customer who had a similar experience:

 

My email to  BR: ———————— I’m a long time Banana Republic  shopper, with the brand composing at least 50% of my wardrobe. It’s among my  favorite brands because of the fresh styles, reasonable prices, fit and quality.  However, the quality seems to be taking a turn for the worse which is what is  prompting this email. Over the past 4 months I’ve bought a dress, tank top and  skirt all of which have had to be taken to the tailor to have the hems re-sewed  after one washing, a jacket with a sleeve seam that came apart after one wearing  and a silk shirt which is starting to fray at the seams of both sleeves after  two trips to the dry cleaner. This on top of a handful of dresses with colors  that fade and fabrics that loose their smoothness after a few washings. I’ve  never encountered worse quality in clothing than I have from BR over the  previous 4 months. Normally I would just stop shopping at your store, but  because I have shopped BR for years and have never had quality issues (I have a  dress that I bought 8 years ago, worn and washed more times than I can count  that still looks brand new) I’m giving BR the benefit of the doubt by sending  this email and encouraging that the quality be examined. Please respond and let  me know how you will address these concerns.

 

BR’s  Response ————————- Thank you for your e-mail. We are sorry to learn of your disappointment with the  current merchandise quality at Banana Republic. However, we definitely  appreciate feedback from our customers – both positive and negative – and your  message will be shared with our Merchandising team. Customer feedback is the  most important consideration when our merchants are planning what our  merchandise quality will be like in the future.
As a note, you can take  merchandise to your local Banana Republic store for evaluation, and we will be  happy to offer you a return or replacement once the merchandise has been deemed  defective by a manager at any Banana Republic store.
If we may be of  further assistance, please contact us via e-mail at custserv@bananarepublic.com or by  calling 1-888-BR-STYLE. Our Customer Service Consultants are available 24 hours  a day for your convenience.
Sincerely,
Ed Customer Service  Consultant

 

The rest of the email exchange and the follow up or lack thereof from BR can be found here:

http://marketingengagement.blogspot.com/2008/09/responding-to-customer-complaints.htm

Tomorrow, I will post my own letter to my once great love BR.  I’m curious as to what their response will be.  Will they care? Will they even remember me and how loyal and committed I was to them?  I’ll find out tomorrow!

MIUSA news in the news

October 9, 2012

I am beyond pleased that twice in one week, Made in USA news is in the news. Although I pride myself on ignoring what I perceive as negative and sensationalistic journalism, every once in a while I find a story focused on the growing popularity of MIUSA products.

This terrific article appeared in yesterday’s Yahoo news articles:

http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/advisor/-made-in-the-u-s-a—bucking-a-30-year-trend.html- made in usa

I hope to see many more of these articles. As more companies return to manufacturing their products here in the USA, the quality of the products will improve as will consumer confidence and eventually the economy. I am glad to see companies that have previously outsourced their work are returning their plants to the US in droves. Its about time:)

Contemplating

October 1, 2012

I’m contemplating which fashion company I will write a complaint letter to this week. Ralph Lauren seems an obvious choice given the controversy over their Team USA olympic uniforms being made in China. However, closer to my heart are my two former favorite stores Ann Taylor and Banana Republic. I grew up loving these stores because the clothes were smart, attractive and timeless. Both stores also had a knack for putting together terrific outfits on their mannequins. I would spend hours in each store browsing through the clothes and putting together sexy. sophisticated and classic outfits. I especially loved their summer blouses and dress shirts. Although the clothes looked terrific coming home from the store and after a few initial outings, the clothes quickly started deteriorating after a few washes. I learned that the only way to preserve the integrity of these pretty clothes was to refrain from washing them and wearing them infrequently. Any wash faded the colors and shrunk the fabric. This was to be expected as both of these stores’ clothes were and still are foreign made.

In my letter to either Ann Taylor or Banana Republic this week, I will stress that although I still enjoy the designs of their fashions, the clothes have very little mileage as they cannot be washed or wrinkled because they would be permanently ruined I would suggest the most obvious solution to this problem is to make all their clothes MIUSA. Who knows if anything will result from my letter and my commitment? All I can control are my actions and my follow through. I suspect they are all I will ever need.

The Made in America Store

September 29, 2012

Just when I thought the Made in USA movement was losing steam, along comes the very first 100% Made in America store. The store which is located in PA boasts over 300 stores selling only products made in the USA.

http://news.yahoo.com/made-america-store-expands-social-media-front-071705191.html

The happy news of this store reminds me that if enough people share my vision, fully committ to it and and move the goal forward, my dream of seeing only MIUSA clothing in stores may come to fruition. I only hope that enough people share this vision and like me, would work hard enough to uphold it.