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Cecile Corral

The true believer

September 4, 2007

My much-younger and very idealistic brother, who is a junior at the University of Florida, is on a personal crusade to buy and use only "Made in the USA" clothing. He believes that it is bad business for all involved to do otherwise. By buying products made in third-world countries, we encourage American companies to shut down their US operations and thus eradicate jobs here and we also encourage the exploitation of workers overseas.
One such country in particular is a sore point — Haiti. He images that to be the cruelest country to factory workers. I do not know if that is true, but I can image it just might be.
As he says, "Everything from Banana Republic is made in a banana republic."
My family jokes that pretty soon he’ll be walking around campus naked. If not, he’ll have to drape himself in the American flag, which wouldn’t be a problem since he has a vast collection of cotton vintage ones he’s bought at garage sales. Actually, they are beautiful. I love those flags.
Needless to say, it’s practically impossible for him to find USA-made clothes. Forget the regular stores near his university. He hates the major discount chains and never sets foot in a department store. We’ve had to resort to thrift shopping, where our chances of finding him SOMETHING seem to be more successful because of the more dated assortment that includes product from a forgone era. (I clearly remember when I was a kid in the 1970s, my father — Cuban-born — was adamant about buying only American cars, as were my grandfathers and as I later learned my father-in-law, too.) One recent visit to a huge Miami thrift shop — aptly named Red, White and Blue — turned up three passable T-shirts, but no pants or shorts because not a single one could be found that met his strict criteria.
My mother tried buying him a nice pair of khakis at the Gap and she slyly cut the tag that notes the country of origin. He kindly and gently refuse to even try them on and forced her to return them for store credit for herself.
For our sakes, thank goodness he’s forgotten to check the labels of his sheets.