EXCLUSIVE: AFL-CIO calls on Trump to explain misleading “Made in the USA” claims
Some of Donald Trump's suits were advertised on Amazon as being made in the United States. But AFL-CIO research into Trump's supply chain suggests that none of his apparel products are manufactured here, nor substantially changed after arrival to meet the guidelines for the claim. In fact, after the misrepresentation was exposed by BuzzFeed, Amazon took it down. Like everything else related to Trump: It appears to have been a fraud.
Donald Trump’s apparel line, the Donald J. Trump Signature Collection, consists of menswear — primarily ties, dress shirts, vests, sports coats, and suits. He was famously called out by David Letterman in 2012 for outsourcing the manufacture of his apparel to Bangladesh and China.
“Because of the manipulation of their currency, when you go out, it’s very hard to get product that isn’t made in China,” he insisted. “I have nothing against China. I just hate that their leaders are so much smarter than our leaders that almost all of our product is made over there.”
Now, Trump is petitioning to be the leader — and though he once was described by the President of his suit licensee, Marcraft Group, as paying “close attention to every detail” and “even caring about things like button placement on suit sleeves” — Trump seems to have major lapses in the oversight of his apparel’s supply chain and the advertising of his products by other sellers.
According to research provided by the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in country, some of the suits in his collection were even advertised simultaneously on Amazon.com as “Made in the USA” and as “imported.”
Further, the research mapping his supply chain has found that there is no evidence any of the suits are manufactured or substantially changed in the USA, as required in order to meet the FTC guidelines for using a “Made in the USA” label.
Apparel sold as part of the Trump Signature Collection appears to be neither “all or virtually all” made in the United States, nor comprised of “significant parts and processing…of U.S. origin.” Instead, the items are manufactured in and imported from a number of foreign countries, including Honduras, Vietnam, China, Mexico, Indonesia, and Vietnam.
There is no indication the suits are arriving unassembled, or in some other way qualify as “substantially transformed” once they arrive in the United States. To the contrary, the suits shipped from abroad, for example, are generally described in the shipment labels as “men’s suits” rather than “pieces of men’s suits.”
There is good reason, of course, to misrepresent the origins of apparel. Products marketed as having been made in the United States appeal to American consumers, who will also pay a premium for domestically-manufactured products.
As a politician who is running on the slogan “Make America Great Again,” and whose central economic message is criticism of trade deals that offshored American jobs, Trump has a keen interest in voters believing that at least some of the products he hawks under his own name are American-made, and thus had no interest in correcting Amazon’s misrepresentation.
But the research into his supply chain seems to indicate that Trump’s suits are simply not made in America. And his criticism of trade deals amounts to little more than empty rhetoric when he has no credible plan to change the way business — including his own — is done.
“The low road outsourcing of Trump apparel to countries that consistently fail to uphold workers’ fundamental rights also erodes the fundamental rights of American workers,” said Elizabeth Bunn, Director of Organizing at AFL-CIO. “Despite what rhetoric Trump may have around trade agreements like NAFTA and the TPP, these business practices clearly show he lacks the will to develop and implement a real policy solution to create good manufacturing jobs for Americans. Trump could have ensured his products were made under better conditions, and in the U.S., but instead chose personal greed at the expense of American workers.”
Bunn added: “We call on candidate Trump to immediately explain why he did not correct Amazon’s misrepresentation of the origins of his suits.”