ARCANUM — Consumers will find it difficult to find American-made clothing today. More than 98 percent of clothing sold in the United States is currently foreign-made, according to a Darke County business owner.
Educating consumers about what’s behind the clothing they buy can be challenging. And the workers at All American Clothing Company are certainly up for that challenge.
“We’re all about American made,” said BJ Nickol, co-owner of All American Clothing Company, whose business mission is to support American families and jobs by producing high quality clothing in the U.S. at an affordable price.
The company operates out of Arcanum with its manufacturing plant in Kentucky. Products include American-made jeans, shirts, shoes, accessories and more. They recently added a selection of buck knives and locally made soap.
“We care about our country and the people in it,” explained Nickol. “And if we were only in it for the money, we’d move our production overseas, but I guess our motto is that we won’t trade American jobs for foreign profits.”
The company started in 2002 when his father, Lawson Nickol, learned that the denim company he worked for at the time moved some of its production to Mexico. This went against what Lawson Nickol believed in, and so he asked his son, BJ, to start their own company.
“I was laid off from my job at the time,” said Nickol. “And so of course I had a pretty good understanding of what keeping jobs here in America meant.” The father and son duo started the business on a 20-acre farm, which they now rent out to a neighboring farmer, rotating between beans and corn.
Almost 16 years later, the business is now a multi-million dollar company, providing jobs to 10 people at its headquarters in Arcanum and 50 people at the manufacturing plant in Kentucky.
They source through more than 20 different U.S. states for all of the clothing and products. However, the company is down to just one denim mill in the U.S. “At the end of last year, we had three [denim mills] and in December, two more of them closed up,” said Nickol.
He says that the biggest obstacle is educating people. “People just see a shirt on the rack as just a shirt and they need a shirt,” said Nickol.
He says that there’s many aspects behind products that people usually don’t think about, “whether it’s the slave labor, poor working conditions and even the environmental regulations.”
Nickol is competing against other countries where people are paid little and forced to work in poor working conditions. “The reason we don’t see it happening in the United States is because we think it’s wrong,” explained Nickol. “We think people should make a fair wage.”
People should be able to work without being afraid of their safety, he added. “But it’s almost like we turn a blind eye to it because it’s not happening here.”
According to Nickol, the standard of living is going down because “we’re not making things here anymore, we’re not keeping jobs here.” He wants to do what he can to change that.
“That’s why it’s important to me to keep jobs here, so that my girls have jobs when they get old enough to start working,” said Nickol.
All American Clothing Company supports its local community, including schools, fire departments, police departments and locals events.
Information and products can be found at www.allamericanclothing.com.
Amanda Rockhold is a staff writer for Rural Life Today. She can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617.