Made In The USA, Affordably: Genusee

If you’re wearing eyeglasses or sunglasses right now, do you know where they were made? Unless you made specific efforts to ensure otherwise, chances are the answer is “China”. And it’s not just the $5.99 Oakley ripoffs sold at every gas station; the vast majority of high-end glasses are also made in China, largely by the EssilorLuxxotica conglomerate. Even when they’re labeled “Made In Italy”, it often just means “assembled in Italy”, which is why Ray-Ban Wayfarers are “Made In China” when you buy bare frames for prescription lenses and “Made In Italy” when you buy a complete set of sunglasses using the same frames.

Finding non-Chinese glasses is an exhausting task. For more than a decade I wore about a dozen versions of the same basic frame, all made by ProDesign in Japan. That frame shape is out of production so now I have Silhouettes (Austria), Safilo (Italy), and Dillon Optics (Italy with USA lenses) depending on the day and the task. I also have a very good set of ROKA cycling glasses which to my sorrow are Chinese. If ROKAs were made in the USA I’d have ten pairs of them.

If you want a completely USA-made set of glasses, you have very few choices. Shuron makes a variety of vintage-looking frames here at a very competitive price, and… uh, I think that’s it. Until recently. Now there’s Genusee.

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Made in the USA: CBDRL Hand Sanitizer


So perhaps you live somewhere (like, say, NEW YORK) where people have lost their minds and turned into caged rats, hoarding every last bit of toilet paper, paper towels, and cleaning products, and all you want is to make sure that your hands are sanitized. Alas, the hoarders have bought enough hand sanitizer to keep their callous-ridden hands (you know what I’m talking about) germ-free until the next time they leave their parent’s basements.

You went to Amazon and the like online, but to no avail—the hand sanitizer is gone. Fear not, Riverside Green readers. We have a solution. And, of course, since this is the RG, it’s Made in the USA.

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Made In The USA, 50% Off: Thalia Capos, Phone Cases, And More

During Summer NAMM 2018 I had a chance to meet Chris of Thalia Capos, which had just opened. He explained to me how they make very high-end guitar capos AND phone cases in the United States. They’ve had a pretty good start but like many small businesses they are about to be in a world of hurt. They’re offering 50% off right now for most of their products, as long as you can wait until mid-April for delivery.

I’ve been using the Thalia capos for a while now — they are very serious pieces of hardware and have largely replaced the G7 Pro Capo I used for a decade or so. The intonation is particularly good, although if you own dozens of guitars it can be a hassle to switch the very specific pads which make that possible and which are supplied in bulk with every capo. They come in every finish and material you can imagine, plus custom designs to your spec. The same is true of their phone cases. I bought some stuff from Chris today and I think you’d be happy if you did as well. That’s all, folks!

When Swatch Attacks

Much of this video is pure cringe — PERSONALLY, I LOVE THE SWATCH GROUP! — and it suffers from the typical YouTube disease of stretching a five-minute explanation into a half-hour drag, but it might be worth your attention.

If you don’t like watching videos, here’s the scoop: The great people at Vortic take pocketwatches from the World War I era, fix them up, then put them into Colorado-made wristwatch cases. I am a Vortic owner, I’ve visited the tiny workshop in which they do their work. I’m a fan.

The Swatch Group is not a fan. Swatch, which owns a variety of brands like Omega in addition to, ah, Swatch, is now the owner of the Hamilton brand. They use “Hamilton” as a skinsuit brand beneath which they sell watches made from Swiss and, ahem, overseas components. They’re pissed off that Vortic re-cases Hamilton pocketwatches. They don’t think that a watch made in the United States by the original Hamilton factory should be permitted to retain the brand. That should belong to the modern globalized conglomerate known as Swatch Group.

Wednesday morning, Vortic will be defending itself in Federal court. This is the most one-sided contest humanly imaginable. Were I a billionaire, I’d fund Vortic’s defense. Since I’m not, I’ll be voting with my pocket: no more Swatch group stuff for me.

Forget It Jack, It’s Chinatown: Meyer Optik Nocturnus

This is what they call the double whammy: A German holding company created several brands for use on Kickstarter, where they pimped new Made-In-Germany camera lenses at prices of $3,000 or more. Then the “brands” went bankrupt without fulfilling all of their Kickstarter orders. As is common practice on Kickstarter, that doesn’t mean you get your money back. So a lot of people paid three grand and didn’t get a camera lens.

The people who did get their lens? Well, that’s the second part of the double whammy.

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Made In The USA, Ten-Dollar Hat Edition: Gustin

Many of my readers are already Gustin members. I’ve had some good luck with their stuff over the years, although the sizing can be a bit tricky. My “Japan Shine” blue jeans are far and away the best denim pants I’ve ever owned or encountered.

Gustin’s doing $15 Made In The USA knit hats for the winter. If you’re not already a Gustin member, joining with my total sellout referral link gives you a five dollar credit. I get five bucks as well. So it’s a ten dollar hat.

But wait, there’s more. Comment below, even if you don’t buy a hat. I’ll pick a random comment, probably by using the last two digits of the S&P or something like that, and I’ll give the winner a sixty-dollar Dearborn Denim credit from my last referral spree. And if I get enough referral credits to take some of the sting out of the purchase, I’ll use them to buy the Horween #8 L3 jacket. Everybody wins.

Made In The USA: Woobies MOD-1

There were 1,400 pairs of Vans skate shoes made in the United States last year. I now own two pairs of them: one in white, one in black. Unfortunately for me, they were so expensive, and so irreplaceable, that I have yet to lace either pair up. Yes, I know that’s ridiculous.

When I read about the WOOBIES MOD-1, however, I thought that I might have stumbled on an affordable alternative. The WOOBIES website and marketing materials are primarily focused on “first responders” and military types, but the phrase “skate shoe” does appear. And the price is right: $85, just a bit more than a set of Ultracush-equipped Vans Pros. So I ordered a pair. They’re produced intermittently so it took a while for the Mod-1s to arrive. So… are they a great alternative to Vans?

The answer, as Juan Peron’s advisors say in Evita, is… a qualified yes.

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Last Call For American Stretch

It didn’t work out. Last year, I told you how the nice people at Dearborn Denim managed to preserve their arrangement with Denim North America. Today, I got an email telling me that “DNA” had cancelled the arrangement. Dearborn has seven rolls of the fabric left; when they are sold, they will be purchasing from Cone Mills. You know, that Cone Mills. The ones who got moved to Mexico by their private-equity strip-and-sale.

If you want to try Dearborn before it’s too late, click here. You get ten bucks off, and I get ten bucks’ worth of credit towards my next Dearborn purchase. What’s next for the company? According to the email I received, they are going to work on creating their own denim in Chicago, “but it is at least a four year process.” Let’s hope they make it.

The last remaining denim mill in the United States is Mount Vernon Mills, which supplies LC King — but LC King pants are very traditional, stiff-then-shrink affairs. The Dearborn Stretch Denim was a different animal, very compatible with a bike-to-work or physical-labor lifestyle. I’ll miss it.

Made In The USA: Allen-Edmonds And The “Artisans Of Freedom”

A few weeks ago, my brother sent me a picture of some “Le Tigre” shorts he’d seen at a yard sale. Le Tigre was, to be a charitable, a budget brand back in the Eighties; one of our best friends at the time endured a few weeks’ worth of vicious ribbing because he showed up to school wearing their stuff. Perhaps “junk” would be a better word for Le Tigre, actually. And yet the tag on those shorts that Bark found read “Made In USA”. Yes, there was a time when even our cheap and junky stuff was domestically produced — and until we get back to the days when “Made In The USA” does not almost always correlate to “expensive and upscale” we won’t really have a manufacturing renaissance in this country.

In the meantime, however, we have the Artisans of Freedom, a charmingly (if haphazardly) arranged group of high-end clothing and accessory manufacturers assembled like the Justice League by the nice people at Allen-Edmonds. The “Artisans Of Freedom” watch by Weiss sold out almost immediately, and given what I know about production quantities in Cameron’s two-man shop it will be quite some time until the orders are filled. That’s exciting in and of itself, but there’s more to the Artisans than a very handsome manual-wind watch.

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