American Eagle Outfitters has been a staple of American fashion for almost five decades now. Beyond their global impact, American Eagle has always stood out due to its high-quality, ever-beloved jeans, entwined with American living, and standards.
But understanding their large-scale operations may bring into question whether they sew and stitch their jeans in the United States.
Throughout the rest of this article, I’ll share where American Eagle jeans are made and other interesting information about the company.
American Eagle jeans are made in many countries including Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, China, and Pakistan. Instead of making American Eagle jeans in their own factories, the company has partnered with over 300 third-party manufacturing factories.
Are Any American Eagle Jeans Made in the USA?
American Eagle has avoided manufacturing in the United States for the larger part of its trajectory. Mainly because their scheme has always involved third-party manufacturing plants for all of their products, thus keeping their merchandise at a competitive price. However, there have been certain limited lines of American-made jeans and apparel in their catalog throughout the years, but you can only count these as a rare exception.
American Eagle manufactured some of its jeans in the U.S through a few of its partners. It was part of their Wear America campaign in an effort to promote American-made denim pants through limited-edition apparel. Nevertheless, overseas manufacturing was still at the echelon of their production. With growing uncertainty and discontent from both investors and customers alike regarding their supply chain, AEO couldn’t afford their Wear America line.
More on American Eagle Jeans Manufacturing
About 40% of American Eagle jeans come from China, then, a growing 30% are manufactured in Indian facilities. The remaining total of their manufacturing operations varies between Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Vietnam, but of course in a rather speculative way.
There are over 300 partnered facilities manufacturing American Eagle apparel, but it remains hard to tell just how many of those actually supply their jeans, or where exactly these are located.
Sadly, American Eagle has been subject to public probation regarding its supply chain transparency, scoring 11-20% out of 100% in the Fashion Transparency Index in 2020. They do not disclose any of their partnered facilities’ information when it comes to their manufacturing supply chain.
American Eagle’s Manufacturing Presence in the United States
American Eagle doesn’t operate any manufacturing process in the United States, it is in fact headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Additionally, while American Eagle doesn’t make any of their clothes in the U.S, their designs are in fact made in the country. Also, AEO has managed to open as many as 1.307 stores across the globe, with 977 of them located in America.
Since the beginning, AEO has nailed its target consumers of students between ages 15 to 25. But the company has several subsidiaries or sub-brands to extend its reach, some of the most notable ones are:
- Martin + Osa
This spawns more than 40.000 associates across the globe, whether they’re in direct business with AEO or in association with any of their subsidiaries.
Is American Eagle Sustainable and Ethical?
American Eagle has taken the first few basic steps towards addressing labor risks in their partnered supply factories. As early as 2012, the brand made its first action to cease production and material sourcing from the region of Xinjiang, known for its brutal track of Ughyur labor.
While this might be positive to an extent, American Eagle has yet to make any remarks regarding the manufacturing practices of their partner suppliers. As previously mentioned though, AEO lacks transparency nor does it disclose Information on their suppliers list or supply workforce.
Furthermore “The KnowTheChain” methodology assesses the risks of forced labor within the parameters of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. In the United States, this process entails ILO core working rights standards and parameters and it’s legally binding for companies.
In the light of this, AEO is subject to a global supplier code of conduct that abides its partners to respect ILO labor standards. This includes of course the elimination of sweatshops and providing high standard working conditions for their manufacturing muscle, but the reality is always more complicated than simply established rules. Hence it’s really hard to say how these facilities operate.
As for ecological sustainability, AEO has taken into a denim recycling policy within their associated facilities, also, their stores serve as a recycling center for customers to drop off their old jeans.
On another hand, American Eagle Outfitters uses real leather and exotic animal hair in some of their clothing. Nevertheless, the company strictly forbids the following materials in their apparel:
- Endangered exotic animals’ skin and fur
- Mink, fox, rabbit, and beaver fur
- Mulesed wool
- Animal Testing
Finally, perhaps American Eagle’s most important effort started in 2017 when the company launched its very own Water Leadership Program. To this day, AEO has reduced its supplier’s water usage by 15%, saving roughly 3.4 billion gallons of water, which is estimated to gravitate towards 1.5 billion gallons saved per year in jeans only. Much of this initiative is possible thanks to their “Better Cotton” sourcing.
“Better Cotton” sourcing means that American Eagle uses 100% organic cotton in their Jeans, facilitating easy sewing for “removable hardware” which translates into easy recycling.
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Does American Eagle Give Back to the Community?
There is a handful of organizations that are supported by American Eagle. Notably, Feeding America and Food Banks Canada are a couple of non-profits that dedicate themselves to providing full meals to those in need across the US and Canada. In the last 3 years, this effort has amounted to helping donate over 25 million meals to local communities and food banks.
Also, American Eagle is one of Surfrider Foundation’s most notable allies, an organization that dedicates itself to the preservation, cleaning up, and raising awareness regarding the importance of sea life. The company has so far donated $695,000, which is a huge amount for a young initiative like Surfrider.
Who Owns American Eagle?
American Eagle is part of the holding company Retail Ventures ever since it was founded by the Silverman brothers back in 1977. AEO is also a public company and as part of the Retail Ventures ecosystem, It’s directly related to DSW (Design Brands Inc), Value City Furniture, and American Signature. If you’d like to learn more about how American Eagle got to where it is today, here is a cool video to check out.
American Made Jeans as an Alternative to AEO
If you’re looking for American made jeans there are lots of great alternatives to AEO. Here are some of our favorites:
Dearborn Denim Apparel: Based in Chicago, Illinois, Dearborn Apparel is all about transparency. Most of Dearborn’s jeans are sewed and tailored right on the upper floors of their stores, mainly this company invites you to see the process of creating the merchandise they’ll sell to you. It’s all handmade from cotton and denim sourced from America, taking pride in offering tailor services for any of their customers.
Besides transparency at its finest, Dearborn stands out for offering 9.5 oz of stretchable jeans for both men and women, available both in their stores in Illinois and online, for a very reasonable price.
Shockoe Atelier: Shockoe Atelier’s workshop was founded in Richmond, Virginia back in 2012 and opened its first shop/store at the historical heart of Richmond in the bottom Shockoe neighborhood. Known mainly for two things, ethical manufacturing and their classic-modern crossover jean designs for men and women, with high-quality American sourced cotton and denim.
Shockoe’s charm extends from reinvented classical clothing pieces to their lifetime tailor repairing policies so you could say that any pair of jeans you get from this Atelier is a lifetime set.
Todd Shelton: Founded in New Jersey back in 2006, by the man with the name upfront, Todd Shelton started out selling and manufacturing T-shirts before moving to his factory in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Todd Shelton sells all American-made jeans for men, his hook is to basically tackle the in-between sizes market, making one size fits all jeans for people. Recently, it’s expected for this rising brand to include women’s jeans in its selvedge, non-selvage denim catalog.
Raleigh Denim Workshop: Founded and based in Raleigh, North Carolina by a local couple. Raleigh’s Denim Workshop takes handcrafting very seriously, based on the idea that it allows them to make easier fits for everyone interested in American-based alternatives. Also, Realigh’s jeans are field-tested as part of their quality control process.
A larger part of Raleigh’s charm is that they are constantly on the look for better and more compatible materials, this doesn’t only help them provide customers with comfort but also gives an ecologically conscious take to their craft.
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That’s it for this post, if you have any other questions or if you know any information we should add to this guide, let us know in the comments below or feel free to contact us. While American Eagle is far from the ideal American brand, it still offers great quality apparel. It ranked #25 in the Global Top 100 Brands list and #6 in America’s Retailer category with a $4.24 billion market cap in 2019. Unfortunately, though, buying American Eagle doesn’t mean buying American.
Hi, my name is Kevin and I’m from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Choosing products made in America is important to me because it supports local economies, creates jobs, helps the environment, and ensures ethical labor practices. I also find that American made products are usually of higher quality so although they’re a little more expensive, you save money in the long run. Before starting this website I was in the USMC infantry and nowadays I work on this website as a hobby.