Labor Day is around the corner. Like most holidays, we enjoy it for the work we will not do, and the leisure activities we will. But in the case of this holiday, not working really is a strange form of celebration, because we are celebrating the American worker. Yes, your hard-working ancestors, but also you. And you deserve a treat.
And guess what? You can celebrate the American worker and treat yourself at the very same time by indulging in America’s favorite pastime: handbag shopping on the Internet. The USA Made tote by Brooklyn-based Fleabags is, quite possibly, the best way (or, at least, not a bad one!) to show your pride in the American worker, look good, and not empty your wallet.
Creative Director Shira Entis and President Alexandra Bell started Fleabags in 2009—in the depths of the horrendous recession–when finding jobs was not easy. The long-time friends were entrepreneurial and had an itch to do something about it.
“A big issue we talked about in that recession was that we couldn’t generate jobs because American infrastructure had moved overseas,” said Creative Director Entis. “Not to glorify the assembly line, but handmade goods were something Americans had always been proud of.”
Starting in the 70s, the Great American Import Movement (we just coined that term) began. Before then, clothes were acquired from mothers or grandmothers, said Entis, and labels on new items read “Union Made” or “USA Made.”
One day, Entis and Bell took a trip to Whole Foods and realized even the ubiquitous green totes were imported from China. While the tote movement was well intentioned—a responsible replacement for the plastic bag–the friends realized they could do better by making them at home, supporting American industry and workers at the same time.
Fleabags is in it’s sixth year and lives in a large-windowed studio in Sunset Park. They work with production facilities in the garment district and Newark and, whenever possible, source canvas and leather from American suppliers.
Like all Fleabags, the USA Made tote looks simple yet hand-designed (it is) and ever so slightly different. “I wanted to convey something basic and legible, but also something that wasn’t so obvious,” said Entis. “We like things that are a little left-of-center, and that make you look and think rather than fade into the aesthetic world,” Entis summarized. “Or at least that’s the goal.”
Mission accomplished, we say. Now go shopping.