Mitch Cahn is the owner and founder of Unionwear, an apparel and accessories makerâ€”all exclusively made in the U.S. Despite years of panicked manufacturing headlinesâ€”Japan is making everything! No, It's China!â€”Cahn has kept his business open for 21 years and counting, all on American soil.
The company's first core customers were unions that wanted to support union wages and "Made in USA" goods. Then more recently, a new crop of customers began ringing Unionwear headquarters in Newark, N.J.
East Coast fashion designersâ€”including those in NYC's garment districtâ€”were shopping for U.S.-based contract manufacturers. With labor costs in China rising and that country's own economy accelerating, small U.S. shop owners couldn't get the attention of overseas manufacturers. In an ironic twist, they couldn't afford a "Made in China" strategy.
"Now we have five to 10 callers a day about doing that kind of contract work. It's a groundswell," Cahn said. "And it's not patriotism. It's economics that's prompting them to call us," he said.
(Read More: 10 Cool 'Made in the USA' Products)
Cahn's changing business points to the shifting global economy. With labor costs in China forecast to climb further, more small-business owners are benefiting from, or actively pursuing, domestic manufacturing rather than overseas options, sometimes called reshoring.
And small shop manufacturers aren't just dusting off shuttered businesses, locked up after jobs moved to countries such as Japan in the 1970s. Young entrepreneurs are innovating from scratch, creating new online communities such as Maker's Rowâ€”and even turning to emerging platforms such as crowdfundingâ€”to bankroll U.S. manufacturing operations.
(Read More: Made in the USA: More Consumers Buying American)