“The names of the suppliers with whom we contract are confidential proprietary information of Roots. Given the highly competitive nature of this industry and the risk of counterfeit products, we, like most other companies including our many competitors, do not publish the names and addresses of the factories we work with. We also do this out of respect for the privacy of these facilities. In the case of our own exemplary, state-of-the-art factory in Toronto, we have often hosted journalists, school groups and NGO members there. That’s how proud we are of the conditions we maintain in our own factory. “
Canadian…Or is it??
Whenever we go to visit family in other parts of the world, we always buy gifts that are “Canadian” or have the words “Canada” written on them. I’ve never really checked the label on a lot of these clothing items as I always assumed because it says “CANADA” written across a t-shirt or a hat for instance, that it was made in Canada. After recently learning that this isn’t the case, it’s left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. One of my family’s personal favourite gift ideas was clothing made by Roots. Roots Canada is a proudly Canadian company, based in Toronto where it was founded in 1973. We’ve always chosen Roots for my children and family, and always for gift ideas for international family members as well. Since I’ve recently started looking at tags and where clothing is made, I’ll be honest when when I say I was more than disappointed that a lot of Roots homemade items are indeed made in countries other than Canada. To be specific, they are are manufactured in China, Mexico, India, Ukraine, Italy, Peru and of course, Canada! Who would’ve thought right? Roots Canada should equal made in Canada…or at least, that’s what I assumed.
What’s in a Label?
Made in Canada doesn’t necessarily equate to a product being 100% made in Canada as most people would assume. According to the Bureau, as long at least 51% of the total direct costs of producing or manufacturing the good have been incurred in Canada, a product can be claimed to be made in Canada. I don’t know about you but that seems pretty vague to me. As I mentioned earlier, when I’d think of great gifts to buy for family in international parts of the world, without hesitation I would think of Roots because it’s a Canadian company, and therefore the clothes would also be made in Canada right? Wrong! I must say, the feeling I got after learning this all was not that of elation or intrigue, but rather, of disappointment and deception. When buying clothes or products for my friends or family now, I try and read tags and labels on clothing to see where they were made. I feel that being Canadian I want to help our economy by purchasing products made in our country. On this same level, I feel that Roots should be doing the same but instead, they choose to go to countries where they can pay for cheap labour and reap the rewards of maximum profit. I’m not trying to be harsh or overly judgmental on this particular issue, I’m just saying I think one can try to be “economical” and still be loyal to your country. I feel perhaps we should try to work harder at staying within our beautiful country and using our local resources to produce products.
Some Facts about Roots
Michael Budman and Don Green who still run the business today founded Roots in 1973. The privately held Canadian company began with a small store in Toronto selling what soon became the highly successful Roots ‘negative heel’ shoe.
Green is more than just the official colour of Roots. It also reflects the company’s longtime environmental commitment, which includes using recycled, reclaimed and non-toxic materials in the building of stores; making sustainable products; supporting various environmental organizations and related projects.
Roots has a rich Canadian heritage and a strong link with Canada. The country’s nature, culture, sports and human diversity have always been a major source of inspiration at Roots. Employing nearly 2,000 people in Canada, Roots also contributes to the employment of thousands more through its work with suppliers and other activities.
Roots has more than 200 retail stores in Canada, the United States, and Asia, (China, Taiwan).
Roots is Canada’s leading lifestyle brand known around the world for its quality leather goods, apparel, accessories and home furnishings.
Roots merchandise includes Roots Genuine Leather (jackets, bags and luggage); Roots Athletics (sportswear); Roots Kids and Roots Baby (clothing); Roots Home (leather furniture, linens, towels and accessories) and a number of licensees in categories including timepieces and luggage.
Roots also has a network of approximately 40 outlet stores throughout Canada called Roots 73. Generally, Roots 73 stores feature more affordable, more mass-produced clothing for the entire family while staying true to Roots quality and style. Most of the merchandise is made specially for Roots 73 stores.
Where Do We Go From Here?
I’ll be going on an international trip next month. Will I still be shopping for friends and family? Yes! Will I still choose to buy Roots products as gifts? Yes. I’m just going to be more savvy in my tag reading though, and I’ll do my best to find articles of clothing that are actually made in Canada. That’s not so difficult to do right? Right! That’s what excites me and gives me the feeling of elation and intrigue. If I do a little bit of research and look into things (doesn’t have to be a long, time consuming process), I can do my part in fashion and ethics and loyalty to my country. What’s not to feel happy about that?