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A woman in leggings is a woman armed for battle. This practical yet not unflattering garment allows her to execute a variety of familial (school drop-off without forgetting it's "crazy hair day"), professional (coffee with a client), and personal (maybe Pilates later?) missions with efficiency and aplomb. If you were to design a statue commemorating the American Mom circa 2023, the easiest decision would be to outfit her in this athleisure staple.
And yet too often the "American thighs" that once sent AC/DC into such rapture are encased in imported tights; most of the big names in bottoms outsource production to Southeast Asia. Indeed, the majority of our clothes come from overseas, but it was not always this way. Here are a few leggings makers doing their part to ensure that Baby Got (a thriving textiles industry) Back.
If you're looking for something a little more retro, L.A.-based Aviator Nation will help you give '70s Socal surfer on your next hike or grocery expedition. And you won't feel like a poser either: Founder Paige Mycoskie keeps manufacturing local as one of her brand's core values. They also have great stuff for guys.
Orange County-based SlipIns began with a comfortable, fashion-forward catsuit to layer under bulky, hard-to-get-on surfing and scuba wear. Now the company has branched out into leggings for land, with a beachy twist: Each pair of Sea Legs is made from breathable, quick-drying fabric with 50 UPF+ sun protection — and in a wide variety of patterns that can only be described as Mermaid Chic.
New Jersey native Betsy Cook started sewing clothing for friends and neighbors in 2011, delivering her pieces in brown paper wrapped with string. Although National Picnic now has a devoted nationwide following, it still adheres to the same "slow fashion," locally made philosophy. The company's leggings are particularly treasured for their subdued colors, high waists, and luxurious, American-milled fabrics.
Pat Marcus founded Decent Exposures in 1986 because she couldn't find a bra that fit comfortably, especially once she became pregnant. The company's practical, fit-first approach is also evident in its leggings, which are made in Seattle like all its products. The no-frills website allows users to customize their pair by color, inseam, fabric, and other details such as ribbing.
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Managing Editor, Align
Matt Himes is the managing editor for Align.