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J.C. Penney: T-Shirt Malarkey

When "American Made" doesn't mean made in America

J.C. Penney (JCP) says it's a case of a misunderstood message. Over Memorial Day weekend, the retail chain ran ads for a T-shirt with "American Made" printed on the front. In Dallas, Joe Allen, 78, a retired clothing manufacturer, rushed out to buy some. Allen, who says his company was forced out of the industry because of outsourcing, was thrilled to see a retailer promoting domestically produced apparel. At the store, though, he learned from the tag that the shirt was made in Mexico (from U.S. fabric). "I made a little bit of a scene," he admits, then went home and contacted the Alliance for American Manufacturing, which e-mailed J.C. Penney to complain that the T-shirt's slogan was "deceptive." The chain's reply: "American Made" refers to "the actual person wearing the shirt," a spokeswoman wrote back, "not to the manufacturing of the merchandise." J.C. Penney told BusinessWeek it will sell the shirts throughout the summer. The line, it says, is "intended to evoke our American lifestyle and pride in being American."

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