The fabric in Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" hats tells a complicated tale.
Employees of Cali-Fame, which makes the Trump campaign hats, told The Associated Press that the hats were stitched together in the United States but made from imported materials. That practice would violate their Made in USA labeling. But the company's owner contradicted those statements with certificates showing he had purchased domestic fabric.
In an attempt to resolve the differing statements, the AP sought the help of a forensic textile analyst.
To do the microscopic analysis, the AP obtained samples directly from the fabric supplier that the factory owner said the factory always uses, Carr Textile. The samples were of the same red polyester-cotton blended fabric that the factory owner said was in the hats: one fabric type imported and one U.S.-made. The AP asked Deborah Young, a professor of textiles and clothing at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, to compare two Trump hats that the AP had purchased from the campaign website with the fabric samples. The AP did not identify the fabric samples to prevent bias.
Her conclusion: The material in one Trump hat was inconsistent with either Carr sample. The pattern of the weave was noticeably different, later confirmed by the AP using a school-grade microscope: All Carr-made Saxtwill fabric is a 2/1 weave; the other Trump hat was a 3/1 pattern weave.
"There's no way this hat was made out of either (Carr) sample," Young said.
The analysis was not able to determine where the fabric in that hat actually came from, whether U.S.-made or foreign-made, and by whom.
Young said the other "Make America Great Again" hat that the AP had also purchased from Trump's campaign could have come from either the U.S.-made Carr fabric, from Carr's cheaper imported fabric, or from an entirely different source.
After receiving Young's opinion, the AP bought an additional three hats from the Trump campaign for review. Those were also compatible with both Carr's Saxtwill and the cheaper fabric that Carr imports.