West Elm Quietly Removes “Made In Brooklyn” Items That Weren’t Actually Made In Brooklyn

This "Made In Brooklyn" shirt was not made in Brooklyn and is no longer on the West Elm site after a news report called the retailer out for its confusing labeling.

This “Made In Brooklyn” shirt was not made in Brooklyn and is no longer on the West Elm site after a news report called the retailer out for its confusing labeling.

If a company slaps “Made In USA” on a product, it could get in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission when that product turns out to be made elsewhere. But the folks at West Elm didn’t see a problem in labeling products as “Made in Brooklyn” even when they were made elsewhere (unless China is part of Brooklyn) — at least not until the media noticed.

Yesterday, Brooklyn Paper called the home furnishings company — owned by Williams-Sonoma, Inc. — out for a trio of items with the words “Made In Brooklyn” in their design. Problem was, none of the products appeared to have been made in the NYC borough, though two of them — a T-shirt and beer growler — were labeled as Made in the U.S. The third item, a winter beanie, was made in China, according to the tag on the hat.

When confronted with this apparent contradiction by Brooklyn Paper, a West Elm rep confirmed that even the Made In U.S. items were made outside of Brooklyn, but shrugged it off and said “Made In Brooklyn” wasn’t meant to be taken literally.

“The messaging on these specific pieces was designed to be a fun nod to the potential contents,” the rep explained. “You can fill the growler with lager from Brooklyn Brewery, and the shirt and hat refer to the person wearing them.”

Cool, so I’m going to go out and make a T-shirt that declares “Nobel Prize Winner,” because hey… maybe some day all the smart people in the world will die and I’ll potentially be deserving of one of them Nobels.

But it looks like maybe West Elm is having second thoughts about the “Made In Brooklyn” products. Two of the three items mentioned in the Brooklyn Paper story — the beanie and the T-shirt — are currently nowhere to be found on the West Elm website. Only the growler remains, though it only states that it’s “Made in the U.S.A.,” without any further indication that some glassblower in Bushwick is cranking these out. And even though it’s on the site, the growler is currently no longer available for sale.

When contacted by Consumerist, a rep for West Elm explained, “We sold out of these products, which is why they are no longer online. We understand how this language could be confusing to customers, so we won’t be carrying them again in the future.”

[via Gothamist]