More than three-quarters of affluent consumers prefer brands made in America—up 5 percentage points from 2008, according to a 2011 study by American Express Publishing and the Harrison Group. In a different survey in April, the United States ranked highest on an index measuring the quality of its luxury goods, achieving a score of 267 (compared with an average of 100) and outranking Italy and France, which host swanky labels like Salvatore Ferragamo and Hermes, respectively. While so-called “blue-collar” manufacturers like Chrysler and Levi Strauss have long leveraged patriotism to move product, this is a fairly new phenomenon for the luxury sector.

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Photo by Sarah Korf

Whether we can credit the scathing indictments of fast fashion in recent media reports or a post-recession increase in mindful spending, it’s undeniable that the “Made in America” label has transformed from rah-rah to covetable seemingly overnight.

The “Made in America” label has suddenly transformed from rah-rah to covetable seemingly overnight.

Beyond the U.S.’s reputation for quality manufacturing and better working conditions—check Goodguide to see how your favorite brands measure up—Americans are also questioning how their purchases affect the economy. “Made in America feeds into the values proposition,” Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing, told Bloomberg News. “They are voting with their money not just for U.S. jobs, but for a way of life. In 2007, they were on a spending jag—they weren’t thinking about things like this.”

Now we’re seeing popular brands like Brooks Brothers and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’sThe Row use the same type of marketing angle. A decade ago, for instance, Brooks Brothers only made a few items in the U.S. Today, it’s a “large percentage,” according to CEO Claudio Del Vecchio.

It’s the perfect strategy: Patriots buy into the American-made image the label conjures up, social activists find value in the U.S. labor laws that protect workers’ rights, and environmentalists love the low-energy impact of domestic production. We expect New York City’s Garment District to be bustling.

[Via Bloomberg News]