It’s hard to name a more iconic American product than blue jeans.

During the past 100 years, communities across the United States have helped transform the American blue jean into an international apparel must-have. This includes Greensboro, North Carolina, home to Kontoor Brands and its Wrangler and Lee brands. This is why people smile when Greensboro is often referred to as “Jeansboro.”

While the iconic American blue jean is now manufactured and sold around the world, many apparel brands, like Kontoor’s Wrangler and Lee brands, still depend on American workers to produce the component materials used in the jeans we wear.

Today, American farmers and workers grow cotton and make buttons, rivets, snaps, pocketing, labels, packaging and yarn to make jeans worn by families and workers across the country, sustaining jobs for tens of thousands of Americans. At Kontoor, we rely on nearly 75 small businesses across the U.S. that employ hardworking Americans to produce pieces for our jeans.

For example, a pair of Wrangler jeans assembled in one of our owned and operated facilities in Mexico uses cotton from Texas, fabrics and zippers from Georgia, and sewing threads from North Carolina. Once assembled, the jeans are returned to the U.S. duty-free for sale to customers across all 50 states at an affordable price.

Our ability to support American jobs, as well as the jobs of our U.S. suppliers who provide materials that are used in our products, is made possible thanks to the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Without free trade within our hemisphere, our brands could not produce the 65 million units of apparel, annually, in North America that we do today.

As job creators, we believe in free trade and support the passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the proposed successor to NAFTA.

The duty-free access that USMCA provides is vital to local economies and our ability to compete with low-cost products in other parts of the world.

The ratification of USMCA will provide tremendous economic value to U.S. communities, in fact, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission, USMCA would raise U.S. employment by 176,000 jobsThis means that, on top of protecting the 75,000 jobs that already depend on free trade, USMCA will provide new opportunities for Americans in communities across the country.  

These are real benefits for people in real communities.

Americans who produce the components to our jeans deserve job security and consumers WANT these same high-quality products at affordable prices. USMCA will help deliver on these expectations.

We urge our lawmakers in Washington to vote for communities across our country and vote YES on USMCA. Doing so will help us continue the tradition of American production in support of iconic denim apparel we all know and love.

Scott Deitz is Vice President, Investor & Corporate Relations of Kontoor Brands, Inc.