WILL MASS AP­PAREL MAN­U­FAC­TUR­ING RE­TURN TO THE USA?

Stitch World - - SW POLL -

Re­cent de­vel­op­ments in ‘On-De­mand’ ap­parel man­u­fac­tur­ing in the USA have sent a strong mes­sage to the rest of the world that the US is do­ing bet­ter than ex­pected. How­ever, when it comes to ‘Mass Ap­parel Man­u­fac­tur­ing’, the sit­u­a­tion be­comes doubt­ful.

“It’s pos­si­ble only with mas­sive in­vest­ment in new tech­nolo­gies to re­place the an­ti­quated man­u­fac­tur­ing sys­tems. As labour is al­ready tight in the US, au­to­ma­tion of labour, mostly sewing, is the key. IoT/dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion of fac­to­ries is also needed (which is hap­pen­ing too) to com­pete with low-wage coun­tries and the USA man­u­fac­tur­ers have to be price-com­pet­i­tive while of­fer­ing lower de­vel­op­ment costs, quicker de­liv­ery, and lower trans­port costs. Plus, the cost of do­ing busi­ness in Asian coun­tries is not go­ing down. Look at China. I saw a re­cent sta­tis­tics which showed that Chi­nese labour is now more ex­pen­sive than Mex­ico.”

Greg Hath­cox

Co-Founder and Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent, TexTempo (USA) “Mass man­u­fac­tur­ing is un­likely to re­turn to the USA. There are var­i­ous rea­sons be­hind it as con­cepts like on­de­mand, made-to-mea­sure, and be­spoke tai­lor­ing are rapidly in­creas­ing in the USA; fac­tory area is not large; mi­cro­fac­to­ries are be­ing set up and most of the man­u­fac­tur­ing units are work­ing with just 40-100 sewing ma­chines which do not give pos­i­tive vibes when we talk about mass man­u­fac­tur­ing.”

Deepak Mo­hin­dra

Edi­tor-In-Chief

(Ap­parel Online and StitchWorld), Ap­parel Re­sources (In­dia) “We believe the old fac­to­ries with hun­dreds of work­ers mak­ing ‘3 in a pack­age’ T-shirts and tube socks will never be seen again in the US. How­ever, what will even­tu­ally rise are small nim­ble ‘mass-cus­tomi­sa­tion’ fac­to­ries ca­pa­ble of a wide range of prod­ucts de­signed or per­son­alised by the cus­tomer. Think of these fac­to­ries as large com­put­ers, able to make cloth­ing the way the cus­tomer wants, in their ex­act size, and de­liv­er­ing it di­rectly at their door. Clearly the industry is in tur­moil and ripe for busi­ness model changes – we have clung to ‘that’s the way we have al­ways done it’ for far too long now”.

J. Kirby Best

Chair­man,

On­point Man­u­fac­tur­ing, Inc. (USA) “First of all, USA lacks a uni­fied in­fra­struc­ture to ac­com­plish more as­pects of ap­parel pro­duc­tion. For ex­am­ple, China and In­dia have ar­eas that en­com­pass tex­tile pro­duc­tion, dye houses, and cut/sew man­u­fac­tur­ers. It can sort of be all done in the whole she­bang. While in USA, we would have to send goods back and forth to cre­ate var­i­ous steps. By the time it com­pletes, we might as well have made them in an over­seas coun­try. Once we have more fa­cil­i­ties, the pro­duc­tion will be­gin to flow back.”

Kather­ine Schild­meyer

In­de­pen­dent Fash­ion De­sign Con­sul­tant (USA)

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