WILL MASS APPAREL MANUFACTURING RETURN TO THE USA?
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.”
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.”
(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
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.”
Independent Fashion Design Consultant (USA)