Domestic manufacturing is up

Bill sends word of an article appearing on CNN’s website entitled Is ‘Made in U.S.A.’ back in vogue?. Apparently, the necessity of lean and fast fashion is gaining importance for big-box apparel producers. Said manufacturers have discovered that domestic production is the best solution for rapid response. Now, what will they discover next? I’ve been saying as much to anybody who’d listen. I know on this end that production capacity at contract houses (the smaller ones anyway) has tightened considerably making it more difficult to place contracts for the smaller lines.

Yes Virginia, you can manufacture in the US, be competitive, profitable and socially responsible. It’s good to see the media has finally discovered the same. Now one can only hope said producers will stick around here and read up on ZARA’s methods for fast fashion. Also, be sure to read Bill’s take on the news in Call Kathleen … NOW!

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6 comments

  1. There may be sentiment for “made in USA” and even rationale for quicker turn times, however, the crumbling supply chain is likely going to be irreversible in the short run, which spells big issues for those attempting to produce here. Typical fabric lead times are running 5-7 weeks. Fabric manufacturers have yet to find that collaboration is the focal word in todays market. They ignore the end customer, and rarely bother to ask the apparel manufacturers deadlines for delivery. The apparel producer is saddled with cancellation dates and financial penalties for lateness, yet have you ever heard of a fabric manufacturer covering that penalty if it is their fault? Trims are another issue. We recently waited 7 weeks for two way custom dyed zippers from China, only to receive them and find they were made improperly. Again, who faces the cancellation? The apparel manufacturer.

    We manufacture domestically and also import. The time differential averages about 5-7 weeks if useing ocean freight (from Asia), but is reduced to 1-3 weeks if useing airfreight. Even with air freight higher labor or value added apparel can run 20-35% less expensive. Is it worth waiting a couple extra weeks to save 25%? More say yes than no.

    Another huge issue is the availability of non-commodity textiles. Many “European” type fabrics simply are not made in the USA, so we wind up haveing to begin with imported fabrics. Most zippers and buttons are imported, as well. So we are reduced to USA labor, at an average of $11.75 an hour versus $.35-$1.25. Any garment with more than 7 or 8 operations becomes incrimentally more expensive against the import counterpart.

  2. Kathleen says:

    Maybe it’s just confirmation bias but lately, I am continually struck by how often I’m hearing from contractors, suppliers etc, that they’re so busy. I mean, the conversation always starts the same “yeah, everything’s moved off shore, nobody’s manufacturing in the states anymore” etc etc but when you ask about their operation specifically, they all say they’re turning away work. They can’t handle all the business coming their way. I’m reminded of this after chatting with a machine dealer in CA yesterday. He says he’s sending customers to his competitors (I was trying to tempt him into writing a post for us by saying it’d be good for business). He agrees all of the growth (or resurgence) is coming from small to medium sized operations, many of whom he says had run the gauntlet of placing contracts off shore but couldn’t get it to work for them with regards to lot sizes, timeliness and -he said- quality. I don’t necessarily agree about quality tho. I’ve seen plenty of well made products coming from off shore and it only seems to improve.

  3. I am trying to tap into this domestic manufacturing business. Can you help me to understand what is domestic manufacturing. Where can I learn more about this subject?
    I am a fashion designer trying to start my own line of clothing and I need a manufacture.

  4. vee says:

    Domestic manufacturing means manufacturing your products in the United States by using sewers in the states. I am a fashion designer sewing my own hats and scarves because my girl siblings did not learn how to sew. My friends that sew do not want to be bothered. Start small.

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