I got a letter from David Rushton who works in sales for a contract garment manufacturer in Toronto Canada. He offers a tremendous amount of information to designers and this post details some of the benefits of sourcing in Canada. David says in part:
I have been working as a sales development manager for almost 12 years. I have had a great deal of experience dealing with DE’s here in Canada and assisting them with production of their lines. I derive a lot of personal satisfaction from working with these burgeoning companies, and feel that the more they know about the process of manufacture, they will be much better equipped going forward. I try to make time for every new startup. I make a point of treating all with a certain amount of reverence. These small upstarts grow into larger companies. Most will need a manufacturing partner(s) to help them achieve their goals. I believe that the Canadian garment manufacturing industry is well suited to meet the needs of this important group.
It would seem that sourcing both fabrics and labor are a large concern with many of your readers. Many in the US think that Mexico and Central America are the closest sources for production but this isn’t quite true. I just returned from a sourcing show in NYC (Material World) in which we exhibited. We were encouraged by the new business we will develop, but at the same time, amazed at the lack of exposure we receive as a garment producing nation.
While I am well acquainted with the cachet of Canadian manufacturing, I doubt that many of my readers are. Let’s put it this way. As you know, suit making AKA single-needle is the litmus test of world class manufacturing capability and Canada predominates in that area. I’m continually surprised that DEs don’t know that that Canada is the place to have suits manufactured. Companies manufacturing there are comprised of designers such as Georgio Armani, Hugo Boss, Ungaro, Louis Feraud, Robert Stalk, Samuel Sohn and Pierre Cardin. In other words, Canadians are internationally respected as equals -some say better- to Italian makers. Still, while suits are not the only thing made in Canada, the product lines are definitely from the mid to higher end lines. As David puts it, “the same quality that goes into a $1500.00 suit, easily finds its way into a $300.00 parka”.
Although quality is the first thing one sources, David says the benefits of sourcing with Canadian firms transcend that. Specifically, the benefits are these:
2. Terms of trade
3. Shared language and cultural history
4. Established relationships with US mills and suppliers
5. Proximity and accessibility
6. Response time
7. Lower transaction costs
8. Lower shipping costs
I haven’t been able to pull this post together today but I’ll be discussing each of these factors more completely tomorrow. In the meantime -and in preparation for tomorrow’s post, please visit the Canadian Apparel Federation and register! While access to the CAF database is free, it will take 24 to 48 hours to have your membership approved. Once approved, you’ll be able to take advantage of all the resources I’ll be describing tomorrow. I’ll also be recommending their magazine which I’ve subscribed to for years. While their magazine still focuses on the big players in the industry, the topics of discussion are much more appropriate for entrepreneurs than what we typically find in the US press.