Apparel Manufacturing in New Jersey

You need a license to manufacture sewn products in three US states; NY, CA and NJ. I wrote about New York and California (twice) before but finding the information for licensing in NJ has been a real pickle. None of my search terms turned up anything. However, I thought to search my desktop just certain I’d come across it before and sure enough, I found a pdf of the license application. From the title of the document, I was finally able to find the information on the state of NJ website.

Other than the obvious -“Contracting for the performance of an apparel industry service with a manufacturer or contractor who is known to have failed to register or renew its registration, or whose registration has been revoked”- constitutes a violation. In other words, you are required to check whether someone has a license and that they are in good standing. Similarly (as I’ve said ad nauseum) you are legally a manufacturer even if you don’t own a single sewing machine. If you’re looking for a “manufacturer” to produce your products, that means you’re looking for a competitor and why would you do that?

In assessing penalties, the NJ law goes one step further than NY and CA. The latter two states will confiscate finished goods from those deemed to be in violation of the law. NJ will confiscate “any partially or completely assembled articles of apparel and any equipment used in the assembly of apparel from any manufacturer or contractor. Ouch! Bye bye sewing machines.

Fees and testing:
The cost of NJ licensing is $300 per year with the date of renewal being the 15th of January. However, they will prorate the first year if the registration is for a period of less than twelve months. I find no mention of required testing such as that required in California.

Potential sources of confusion:
The landing page states that “No manufacturer or contractor shall engage in the making, cutting, sewing, finishing, assembling, pressing or otherwise producing of apparel, designed or intended to be worn by any individual and sold or offered for sale” but the abstract (pdf) of chapter 458 says “No manufacturer or contractor shall engage in the apparel industry in this State…” with no other qualifiers. Does this mean that if one is making baby blankets or dog collars, that they don’t need a license? Or, is “apparel industry” intended to include sewn products as well? I suppose one could split hairs on a technicality but who knows how it’d end up.

Unlike the California law, it makes no mention of people who sew from home. It is brief, saying

“Contractor” shall include, but is not limited to, a subcontractor, jobber or wholesaler, but shall not include a production employee employed for wages who does not employ others.

There’s a complete listing of statutes governing the apparel industry. Conveniently enough, all sections are live links. Oh, and navigate away from any given sidebar on the NJ page to your peril. You won’t find your place again. Leave this open on your desktop to get back to where you were. The bread crumbs and sub menus are close to useless. Odd that, the site looks so organized.

If you’re looking for a contractor in NJ, they couldn’t make it any easier to find one. To get the complete listing, leave the form entirely blank and hit submit. Heck, there’s even a button to download the database. Unfortunately, the database doesn’t list whether an enterprise is in violation. You have to call them, which you should be anyway to get your own license. Unless of course, you don’t live there but then again, the state is silent about that too. NY doesn’t require you to have a license if you’re a foreign entity but California does.

Pending questions:
The office that provides information wouldn’t answer my questions because I wasn’t seeking a license. Once I explained why I wanted the information, they (very cordially) referred me to their media relations department. Said individual didn’t have the answer to my three questions (below) but promised to get back to me within no defined time frame. I intend no offense directed towards the state of NJ but I don’t know how long that’ll take. CA never called me back and NY took a week. I will amend this entry when I hear back. My remaining three questions are:

  1. Is it legal to employ people to sew at home?
  2. Do non-residents (foreign entities) need a license?
  3. Does this licensing requirement apply to producers of sewn products?

Feel free to add any questions you may have.

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  1. kaaren hoback says:

    Re question #3
    quote from the NJ site you included: “No manufacturer or contractor shall engage in the making, cutting, sewing, finishing, assembling, pressing or otherwise producing of apparel, designed or intended to be WORN by any individual and sold or offered for sale for that purpose in the State of New Jersey unless they are registered with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.”

    I capitolized what appears to be The key word -WORN. Are dog beds, pot holders, table runners, quilts and or bed linen, back packs, luggage,purses considered worn? Is a dog,cat or horse an “individual” if it wears a coat?

    Seems there are a lot of loopholes in this statement which lacks clear definition and loads of room for “abuse” of the very people they seem to be trying to protect.

    A good attorney would have a blast with this case.

    Kaaren Hoback

  2. Teijo says:

    “…designed or intended to be WORN by any individual AND sold or offered for sale for that purpose in the State of New Jersey…” defines an individual as “a single human being”. If the above snippet is borrowed verbatim from the rule itself, it would logically seem to apply only to items that are offered for sale within New Jersey for human beings to wear.

    Unless, of course, New Jersey means “individual” in the biological sense of “a single organism capable of independent existence” – in which case it would be interesting to see what other rights and responsibilities it lays on e.g. dachshunds, amoebas and newts.

    Then again, if the state’s definition is “a distinct, indivisible entity; a single thing, being, instance, or item”, all laws that use the term will naturally also apply to barbie dolls, pet rocks and groceries. I’d very much like to be a juror in a vehemently argued trial whose verdict hinges on whether a milk carton is wearing a shopping bag when you take it home, or whether it is just lying inside…

  3. Jenn R says:

    I’m a NJ newbie here, and have enjoyed reading your posts.

    Regarding the legality of employing people to sew at home in NJ, I can tell you that it may also depend on the zoning of their homes. For instance, my NJ home is in a zone that will not allow any manufacturing whatsoever. I can design and make samples, but can’t produce any garments for resale in my home.

    My contact is only in on Tuesdays, but I’ll see if I can get any answers to Kathleen’s unresolved questions.

    (Thanks for the NJ contractor info, Kathleen!)

  4. FRED FARZAN says:

    Hi, can you tell me how can i get the list of all Apparel manufacturers and sewing contractors and textile manufacturers in NY and NJ. I know how for CA by going to labor web site and there it was the database. Please help, Sincerely FRED

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