When the corona virus’s glimpse of clothing making became apparent, brands around the world had to excel from factory closures, achieving a complicated balance between ordering enough inventory to survive but not so much that it was a huge financial burden.
For many brands in the US, the process is made easier with the flexibility and agility provided by manufacturers locally. But not all brands are given that luxury. Over the past few decades, American fashion manufacturing has greatly declined, due to availability lower cost and better quality manufacturing elsewhere.
“You can’t produce clothes in the United States, and that’s a problem,” said Amy Smilovic, founder of Tibi. “When I started in Hong Kong a few years ago, my factory looked like IBM’s headquarters. It’s clean, modern, each floor has different stages of the production process, and everything looks amazing. I could not believe it when I moved back to New York and saw manufacturing here. There is no top class manufacturing here like in China or Italy or Turkey. There are a number of places that can do this well, but you can count them on one side. In Italy, this is all part of the telephone book. “
Jens Grede, founder of Frame, told Shiny podcast that bringing manufacturing back to America is very important for brands to avoid the inventory problems that many face now. But manufacturing employment in the US rose from 28% in 1960 to 8% in 2017. China, on the other hand, has seen massive growth in apparel manufacturing, growing 5% per year from 2014 to 2019. At present, Chinese factories bring more than $ 380 billion in annual revenue.
With more brands to question Past dependence on a country like China for manufacturing, and a growing trust that shortened lead time and less inventory is the key to avoiding heavy losses during the crisis, the rise of American manufacturing is in high demand.
“One of the advantages of American manufacturing is that you can spin faster,” said Kristen Fanarakis, founder of the contemporary brand Senza Tempo. “I have planned [to roll out] all of this apart for around this time, things to wear to the office – which obviously shouldn’t be done now. But thankfully, my atelier in Los Angeles was able to change gears very quickly, and we switched to evening gowns and some comfortable items in a matter of weeks. It’s not always easy to produce here, but it pays off now. “
Manufacturing waiting times, from initial product development to delivered products, can arrive three months In China. Fanarakis said his factory had reduced production due to the corona virus, reducing employee capacity by about one third and cutting their hours so that no one was traveling during peak hours. But the resulting delay is not in vain, because of the relatively fast access to the product.
Haverhill Leach, founder of the jewelry brand Haverhill Collection, said that when he first heard his Rhode Island factory was closed, he spent more than $ 20,000 on orders for giant components, including silver chains and thousands of stones. He took them to his home, which is also in Rhode Island, along with some manufacturing equipment to weld and cut pieces. She and her husband can collect and complete ordered items from home. Leach said sales of specialty items have tripled in the last two months, being able to offer a much shorter turnaround time just in time for Mother’s Day, one of the biggest brand days for sales.
“We cannot do that otherwise, if our factory is in China,” Leach said.
But manufacturing in America has a price. Without strong infrastructure from manufacturing centers such as China and Italy, there are limits on how many brands dedicated to manufacturing in the US can actually produce. Fanarakis said if you want to produce on a small scale or make something as simple as a T-shirt, you might be able to find someone in the US who can do it for you. But there is no clothing factory that can offer the type of volume or complexity of products that can be done by large Chinese factories.
“A brand that is more niche and only sends a few thousand items per month is perfect for American-made,” said Ari Jogiel, founder of an eponymous manufacturing company that manufactures clothing for brands in Los Angeles.
“I will never move [manufacturing from] The US, for personal reasons, “Fanarakis added.” But the amount I can make depends on what I can produce here. Especially if you want to produce a lot of goods, the US does not have the infrastructure. “
Both Fanarakis and Smilovic said, to start in the US to take off, more needs to be done than just a few brands making small batches of products in the states and CFDA issued a non-committal statement about the importance of manufacturing locally.
“You really have to have everyone in it,” Fanarakis said. “The government needs to provide incentives for him. At present, there are no cost or tax incentives for manufacturing in the US, which conflicts with China or elsewhere. And if you want people to make it here, you have to give it an incentive. That’s Econ 101. “
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