United States of America has the largest and most technologically advanced and powerful economy in the world. Many apparel and garment products are outsourced, owing to the availability of cheaper labor and low cost manufacturing options, and are sold in America. The major countries US outsources manufacturing of readymade garments to are China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Mexico, and India.


According to UN Comtrade 2013, these top six suppliers constitute 68% of readymade garments exports to the US. The country has always been a major hub for fashion and is home to big fashion houses like Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, and Donna Karen. But none of the brands manufacture complete 100% of their products in the USA.


The recent collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh has raised serious concerns among American consumers, as to where and how their garments get manufactured, and have added to the existing demand for garments made in USA.


As surprising as it may sound, there is a continual rise in the demand of garments made out and out in America. Consumers these days are well aware and want to know where their clothes are made? How are they made? Where is the fabric spun, cut, and stitched? Is it organic or made in an environment friendly way? This has led garment manufacturers to consider the option of developing products from start to finish within the country itself.


In a study by the Consumer Reports National Research Centre showed that, 78% Americans preferred buying a product that bears a made in USA label than one made overseas. And as a part of the survey, it was also reported that 60% Americans described reasons as concerns regarding child workers and other poor working conditions, and thought American manufactured products of high quality.


Apart from these concerns, the recession struck America is having a flat recovery. Getting products manufactured outside the country and outsourcing jobs has all come at a price for the US. This is also motivating entrepreneurs and small scale units to begin manufacturing of garments in the country to create employment opportunities and improve the economy.


Another tipping point for the demand of made in USA garments is achieving desired quality in garments. And for this consumers are ready to pay a premium price. Moreover, since the middle class section in China is rising, so are the prices of labor. Hence China as a cost effective outsourcing destination will slowly erode away.

 

Manufacturing garments in America also possess new challenges. For example, the Federal Trade Commission has extremely strict rules and regulations for labeling in garments. Only if all the parts, process, and labor used to manufacture a piece of garment is done wholly and solely in America, only then can it bear the 'Made in USA' tag. Domestic manufacturing will consequently push the prices of garments high but deliver better quality at the same time. However, a recent survey by the Boston Consulting Group reported 80% Americans are willing to pay more for 'Made in America' products. Another study showed that three out of four Americans believed in buying garments manufactured domestically, even if it meant paying a little more.


There are a few truly American brands that have lived the current dream of manufacturing all within the country. American Apparel, an American stock listed company that owns 260 stores worldwide across 19 countries and has created jobs for more than 5000 people. Similarly, True Religion, a $400 million company, that manufactures luxury denims in Los Angeles (LA), and has 125 retail stores across 50 countries. It can be concluded that 'Made in USA' garments are products of choices of not just consumers back home but also popular among overseas consumers.


With global giants like Wal-Mart investing huge sums of money in driving the 'Made in America' movement by manufacturing products, it is likely that soon there will be enough supply for the rising demand. Garment retailers like Nordstrom and Macy's have a dedicated space in physical stores or a section in online stores for domestically produced garments. The reason being the soaring demands and consumers not hesitating to pay even a little more for these products.


Under the Obama administration's National Export Initiative, that targets to double the exports of garments by 2014, the garment and apparel industry is definitely going to boost. There are initiatives taken by the Los Angeles government to promote LA based brands locally and around the world. They have an online resource guide that dispenses information on all kinds of textile material sourcing and keeps a database of details of LA based manufacturers.

 

Supportive government initiatives, rise in investment by companies, a talented pool of designers and entrepreneurs, and most importantly a rising demand for garments made in the US locally and worldwide, are raising the value of manufactured apparels and garments domestically. In the coming years American manufacturers hope to increase their competitive advantage and begin production of garments and apparels in their homeland to meet the increasing demands.


References:


1.      Bizmology.hoovers.com

2.      Madeinusa.itradegood.com

3.      Myuswlocal.org

4.      Textileworld.com

Image Courtesy:


1.      Turbandiva.com

2.      Ecouterre.com