The effects of COVID-19 have made it far more difficult for brands to increase production. However, there have been a number of companies in the U.S. that have found local manufacturing to have a stronger demand than ever.
According to Amy Smilovic, founder of Tibi. “You cannot produce clothing in the United States, and that’s a problem. When I started in Hong Kong some years ago, my factory looked like IBM’s headquarters. It was clean, it was modern, every floor had a different stage of the production process, and it all looked amazing. I couldn’t believe when I moved back to New York and looked at manufacturing here. There’s no high-end manufacturing here like there is in China or Italy or Turkey. There are some places that can do it well, but you can count them on one hand. In Italy, it’s an entire section of the phonebook.”
Manufacturing in the U.S. has been on a steady and steep decline since the 1960s with numbers going down from 28% to 8% as of 2017. It looks as though there could be a resurgence in manufacturing jobs native in the U.S. “One of the advantages of American manufacturing is that you can pivot so much faster,” said the founder of Senza Tempo, Kristen Fanarakis. “I had planned [to roll out] all these separates for around this time, things for wearing to the office — which is obviously a no-go now. But thankfully, my atelier in Los Angeles was able to switch gears really fast, and we pivoted over to sundresses and some comfortable stuff in a matter of weeks. It’s not always easy manufacturing here, but it’s paid off now.”
However, it could take some time to match up to the infrastructure that China and Italy have taken on. While the U.S. can handle smaller-scale manufacturing, it's yet to regain any of the prowess of its past.
“Brands that are more niche and only ship a few thousand things per month are a perfect fit for American-made,” said Ari Jogiel, founder of his namesake brand based out of Los Angeles.
“I will never move [manufacturing from] the U.S., for personal reasons,” Fanarakis continued. “But the amount that I can scale is dependent on what I can make here. Especially if you want to make a huge amount of stuff, the U.S. just doesn’t have the infrastructure.”
Information originally sourced from Glossy.