Inside Extreme Scale Tech|Thursday, October 23, 2014
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Fashion Manufacturers Take the Catwalk Back Home 

Big name tech manufacturers aren’t the only ones looking to bring the business back to the States. In order to respond to the capricious tastes of designers, the fashion industry has begun a trend that has cut down costs as well as turnaround time.

On the catwalk, it’s either hot or not, and high end retailers must be able to keep up with changing fads to appear trendy and maintain their reputation. From a manufacturing standpoint, this means that cutting down on both middlemen and shipping time between domestic designers and foreign manufacturers can be key to maintaining one’s name in the industry.

Meanwhile, growing labor costs, high tariffs and unstable exchange rates with regard to the Chinese market are giving luxury brand names additional incentive to buy domestically.

At last week’s National Retail Federation’s annual convention, the industry reinforced this by calling on its members to do their part by supporting American-made goods. Walmart US CEO Bill Simon took the lead in a keynote speech, saying the company is buying an additional $50 billion’s worth of US products over the next ten years.

Even Brooks Brothers, representing the higher end of the retail spectrum, is jumping on the bandwagon, dedicating a section of their website solely to Made in America products. In an interview with MarketWatch, Chief Executive Claudio Del Vecchio said the company is looking to increase men’s shoes and accessories manufacturing in the US to supplement the 70 percent of suits, 100 percent of ties and 15 percent of shirts that are already made domestically.

And while luxury retailer Saks Inc. generally reserves its upscale labels to European manufacturers, it too is offering a contemporary American brand, offering a cheaper price tag for younger, hipper customers.

But for Vera Wang, even the high-end wedding gowns are made in America. “It’s almost impossible to do the dress elsewhere,” Mario Grauso told MarketWatch. “We have 12 weeks to deliver the dress. We don’t want to disappoint the bride. Our high-end customers care where it’s made.”

While many retailers pointed to the potential time and cost savings by avoiding overseas shipping and exchange rates, insourcing is not without its drawbacks. For a lingerie maker Cosabella, the sophisticated lingerie machines they need simply no longer exist in US factories. According to MarketWatch’s Andria Cheng, retailers are also struggling to find seamstresses and young workers interested in apparel manufacturing as a career path.

 

Full story at MarketWatch

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