Considering that the US has the world’s largest economy and is also the largest exporter and importer of goods and services globally, it is not uncommon for many to wonder why we, as a studio, have a hard time sourcing our products in the US.
We like to thoroughly look into factory conditions, quality of work, and price quotes as a company. We take great care in lacing intricacy, detail, and quality into our work and are not planning to compromise on these standards.
For the sake of our company’s reputation and the satisfaction of our customers, we are meticulous when choosing our outsourcing partners. We want to deliver nothing short of the best, and unfortunately, it has been hard for us to keep our standards when producing in the US.
A few reasons for this include:
Lack of skills and proper machinery
- Lack of expertise: Years ago, I visited a factory in Mumbai, India, this factory produced for IKEA. I was taken to an area where workers were only practicing certain operations. I was told this area was a training place for new employees, and on that week the workers were practicing sewing a denim pocket with a high level of construction complexity. They told me the training usually lasts weeks, months, or until the sewers can connect their brains with the ability of their hands, know as muscle memory, which allows them to get very good at sewing certain operations through repetition. I wish we had that type of commitment here at our US factories. This would allow us to improve the quality of samples and production of our US made apparel in a great way.
- Appropriate tools: The complexity of some styles plays a big part of deciding if a product fits US production or overseas. At our studio, we produce all kinds of outdoor, athletic apparel as a big part of our expertise for apparel development. These pieces are complex, sometimes they might have 30 or close to 50 plus different sewing operations and most of the time they require engineered cutting, laser cutting and other types of advance cutting-edge machinery. Some or most of the factories here in the US don’t offer these kinds of operations and in consequence their workers are not trained to utilize these complex tools, which forces us to produce overseas.
Deplorable Factory Conditions
In our search to find the optimal outsourcing partner, we have toured worldwide and multiple continents. Factory conditions are the first sign of how your outsourcing partner will treat your products. It is a definite telltale of the quality of treatment your project will receive.
Unfortunately, some of the US factories, especially the ones in LA, lack the proper conditions a factory should have, and this includes:
- Unhygienic work conditions:
Few years ago, I was producing a collection in LA. The agent I had contracted to help me place the productions in different factories, kept trying to prevent me from visiting the actual factories. I insisted many times and finally I was able to visit them. I will never forget when I entered this factory, where all around me was dirt, scraps of fabrics, and other materials on the floors, and workstations. Everything looked disorganized, dirty, and displaced. To my surprised, in one of the rooms, I saw a baby girl not older than one year old, she was by herself and crying. I asked the manager, why was the baby there, by herself. I shared my concern of how dirty everything looked around the baby. That was evidently not a place for a child. They told me she was a child of one of the workers, and nothing else was said about it, in fact, they did not like when I asked about the condition of the factory, and about the baby being there. I know it wasn’t my business, but it was then when I decided not to do business with these factories.
The overall condition of this factory was deplorable, and seeing the baby crying in those conditions, just hurt my heart. Unfortunately, in most cases, workers who work at these factories are minorities who lack of education, lack of opportunities, and resources, some of them work illegally, and most often are forced to work in poor environments under deplorable conditions since they have no other options. This situation does not happen only in some US factories but happens also around the world. Therefore, we take pride in only working with factories who make environmental conditions a priority.
That day I visited about five factories around LA and most of them had poor environmental conditions. My productions did not achieve the level of quality I needed, and this is when I lost all confident in US factories, especially the ones in LA.
I was astonished to see factories in conditions as this were able to be open for business.
I know this is not the condition of all the factories in the US. Many factories are trying to keep acceptable conditions and work hard to maintain good environmental conditions.
But many factories are not adequately maintained and cleaned regularly. This results in dirty workstations and an unclean factory overall. Having garments made in situations like that would not sit right with any reputable company, especially when it violates specific health hazards. The product being sold to the customer needs to meet certain checks before it is sold, and cleanliness is one of the primary ones. The idea of having any of our products manufactured by these means is a major no.
This is a call to politicians and the government to help better the conditions of our factories in the US so more brands and companies can produce in these factories and feel they are treating their employees fairly, and producing the highest quality products possible.
Lack of Proper Customer Care Services
Another problem with the US outsourcing market is that many companies are negligent in their customer care services and do not prioritize the customer’s needs and demands. The administration, too, is not very motivated to comply, making them disagreeable partners to work with. Since this is a big business and the production of the products is an integral part of the business, it is best to work with partners that are agreeable and customer friendly.
Poor Work Ethic
Another problem while working with US companies is that the work ethic is not always up to the mark as well. Product manufacturing deadlines are often not met. The quality of work is often much less than what was promised and expected.
The presented prototypes are poor in quality, and the attention to detail is missing. This is a big reason why US companies are, most of the time, not good partners to outsource to because the quality of your product will represent your company and determine whether you will have more customers in the future.
These are some of the reasons why we are currently very careful with who we make part of our team of factories in the US. We know we’re not the only ones with this issue, read about trading companies having the same issues with US factories here. At Savvy Apparel Studio, we care that the needs of our customers are met to the highest degree. Thus, until these standards are met, and the working conditions are improved, we will be extremely careful to who we contract and won’t be collaborating with any US companies in a current deplorable, poor condition. We hope these conditions change soon in the US for some of these factories, we want this so much, but for right now, the nature of our developments, most of the time, have a certain high complexity, especially the athletic apparel products, and we have no other option than to produce overseas.
If you’re looking for US production, let us help you assess your project. Please email us your project details here
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