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UK and US Retrieve Apparel Manufacturing, or Revive Once Again?

UK and US retrieve manufacturing: they train their own garment workers at home. The retailers in the apparel chain judge each reason for cost increase: raw materials price, prolonged formalities of the customs and unreliable energy supply, unstable management quality, industry or regime unrest, morality, health and safety regulations, transportation cost arising from fluctuations in petroleum price and environmental impactsĄ­ For all these factors, offshore costs for clothing are increased and the period of clothing manufacturing is prolonged. Maybe it is a solution to retrieve manufacturing at home.

In fact, developed economies are reviewing and revising the past strategies of "deindustrialization" and "demanufacturing" after financial crisises, "reindustrialization" has become a common strategy choice of many developed countries, and some large-scale and influential retailers and brand merchants are too seeking the development of manufacturing bases closer to consumption markets actively. The first step that they will take is to train new generation of technical workers.

The shortage of skilled technical workers is a major factor to impede the manufacturing recovery in the countries such as US, UK and Hong Kong region. There were 800,000 workers in the 80's in textile and garment industry in the UK, which decreases to 100,000 workers at present.

The power of speech of fashion is controlled firmly by designers, marketers. No one will think that it is "sexy" to provide masterly clothing technology.

How can more garment workers be trained in the locality?

Maybe it is worth learning that Jenny Holloway developed the Fashion Enter Project in the north of London. In 2006, the founder set up a clothing manufacturing base and recognized practice model in a small town (Haringey), which enabled the local unemployed young to have opportunities to obtain actual skill training. Under the support of the Council of the town, she persuaded ASOS, John Lewis and Marks & Spencer to make investments in the manufacturing base and apprenticeship program. It was the most important that they placed partial garment orders in addition and attempted the manufacturing there.

A certain results were achieved after the efforts of enterprises and social teams.

However, the creation of a new generation of workers still requires the support of the government of a country, such as resumption of the curriculums of needle sewing schools and promotion of apprenticeship program across the country.

It is also required that the fashion agencies as influential as the British Fashion Council acknowledge the importance of manufacturing to fashion in the climate of opinion. The municipal government of New York and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) took the lead in this respect. They established the Fashion Manufacturing Initiative ("FMI") Foundation to revive "lost artistic sewing skills" and vitalize the apparel manufacturing in New York.

It is easily expected that escalating garment price is inevitable in the long period in the future ¨C the pressure of cost increase will have to be digested in apparel manufacturing by raising the selling prices of products.

In the apparel manufacturing supply chain, Chinese manufacturing still takes the top spot in the world; however, the manufacturing of the third world countries such as Bengal and Cambodia is too overwhelmingly dominant and it is difficult that "sweat factories" behind fashion disappear at present when the global demand slows down and fast fashion and discount retailers prevail. On the other hand, the gap of manufacturing cost between developed economies and developing countries narrows, which will cause some companies to return their factories to their native countries or the places closer to consumers.

Meanwhile, the political desire and demand for small batch high-quality clothing of retailers will bring native clothing factories that respond rapidly and work flexibly and maybe it is expected by us to witness that the clothing manufacturing in such countries as UK and US will revive once again.

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