Monday, February 21, 2011

Made in … The United States?

Andrew Rosen, President and Chief Executive Officer of Theory, is in negotiations with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to establish a "one-stop manufacturing facility" in New York City’s Garment District. This facility would give designers a multitude of services right at their fingertips. "This would be a place for designers to come and create. That’s more important than giving them money," Rosen remarked.

The building would incorporate grading, marking, cutting, pattern making and manufacturing. With the opening of the facility, it would be a great way to fully compete with the Asian market.

On February 11, 2011, Rosen and a group of major fashion players, including J Brand’s Jeff Rudes and Tommy Hilfiger, discussed the possibilities of the opening of this facility as well as the other great opportunities it could bring to the United States in front of a group of students at the New School. Some of the topics and ideas discussed were:

  • Connecting with Apple and other technology companies may segue into advancements in fashion production that would possibly help make the United States more competitive with the Asian market.
  • Developing more technically advanced fabrics.
  • Setting up a conglomerate of apparel executives who choose to mentor anyone who might need advice in the ever-growing fashion industry.

With a number of United States' designers creating sample runs in the country, but mass manufacturing over seas, the idea would be to eventually have them finish here in the United States as well. "There’s a huge advantage to [manufacturing] locally," American designer, Rogan Gregory, explained. “The speed-to-market is so much faster and minimums aren't anywhere near what they do over seas."

Tommy Hilfiger expressed to the panel more about the financial and technological viewpoints of having this facility open. "If we had an infusion of technology, people would then come to America from all over the world to produce clothes," Hilfiger said. Rudes added that, "just as iPad readers can now touch an image of an outfit and be directed to a site that sells it, the evolution of technology stands to be a major plus for the apparel industry."

Does the United States stand a chance at convincing designers to discontinue outsourcing and manufacture locally? Its still too soon to tell, but there is a chance. Even if it's hanging on by a thread.

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