Monday, May 20, 2013

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Fashion Law

International Production: Fashion's Trip Around the World--

Over the last few weeks, there have been numerous reports about the conditions of textile factories.  These establishments have had subpar working conditions and are havens for unruly demands upon the workforce.  The impact on the labor force is major.  Workers in Zara's Argentinean factory were working 16 hours with no break, in dimly lit spaces.  Children worked there, too.  Moving production is definitely now a consideration.  A Bangladesh factory, riddled with code violations and poor working conditions collapsed in late April.  A worker was found in the wreckage a few weeks later.

The impact on the fashion industry is major, too.  Factories are shifting production to other countries because of rising wages and labor shortages in China.  China has long been an international capital of clothing production, but a shift appears to be afoot.  Lever Style, founded in Hong Kong, produces attire for a number of American apparel companies.  Their employee count has dropped by 1/3 in the last 2 years.  Like other garment manufacturers and designer brands, other locations for production are catching their eye. 

Coach is shifting production to other countries, reducing reliance on China. Nordstrom is moving to India. They have 450 factories on 40 countries.  China is the world's largest recipient of foreign direct investment, although growth is starting to decrease.  U.S. retailers profit margins average 1-2% according to National Retail Federation.  

Production location is less important to retailers, while quality is paramount.  Uniqlo is the largest apparel chain in Asia. It makes 70% of its clothing in China.

So why not have more production here? American citizens simply live in a different world with different expectations. The conditions laborers accept overseas would hardly fly here.  Many countries just don't have the employment law standards and practices so common here.  Is this any reason to keep production out of the States?  Is this system just part of the globalization scene, letting each nation do what they do best?

What do you think?  Should we have more clothing production here, or keep things as they are?

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