Well, not so fast there, cowboy!! We are keen on manufacturing returning to America. But we are aware of the lack of expertise that we have developed in the last twenty years. We are trying to imagine all kinds of apparel operations returning from China and we are wondering if we are ready for even the beginning of this movement. We say, “Study Up”.
In the Washington Monthly article, Three Ways to Bring Manufacturing Back to America the discussion uses such terms as “in-sourcing” and says the trend is real enough. Well, certainly the out-sourcing trend was real and will probably stay real for decades to come. Just the sheer number of employees needed to produce all the things we in the USA consume would be staggering.
And then there is “reshoring” (as opposed to offshoring) and all of that sounds great. Now, let’s get busy and prepare ourselves for the work that is already returning to our country. Trust us, if work comes back home it will only be because the workforce is capable and ready to do that work.
In terms of apparel, it has been said that cost of production in China will equal the cost of US production in 2015 (which in apparel industry terms is yesterday!) Since wages have doubled in China in the last ten years, we might imagine being able to compete, but again, we need to be prepared. If we fail to be able to produce our gadgets, toys, and bobbles, we may see the prices rise beyond our own means. Besides, it would be great to see Americans relearn how to create the things we love. And though the hourly wage in China has only risen to $1.36 an hour, the cost of doing business off-shore includes much more than the direct labor involved.
Another article in the Washington Monthly refers to the dwindling labor force in China. The article is required reading for anyone who chooses to understand the nature of international trade and the “follow the low wage” mentality of industries which cannot charge much for their products. Chinese Labor, Cheap No More was written in early 2012 so you can imagine how this will continue to play out over the next few decades. There is really nowhere else like China in the world: no labor force so large in a country with a relatively acceptable infrastructure. So, America, get on the ball. Let’s bring home just some of the production and begin to rebirth our apparel industry.
On a small side note about the future of manufacturing, pay attention to the 3D printing rage. El Paso, Texas has many fabulous things going on in this area. We have posted about it before but it is growing as we speak. We sadly missed the 3D printing opening party in Northeast El Paso at the end of June but we are looking forward to learning more about this company in the near future.
Special thanks to our dear friend and fashion designer par excellence, Tom Courtney, for these great links posted to his satiric fashion doll blog, tommydoll.