For a few years now, there has been a returned interest to manufacturing in the US. But the market has yet to adjust their expectations of what this means.
From a brand side, this means higher costs, which is obvious, but it also means smaller order quantities. While fast-fashion can be done in the US, a majority of domestic manufacturers are really made to support the slow-fashion ethos.
This means less than 1000 units as an opening order. But it also means more than 50. Most brands who come to me, think they can start a business with 50 pieces of one style. Not ideal for anyone. First of all, your website is going to look sparse, and second of all, you are going to pay nearly double what it would cost to create 3 or more products at once, with at least 150-300 piece opening orders.
From a retail side, this means higher price points. No more $20.00 sweatshirts. If the fabric costs $8.00 in total, and the tags add another $2.00, plus the sewing is $10.00 or more, how can a brand sell a US made sweatshirt for $20.00? They can't. And if people want to support fair labor practices, support domestic manufacturing and they wish to purchase a quality product, then the expectation of a $20.00 sweatshirt should be left for the Made in China companies.
And while Made in China (or made anywhere else besides US and Europe) doesn't mean low quality or unfair labor practices by default, it does mean a larger impact on the environment and on our economy. Also, companies who produce overseas are more likely to make a higher profit more easily, but the money they invested to turn the profit isn't recirculated into our economy, it is spent overseas where the goods were made.
So it's really just a conversation about values. If you want a $20.00 sweatshirt, buy it from a Made in China company. But if you want to buy something made with a slow-fashion ethos, buy US Made. I think as of right now, it's a mix of both for even the conscious consumer, because we can't always afford that $200.00 dress. But if more people begin to understand both the manufacturing perspective and the consumer perspective, US made could be revived in an impactful way in the future.
The choice is ours.
COURTNEY CADY, SHALLOW FASHION 2016