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New focus on Made in USA fashion

Mar 19, 2014

Fashion

After the manufacturing tragedy in Bangladesh, global high street leaders are looking at alternative solutions to increase clothing production safety in developing countries as much as sourcing manufacturing closer to home.  In America, Made in the USA is as much a retail issue as it is a political one.

The American Apparel and Footwear Association, AAFA, has been promoting the Made in USA movement by providing more accessible resources to companies wishing to source their production closer to home.

High interest in American made products

“Made in the USA — it’s a hot topic,” said Stephen Lamar, executive AAFA vice president told WWD. “Over the last couple of years, lots of individuals were trying to build a business case for Made in USA."

Incoming AAFA chairman Rick Helfenbein, said: “There is a lot we can do to gain exposure for Made in USA. It depends on taking what already exists and making it clearly visible to everybody, meaning identifying all of the fabric mills, identifying all of the potential manufacturing sites. We know the desire is there and the demand is there. How it will rise will depend on what the market will bear.”

But there are challenges to producing products in the U.S., noted Philip Williamson, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Co., which has a significant domestic manufacturing presence.

“It is still a challenge because it is hard to find the workforce,” he said. “There are not many domestic sewing operators or footwear producers, so that is a challenge, and costs are still pretty prohibitive, depending on the type of item you are making.”

The AAFA is the national trade association representing apparel, footwear and other sewn products companies, and their suppliers, which compete in the global market.

Image: Made in USA