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California Apparel News / October 23, 2014

Industry Voices: Made in California, Managing Risks, Rewards with Fashion Technology

Mark Goldberg, NGC's Director of Western Region was recently featured in California Apparel News Industry Voices section for a Made in California article... 

One of today’s hottest fashion trends is as much a part of the West Coast as sand, surf and sunshine—apparel that wears the label “Made in California.”

While more than 97 percent of apparel sold in the U.S. is manufactured overseas, according to the American Apparel and Footwear Association, domestic production is vitally important to many West Coast companies. Higher Chinese labor costs, long lead times for overseas production, the rise of fast fashion and changes in consumer preferences have created new openings for California-made apparel.

Increased rewards, greater risks
But what exactly is Made in California, and how do the risks and rewards compare with overseas sourcing? Take a closer look and you’ll find major differences. Most imported production is sourced as “full package,” in which a company cuts a single purchase order to the overseas vendor and submits the techpack. The factory takes over from there, absorbing any changes in cost due to schedule, delivery and material quality.

With Made in California, a company’s responsibilities grow exponentially. Depending on the model, brands or retailers may be responsible for raw materials, in-transit goods and manufacturing processes, including cutting, screen-printing, embroidery, sewing and more. Instead of a single P.O., companies must manage multiple purchase orders and delivery dates. While production sourcing shifts the liabilities to vendors, Made in California assigns all the risks to the brand or retailer, from design through manufacturing. If the raw materials arrive late or damaged, production schedules slip or labor costs increase, it’s their responsibility.

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