The Apparel industry is one of the oldest and top trading industries in the world. Long ago, trading patterns were focus in primary production for clothing mostly occurring across the Mediterranean and the Far East. The main focus was trading primary products; Eastern Europe imported cotton, woolen and silk fabrics from Central Asia and exported considerable volumes of skins and furs. Eventually, Secondary production trading started to take course when India quality textiles began to be exported throughout all Asia, and later, to the West via Britain in exchange from gold and silver. Soon India started exporting directly to Europe. By the 1600’s, England developed mechanized means of weaving and spinning, launching the revolutionary period of clothing production in the West. This new technology in the textile industry provided the groundwork for the transition of the Western world into a true international economy and allowed secondary production trading to different parts of the world. Today, trading practices have change as a progressive relocation of production from the United States and Western Europe to Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America is taking place helping the development of markets in Third World countries. Such example can be seen in the brands of garments I usually wear and I selected as the purpose of this study.
The first item would be my Converse sneakers. This brand was created in Malden, Massachusetts in 1908 and it started as a rubber company for shoes and boots. While its Headquarters remained in Massachusetts its entire manufacturing unit was sent to India and Vietnam. Similarly, my Timberland works boots which were introduced in 1973 Abington, Massachusetts and made into a brand. Timberland’s Headquarters is in Boston and outsources much of its production to China and The Dominican Republic. Further, my Clarks shoes; this British brand was created 1825 and now is one of the world’s leading shoe brands with its Headquarters located in England, but the majority of their footwear is produced in China, Vietnam, Cambodia and India. My Polo shirt and brand was created by Ralph Lauren in1968 in New York, and it became one of the best-known fashion design and licensing houses in the world, with its Headquarters still in New York and it outsources mainly to China. By the same token, Lacoste (polo) Shirt and brand was created in the 1930s with its Headquarter in Paris France, but as the brand gained popularity, they sought expansion in the U.S. It outsources most of its production to China, India and Tunisia. Moreover, the Levis jean and trademark was founded in 1853 manly designing and marketing jeans its headquarters is located in San Francisco California and outsource its production to china. Hanes Brands (underwear) was formed in 1901 in Winston Salem North Carolina and it stills remains its Headquarter and it is outsourcing to Thailand and Vietnam. Abercrombie & Fitch (T-shirts) was founded in 1891 in New York City. It moved its headquarters to Ohio and it outsources to China. The North Face (jacket) originated in San Francisco California in 1966 as a climbing and backpacking equipment shop, Headquarters still San Francisco and they own manufacturing facilities mainly in Australia, Mexico, Poland, and the Middle East. Finally, the only brand of garment that I own that has kept a significant amount (50%) of manufacturing in the United States is New Balance (sneakers). It was founded in 1906 and its headquarters are in Boston, Massachusetts.
‘China is currently the largest supplier of apparel to the U.S Market supplying nearly 33.2 percent of apparel sold in the U.S. 97.7 percent of apparel sold in U.S in made internationally.’ Eight out of the ten companies I mentioned, outsource the majority of their production. Due to the low wages and long labor hours, production costs are significantly lower. Although, production is the main reason there are also other advantages from outsourcing, like bringing the company’s product closer to other markets such as the Asia and European, also the availability of resources and primary products from the from the area, gaining access to other technologies, and even taking advantages of incentives offered by foreign governments. In this matter, Asia has become the first choice for a company to outsource their products. By way of example; Converse, Clarks, Lacoste, Polo, A&F, Levis are all outsourcing to China and other parts of Asia. In the case of Converse, the company was forced to abandon their ‘MADE IN U.S.A’ label do to economic struggles, likewise, Clarks trimmed its manufacturing base in that country from 30 factories in the 1980s to only four remaining.
Basically, Outsourcing is essential to globalization. Companies are now competing with brands and companies all over the world and not only regional, helping to create wider markets. In the case of garments, they have to keep innovating and develop better products while keeping prices competitive. Such is the case of Lacoste and Polo Ralph Lauren and their similar products, this competition has forced them develop new merchandize and broaden their target market. Additionally, this practice is as important to the companies as much as it helps to industrialized countries that struggle to keep up with the world’s economic and technological progress. By this, it also creates jobs and other business opportunities; as a result, more countries opening its borders to welcome trade and outsourcing, welfare for people has increase.
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