Geoff Krasnov offers apparel/clothing/garment manufacturing and sourcing news.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


We are commonly asked for "made in USA apparel" under the buyers belief that apparel made in USA is a strong selling point. Although it warms our heart to find the made in USA sentiment often sways potential buyers direction, it is usually followed by the reality of pricing and competitive position concerns. At you will find a basic chart that compares relative advantages and disadvantages to making clothing in USA versus overseas.

Aside from the emotional considerations, the next major concern we address is where to place the products. Factors that come into play are quantities, lead times, reliability, quality expectations, freight costs, political climate, availability of textiles, transit time, and labor costs. You will find that custom apparel manufacturing runs minimums of at least 1200 units per style as an opening order, and discounting is not usually a consideration for quantities less than 5,000 garments.

Domestic apparel production has been facing a double edged sword. First, USA labor averages in the $10-$12 per hour range versus rates as low as $.40 (Haiti). Bear in mind these rates affect the textiles, the findings (elastics zippers etc) as well as apparel assembly. This can be somewhat offset by manufacturing lower labor items as well as by utilizing technology and efficiencies. The second issue is far more ominous. With the decline of apparel manufacturing the infrastructure has begun to crumble. Findings such as buttons and snaps and zippers are no longer produced in this country and custom apparel manufacturing often requires custom trims. Subsequently, the minimums have increased and lead times have become extended. Additionally, US textiles have never been known for diversity, especially in the more "European" influenced fabrics. Textile mills have been closing at an unprecedented pace, leaving fewer and fewer to service the sector. Those surviing mills face irregular demand, forcing them to cut their labor force. Topping it off is the fact that energy accounts for a large percentage of a mills overall costs, and this has forced them to run less shifts or less days in attempts to lower consumption by shutting down boilers. When demand peaks these understaffed mills cannot respond fast enough, and deliveries suffer both from a timing and quality perspective.

The companies that specialize in domestic clothing manufacturing are dwindling. Those that remain must be extremely agile, must maintain a broad sourcing network, must maintain an extremely efficient/ low overhead structure, and must constantly be ready with alternative approaches to successfully service domestic private label apparel and custom apparel manufacturing requirements.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Custom Apparel manufacturing

Many customers ask us what the advantages are to custom producing apparel versus useing branded apparel and re-labeling. As a custom apparel manufacturer, Style Source ( must maintain an inventory of stock fabrications in order to provide low minimums and quick turn around times. Unfortunately, inventory means tying up working capital, so the range of fabrics and colors must be kept under control. The beauty of custom apparel is that you can provide complete styling/coloration and fabrication guidance in creating a style unique to your specific needs. Private label apparel manufacturing allows for us to become an extension of your company. As a private label apparel manufacturer we assume the role of your production management team. Custom apparel manufacturing requires an acuity at sourcing, planning, co-ordinating and technically interpreting the garment requirements. Apparel is the only commodity product that changes dimensionally after use and yet must conform to specific fit standards. Laundering causes relaxation and shrinkage that must be accomodated in the original patterns to insure after wash fit.

Utilizing the branded apparel program allows for quicker turn times and lower prices on commodity apparel. Obviously, we have no control over the quality of these pre-made garments, but if you are solely applying graphics or embroidery , and the message on the garment is the focal point, a branded program can work extremely well with a much lower initial investment.