Why ‘Made in USA’ Could Really Become More of a Reality
When COVID-19 ground everyday life to a halt, the impact on the retail industry was immediate and severe. The fashion industry, which offers anywhere from 12 to many dozens of deliveries per year, was left staggering as the pandemic forced far-flung overseas factories to shut down. Orders were cancelled, or retailers and brands refused to pay for completed goods because sales nosedived as stores were ordered to close. During the ensuing months, the havoc wrought by the coronavirus has generated discussions about the practicality of near-shoring business, and perhaps creating a “revolution” in U.S. manufacturing.
The CFDA’s Cal McNeil, program manager, explains in an interview with the Lifestyle Monitor™ how the turbulence in the early days of the coronavirus led brands into unmapped territory.
“Before New York City and much of the United States transitioned to lockdown, designers I spoke with decided to either keep their production with their international manufacturing partners and hope those countries had short lockdowns, or decided to pull their production and send it elsewhere, including New York and other U.S. manufacturing hubs,” McNeil says in the interview. “In the end, because New York was swift in locking down and mandating the closure of manufacturing and other businesses, those designers who pulled their overseas production to New York City didn’t end up with much more benefit than those who kept their inventory elsewhere—other than having their materials and products in-hand.”In the interview, McNeil says 2020 may be one of the hardest years that the industry has had to navigate.
“The entire chain dissolved within a matter of weeks because of the pandemic,” he says. “Retailers collapsed with too much inventory and no consumer shopping, which then led to retailers cancelling or drastically decreasing future orders, or not having the ability to pay designers on recent deliveries. Designers then did not have funds on hand and could not pay their manufacturers, other vendors and even their own teams.
“The type of brands manufacturing in the U.S. could change because some large brands have or will downsize so much that local manufacturing could make sense for them,” McNeil says. “And some brands may only be able to afford lower-priced production costs that some U.S. manufacturers can’t compete with. But I think overall the same level of brands will continue to produce locally.”
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