Textile and Apparel “Made in the World”

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While shopping in SoHo (NYC), Nicole Farese, a student from FASH455, found the label of a Splendid sweater reads “Made of Italian Yarn” and “Made in China”. Splendid is a casual wear store which is known for their high-quality clothing sold at a premium price.

Exercise: Check your wardrobe and can you find any clothing that is also made through a “global supply chain?” Please feel free to submit your picture with a brief description of your item to shenglu@udel.edu.

Author: Sheng Lu

Professor @ University of Delaware

10 thoughts on “Textile and Apparel “Made in the World””

  1. I just ran through a quick survey of my wardrobe to see what countries the majority of my wardrobe was from. I first turned to my closet which consists of quite a few of fast fashion brands, as well as private label brands that belong to places such as Nordstrom, as well as other brands such as Madewell, J.Crew and Free People. Collectively, most items were listed as “Made in China” with a few “Made in Indonesia” and one shirt “Made in Korea”. I was hoping to find more of these “listed” countries on the clothing tags. As we have discussed in class with the topic of the global supply chain–the products we buy come from all corners of the globe, the place it was assembled may be the only country that is listed on the tag.

    I then turned to my collection of athletic wear which had many “Made in Indonesia” and “Made in Vietnam” listings. Again, I was hoping to find a list of two or three countries. The one thing I noticed that was different from the closet clothes was that the athletic wear commonly differentiated, “Made in Indonesia, Fabric of Indonesia” or “Made in Vietnam, Fabric of Vietnam”. A few of my athletic shorts had this format. It makes me think about the reasoning behind how a brand choses to list the country of origin, ie. listing final country, differentiating where it is made vs. where the fabric is from, or listing all countries involved. Do some countries require that their contribution is always listed on every product? What legal factors are involved in this decision?

    Lastly, I looked at a more complex textile/apparel item in my room: a North Face backpack. I was so surprised to see only one country listed, “Made in Vietnam”. With all the zippers, various closures, and high endurance fabrics used, I was almost certain I would find more than one country listed. I will continue to search my wardrobe day by day to see if any item shows a true list of contributors.

    1. Thank you danamandell! Your findings are very interesting! As I know, currently the country of origin of a clothing is typically based on where the product is cut and sewed, not where the yarns & fabrics come from. But for some brands, which try to highlight the quality of their fabrics or fibres, they may intentionally provide more such information. Nevertheless, it is amazing to see your closet includes so many different countries already!

  2. I just did a quick survey of about 40 of my shirts and was surprised at what I found! I was expecting to see most were made in Bangladesh, based on our recent conversations, however the majority was made in China. I knew I had a few pieces made in the USA, but I was surprised to find others (from Urban Outfitter brands) as well! Some surprising countries to see (not mentioned in our discussions) were Peru, India, Italy, Morocco, Romania, Sri Lanka and Turkey. Other countries listed were Cambodia, Indonesia, Mexico and Vietnam. There was only one piece from Bangladesh! I was happy to find that 7 of my shirts were made in the USA (brands included Michael Stars, 3 Dots, Silence and Noise and Kimchi Blue). Because none of my pieces are from huge fast fashion brands like Forever 21 or Zara and I have a wide variety of retailers and brands for my clothes I think this is why my range of countries are so large.

    1. very interesting, thank you! Your finding is consistent with the statistics: https://www.usitc.gov/research_and_analysis/trade_shifts_2016/textiles.htm

      And based on your findings, what do you think about the future of apparel made in the USA? https://shenglufashion.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/debate-on-sourcing-and-manufacturing-in-the-u-s-apparel-industry-discussion-questions-from-fash455/

      Also, does the product label mention anything about the source of fabrics or yarns?

  3. I just quickly did a survey of most of the tops in my closet and I was surprised for the most part. I buy most of my clothing from stores and brands; Free People, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, and boutiques in the area. I found that a lot of my clothes had labels saying “Made in China.” After talking through out this semester about how textiles and apparel factories are really all over the world and not just in China, although it really may seem like it. There were a couple tags that said “Made in Thailand” and “Made in Bangladesh.” I was not surprised about my clothing made in Bangladesh as we have been talking about that all semester. I did have a few more expensive pieces I have bought through out my life from boutiques and 2 of them did happen to be “Made in USA.” I found that very interesting because we have learned about how people do not realize that labor costs can be cheap in the US and it can be cheap to produce apparel here.

  4. I looked in my closet and I came across many different countries on my clothing tags. I saw a lot of “Made in China” and these garments were my more inexpensive pieces of clothing. I also saw a “Made in Vietnam” and “Made in Thailand”. My few pieces that said ” Made in USA” were more expensive pieces of clothing and I now know why these were more expensive to purchase. It is more expensive to manufacture clothing domestically. When I am in stores and things are pricey I am now going to look at the tag and see if the country in which it is manufactured has something to do with the cost. FASH455 has made me more aware of my purchases.

  5. I looked my clothing tag, and I think it is interesting. I found many of my clothing are made in China, whether clothing is cheap or expensive. Also, some of clothing are made from Vietnam and some other Asian countries. This shows me supply chain in Asian countries is powerful, and a large number of clothing come from Asian countries. Also, companies sourcing, design, manufacturing, and retailing in different countries, and taking advantages from different countries. I think it is very smart, and the fashion industry is very successful. Globalization is important to today’s fashion industry, and I think globalization is better than manufacturing domestically because increasing the whole economy in the world. Moreover, bringing all ideas together to create the fashion industry.

  6. Made in: China (7), Indonesia (1), Peru (1), India (2), Mexico (1), Vietnam (2)

    After looking through my closet, I was surprised about what I found, but at the same time I was not. Most of the clothing I looked at were jackets or tops from Anthropologie, Free People and Urban Outfitters. I was not surprised to find that the majority of them were made in China. This makes sense considering the leadtime and speed is much quicker than if the products were to be made in the United State. Also, it is much cheaper to manufacture there and we have learned a lot about this in class this year. I was honestly a little surprised to find that not one thing was made in the United States. I know that not many products are, but it shows a lot about why the United States is losing jobs because all these companies care about is speed and low cost. Last year in my sustainability class I remember learning a lot about the tags on our clothing and why they were made in certain places. The other 5 countries that I listed above do not surprise me because I remember my class shouting out places where their clothes were made from and it included all of these countries. The cost for manufacturing in these countries is significantly lower that manufacturing in the United States. But these companies don’t realize what they are putting these poor workers through in the factories in developing countries.

  7. After investigating my closet, I wasn’t too surprised with the results. A lot of my clothing that is hanging are from retailers such as Zara and Forever 21 so most of those tags were “Made in China”. I was surprised to see a lot of “Made in Vietnam” as well for those items of clothing. A few of my more expensive sweaters I’ve acquired from working at Ralph Lauren, were “Made in Peru”, as they were made with authentic merino wool. Another thing that stood out to me were my clothes that I purchased from Zara specifically. Three of the items I looked at were made in Morocco, Portugal, and China, none were made in Spain. I thought this was interesting as Zara is originally from Spain and boasts vertical integration as well as owning their own plants; however, none of the pieces I had purchased were made in Spain. It was interesting to see, in my own closet, the effect of price and thus, manufacturing location. The Ralph Lauren sweaters were more expensive due to brand name, quality, and sourcing in Peru where manufacturing is much more slow-paced. The clothes that came from fast fashion retailers were outsourced to places like China and Vietnam to drive a low retail cost for the consumer.

  8. My wardrobe like the other students who posted their replies, has many nations represented. Mostly, I have China. I have mostly fast fashion clothing and I am always looking for a good and cheap deal. Therefor I only found a few clothing items MADE IN THE USA. However, this really does not upset me. Of all the clothing made internationally that I have I think it is well made for the most part and good quality, which is something many people might not agree with when a shirt comes from China. Maybe I am just lucky or maybe I take really good care of my things, but I do not have any issues with outsourcing labor to other nations overseas. As long as the people are being well treated I think it helps both nations economies and gives people jobs and an income for families. Other than China I have found other asian countries that produce my clothing. Such as Bangladesh, Vietnam… I saw other nations such as Peru, India, Italy, Germany… but I was overwhelmed by how many of my clothes were made in asian nations usually third world nations as well.

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