Global Value Chain for Apparel Sold at Target

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A global view in mind means more career opportunities: except material production and cut and sew, other well-paid jobs in the apparel value chain stay in the United States.

Source: Moongate Association (2017). Analyzing the Value Chain for Apparel Designed in the United States and Manufactured Overseas

Author: Sheng Lu

Professor @ University of Delaware

6 thoughts on “Global Value Chain for Apparel Sold at Target”

  1. It’s really interesting how when someone reads the label on their clothing, they more than likely assume that the item was entirely made wherever the label says. The full global value chain for apparel and all the jobs, people, and responsibilities it takes to bring a garment from an idea on the drawing board to a purchase by a consumer is not understood well enough. Like Target mentions, “apparel is about more than who sits behind the sewing machine.” There’s an entire chain of people who are needed to produce an apparel item, and it’s more than just the designer and the manufacturer. There are countless steps from the inspiration to the creation and production , then to the importation and the distribution, and finally to the transaction and into the consumers’ hands. Most consumers are highly uneducated about the path their apparel takes in order to get into their closets and homes, and it is something that companies, like Target, should start to do. This is the premise behind transparency, in that consumers should know exactly where their products came from, where they began, and all the ins and outs of the global value chain. I love how Target broke this down in not only a well-detailed manner, but also in a way that could be understood by their consumers.

    1. very well said! As I know, Target creates these graph for members of US Congress–to help them understand the nature of today’s global apparel value chain and ask them not to favor “manufacturing jobs” over “service jobs.”

  2. The whole global supply chain is so complex and has many different parts to it. When making a single product, there is so much more that goes into it than people necessarily think. For me personally, I never fully thought about how much effort and steps go into each garment, but this class has taught me to open my eyes and really think about where the garments I buy come from. I really like how open Target is about their products. Many brands keep it very private, which can make it difficult for consumers to really get to know the brand they are purchasing from. This is the first time I’ve seen a company who is really transparent with sourcing and production. They give detailed descriptions of before production, during, and after which is very important for consumers to understand because it could make or break their decision to buy from that specific company. I think companies need to be more open about specific details like where they source their products, how many employees work to create these products, and overall just more information about how merchandise arrives at their stores.
    After doing some research, I found some information on other companies’ supply chains and how transparent they are. Amazon is another company that is very open about production and the behind the scenes of how you receive their products. An article I found,, discusses the process behind sourcing and production for Amazon. It gives details of the process starting with sending products, receiving and storing, customer orders, shipping, customer service, and customer returns. It’s very important for companies to show consumers exactly how their process works to bring them the products they buy.

  3. The US-China Tariff War is a very controversial topic, and the global supply chain is very complex. There is so much work that truly goes into making a garment and then finally getting it to its final destination. Target is open about where their products come from, which is great for their customers to be able to see. There has been a tariff war between the US and China since 2018. The US imposed extra tariffs on two-thirds of Chinese imports, so China retaliated by placing tariffs on nearly 60% of U.S. products. Personally, I feel that the winners of this Tariff War are other countries, such as Vietnam, that are low cost exporters. This trade conflict is distorting global supply chains, making distributers have to adjust the ways they buy and sell their goods. To get around US Tariffs, companies have been moving distribution from China to Vietnam so they will be able to keep their prices down while only giving up some of their profit. Vietnam’s economy has grown by 7% in one year. Moving on to the losers of this Tariff War, I think this negatively impacts both American consumers and companies, as well as farmers and manufacturers, the most. Consumers are paying more for products than they are used to due to companies raising prices in order to compensate for the tariffs. Companies should be earning more due to raising their prices, but now have to give up more of their profit to pay the tariffs, so it negatively affects them as well. I think it would be very interesting to see how Target was affected by this tariff war!

  4. I really liked the quote from this article: “Because apparel is about more than who sits behind the sewing machine.” This quote speaks to how complex the fashion industry is; the industry does not start from the pieces of fabric being sewn together, it starts from the harvesting of a fiber that is then turned into the fabric. This is why transparency is so important in fashion, for both the customers and between each section of the supply chain. Customers should know how their clothes were created because they should be aware of the labor, costs and environmental impacts etc of the items they buy. Target is taking a step in the right direction by outlining many of the steps when developing a product.

  5. The fashion industry is so complex and many people are unaware of all the people, time, products, research, development, and more that goes into an article of clothing. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to study the fashion industry in the first place. It will always be relevant and there will always be jobs in the United States for people who are interesting in making the industry a better place. I think that it is so interesting when you really about how many people have worked on the clothing that I am wearing right now. It takes so many people to turn a trendy idea into a fashionable item. Even the items that are imported from other countries, 70% of the value is created in the United States. One garment has an army putting in work behind it.
    As I stated, most customers are uninformed about the garment sector, which, as we’ve seen throughout this course, has a significant impact on industry crises and concerns. Following the collapse of the Rana Plaza and other crises, for example, fashion labels and businesses began educating their customers. I admire the fact that Target is one of the firms that educates shoppers about the history of its clothing. Transparency is based on the idea that consumers should know where their products come from, where they started, and everything about the global value chain.
    I loved the quote from the article “Apparel is about more than who sits behind the sewing machine.” After reading this article it still leaves me thinking about a few things. I still question where my clothing really came from. For example, If the materials come from one country produced, sewed, etc. in other countries, which country goes on the label?

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