Made in America, Maybe: The Potential Renaissance of Domestic Apparel Manufacturing in the United States
Apparel manufacturing is widely considered to be an industry that will never return to the United States so long as rising transportation costs are balanced by rock-bottom labor rates outside our borders. This paper explores the complexities of manufacturing apparel in an ever-changing seasonal schedule, in contrast with the ways that consumers choose to purchase apparel.A historical overview chronicles the decline of the apparel industry between the 1950s and the dawn of the new millennium, and past and present research regarding buying habits is highlighted to indicate the potential purchasing power of American shoppers seeking American products. A variety of domestically based clothing brands were interviewed in order to gain an understanding of the challenges and benefits of producing apparel in the United States.This thesis posits that apparel manufacturing may be able to return to the United States if brands focus on niche, high-margin products where quality surpasses sheer patriotism. Such an effort to maintain a new apparel manufacturing presence in the United States will only be worth the effort if consumers embrace domestically made goods--for reasons of patriotism, quality, or otherwise--in their regular shopping habits.
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