Textile and Apparel “Made in the World”

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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.

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Author: Sheng Lu

Professor @ University of Delaware

5 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.

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