The world has seen one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded, a tsunami of gigantic size, death tolls of 10,000 or more, but this has been played down by the media, with larger emphasis on the manmade problem of nuclear radiation that has caused a dilemma, no deaths, and has affected the global security… Scientific advancements that can impact the earth and its well-being are overtaking the forces of nature
It is a shame that we as human beings have created such scientific advances for mankind, but our Textile/Apparel Industry is still in comparatively the DARK AGES. We are still using the “TREADLE” sewing machine, where electricity is still not plentiful in many Third World economies. This machine invented back in the mid-1800’s still can sew apparel very nicely, and produce a fine quality product.
In fact it still produces some of the finest brand name apparel products… most likely without the knowledge of the brands, or a turned eye of their agents in faraway manufacturing hubs in underdeveloped or developing economies.
So now here we are an industry that has both the old ways, as well as the newest machinery equipment to produce the same apparel product. It is an industry that can put many people to work, with little training, and comparatively with a low cost for machinery and overhead.
I have seen 13 workers with very little electricity, in a “CHICKEN COOP”, put out more production than 25 employees on a sewing line in a sophisticated factory. (Exception, the chicken coop employees could not afford a buttonhole machine, this had to be outsourced). This still goes on today in the majority of countries that export apparel products.
So why do exporting countries that usually begin with exportation of apparel, due to low cost labour availability, then tax the industry that is assisting them to grow economically by creating a better standard of living for the people.
True, as countries grow, the employee-labour intensive apparel product business also grows and grows and eventually the people associated with the business start to receive the opportunity to educate themselves and progress to more difficult assembly production where training and higher skills are required. With increasing literacy these workers then leave the Apparel Industry, go onto higher skilled paying jobs, and a better standard of living.
However, not everyone is blessed with desires of higher academics, as they desire only security for their families, and a chance just to enjoy life. I used to state in my teaching of classes at FIDM, that in the USA, no one while in elementary school, states they want to be a sewer in a factory, they all want to be firemen, policemen, doctors, nurses, and I could go on and on.
Today in our economic downturn, we have many people who graduated from sewing on the line, to higher management positions or higher skilled positions elsewhere, now desiring to go back to sewing and produce ‘Made in America’ apparel products. Statistics show that the garment manufacturing industry was the fastest growing industry in the last half of 2010.
The largest sewing operation in the USA, American Apparel in Los Angeles, California employs about 13,000 employees under one roof, has hundreds of retail stores, and operates in the most expensive city with highest taxes in the USA.
The cotton speculators, and the government restrictions, have put many people out of work. The figures are out now that the amount of land that has been seeded for cotton growing will be more than is needed, and the cost of cotton will now go down, (never what it was for years), but it will settle in about 4 to 6 months.
Due to changing equation many people were put out of work in India, Bangladesh, China, and now Indonesia (they grow cotton), Cambodia, (cheaper labour than China), and USA (grows cotton and maintains prices). However, Mexico and Central American countries, Peru (they all have Free Trade Agreements with the USA), have all increased export of apparel product to the USA, at the expense of the countries stated here.
I hope the people of Japan can rebuild and survive the catastrophic events that have taken place. I also hope that the speculators and politicians realize that neither greed nor lack of foresight can bring raw materials back under control, so the Textile/Apparel Industry can still be a catalyst in the economic growth of putting people to work, I hope with dignity and creating a better life for all.