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Sourcing Journal Podcast: Episode 9 American Made

Garment manufacturing in the United States has seen better days. But, as automation technology matures, some American businesses have begun investing in local apparel manufacturing once again.

In this week’s episode, we highlight a clothing producer who has always been proudly made in the U.S.A. Dov Charney, who is best known for his first venture, American Apparel, is now building a new brand under Los Angeles Apparel. Here, he gives us a look into how his business can be competitive while manufacturing in the US.

Charney is joined by Ram Sareen, founder and CEO of Tukatech, a provider of fashion technology solutions. Sareen partnered with Charney to modernize American Apparel and has remained a powerful ally through the debut of the new business in 2016. Tukatech innovations have allowed Los Angeles Apparel to launch as a fully vertical company that specializes in speed-to-market and flexibility.

Both agree there is a future in American garment manufacturing but that it will require producers and manufacturers here to adopt the latest design and production innovations.

Below are a few excerpts from the discussion.

Charney on how embracing the most recent technology allows him to remain competitive:

“I do my own cutting and Ram’s system used to take about 12 minutes to optimize a marker. Today, that’s now 2-3 minutes and the fabric utilization is even better in terms of the algorithms they use. So, everything is getting better, everything is getting refined. Things are moving faster. Automation of manufacturing, for example, is an ongoing relentless effort. But, in the long term, it will beat the offshore model because the offshore model is too slow to react. For example, this morning I found out that we were out of a particular fabric. I knit locally, so I’m going to knit today, I’m going to dye the fabric tomorrow, I’m going to cut it on Saturday and I’m going to sew it on Monday. That’s the speed of manufacturing that is now possible with vertically integrated manufacturing.”

Sareen on the challenges American-made manufacturing is facing:

“As Americans, we are our own worst enemies. Back in the early 80s when I was doing consulting work, setting up factories in Asia, working for American companies and Canadian companies. We were setting them up to show them how to manufacture the American way. But, we had the innovation, we had the development rooms and we had the little factories and so on. Only the excess, we sent it out. What are we doing today? We are literally handing them our IP on a silver platter—who do we make it for, who is our customer, what the price is, what the fit is, what’s the development. We are asking the vendor to do everything.”

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This podcast episode is sponsored by Tukatech, the garment and apparel industry’s leading provider of fashion technology solutions. Tukatech’s advanced software and hardware gives designers, manufacturers and distributors the tools needed to streamline operations, increase efficiency and expand profits.

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