The shift in garment production to “frontier” manufacturing is stretching garment sourcing in ways few would have imagined a decade ago. China is being forced to move up the value chain, under siege from garment apparel manufacturers in countries like Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam and Bangladesh. For logistic providers, this requires a global re-stitching of supply chains.
For years, garment retailers have been juggling productions costs and quality with the time it takes to get their finished products to market. It’s a perpetual balancing act, and one that has become ever more complicated as labor costs in China have spiked and consumer demands for near immediate gratification of trendy, fashionable clothes at everyday prices – so-called fast fashion – have grown.
This has led to both a diversification of sources and a partitioning of production. Greater automation, technology and robotics play a growing role as well, all working to shrink the actual labor component. On the horizon is widespread use of 3D printing, now the exclusive domain of high fashion, which will allow the production of a piece of clothing at home with the exact specifications of the person wearing it.
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