Analysts' Perspectives - August 2003


"The demand for full packages by companies changes them from manufacturers to designers/distributors. As a result they have no need for pattern makers, people to follow up on fabric deliveries or a myriad of other personnel who were formerly involved in the manufacturing process. Skill sets are disappearing, but most acutely in the men's and women's tailored clothing area. It is in this area of manufacturing that art surpasses engineering. American companies, in an effort to reduce their costs, prefer the full-package supplier to undertake this responsibility. Hence, less and less are they hiring skilled people or training young tailors. Consequently, there are fewer factories in the United States making better-tailored garments. Conversely, in Italy, they are still training tailors, and their tailored clothing business is very healthy. In Asia they, generally, have not yet achieved the level of sophistication of the European or American tailored clothing factories."

"The combined pull of globalization and full-package sourcing are certainly moving not just production but also production capabilities and competencies offshore. They are also refocusing on-shore attention on forecasting, trend spotting, planning, inventory deployment, logistics and other supply chain competencies that are arguably equally important to overall customer and consumer satisfaction. The challenge for many companies today is to adapt, build and grow these challenging new competencies."

"It's a fair statement that there is a loss of domestic manufacturing and design skills and the ability to create a quality product caused by full packages and the shortened supply chain. The truth is, with a couple of notable exceptions, no one really makes anything in this country anymore. Having said that, a strong collaborative product development management system can overcome some of these hurdles. So, it is less an issue of loss of skill sets as it is a replacement of one collection of skill sets with another. But taking off my analyst's hat for a minute, I do long for the days when I could pick up a garment and know it was well-made."

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