Sourcing From the Americas: AAPN's Position

3/3/2014
We believe doing business in the USA and the Americas is easier, faster, safer and just plain better. Sure, if you want to source huge quantities, and you know what will sell way in advance, and you are not worried about flexibility, and you just want cheap — then there are plenty of mega-factories in the world that will take your orders. But if you are looking for a more flexible sourcing model, one that better aligns with today's fickle, hyper-connected, want-it-my-way-consumer, then you need to look to the Americas. Here's why:

Easier
We know some people like 16-hour flights and late-night conference calls. You will have to give those up to work in the Americas. Most factories in the Americas have at least a six-hour time zone overlap with your office. "American" English is spoken and easily understood. Face-to-face meetings are quick to arrange, fast to reach and simple to understand. Industries are so tightly integrated in the Americas; for example, one manufacturer offers full-package jeans production in Central America, owns a U.S. denim mill and maintains an office in the fashion jeans center of L.A.

Faster
The Americas are not just faster because of proximity, although ocean transit times of less than a week are nice. The Americas are faster because it's easier to collaborate, and the better you collaborate, the faster you get. The Americas are faster because the factories are smaller and they can react more quickly.

Safer
When it comes to sustainability, worker safety, environmental stewardship, factory compliance and social responsibility, many factories in the Americas have a significant competitive advantage, with  social programs that cut turnover, training costs and absenteeism, which in turn lead to better skills, more flexibility, consistent quality and faster cycle times.

Better
Easier, faster and safer adds up to better. Better because you can get more sell-through when you can order closer to the demand and do fewer blind buys. Better when you can get duty-free imports without risking your company's reputation in countries with poor compliance history. Better because you can spend less time on the plane and more time doing your job.


Mike Todaro is managing director of the American Apparel Producers' Network (AAPN), a network of suppliers that spans the apparel supply chain.
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