It is with much sadness I write this post. Even more saddening is reading the news articles and SEEING the weeping and hysterical people who have lost family, friends and colleagues.
Did you see the news a few days ago? No? Ok, I’ll catch you up to speed…
A building housing multiple garment factories collapsed in Bangladesh. Eight floors gave way under shoddy building materials and poor construction. It was reported that the day before the collapse that major cracks appeared in the building and other businesses evacuated the premises. The garment workers were told to stay put or lose their jobs because of overdue orders. The dude that owned the building tried to flee the country after it was determined that he had a political associate sign off on the soundness of construction.
To this date over 650 bodies have been recovered and still 140 people are missing. It has been declared the worst industrial accident in history.
What an awful tragedy in the name of apparel. The big retailers such as Walmart, Joe Fresh and Disney are hastily washing their proverbial bloody hands and claiming that they were not in production with the garment factories at the time of collapse. Whatever it takes for damage control…
It’s a race to the bottom of the price barrel with consumers demanding rock bottom prices for garments. Everyone wants the best quality, the well known brand name for the cheapest price possible. With minimum wages here in the US between $7-8 an hour, it is easy to see why this is so. People struggle to provide the basics for themselves and families here.
What is the action manufacturers take in the aftermath of this tragedy? There are only three possibilities.
1) Down play and brush this event and past events under the carpet and business as usual. We can’t overcome corrupt governments but we can have cheap products!*
2) Place some responsibility on manufacturers to ensure that factory workers conditions are safe and humane.
3) Move production back onshore.
I’m going to bet that most behemoths are going to chose option 1). I am also going to bet that they announce they are choosing 2) but in reality are going to operate under option 1). Certainly no takers for option 3).
Here’s why I will never manufacture in Bangladesh (or offshore for that matter) and why someday I dream I will be able to do in house production.
1) I need a customs broker
2) I need an agent in the country of manufacture
3) I do not want to mess with 1) or 2)
4) Import taxes
5) Shipping costs
6) Orders getting held up in customs
8) Language barriers
10) Long haul international flights
11) Uncertainty of workers conditions, wages and treatment.
12) I believe in American manufacturing
13) Lastly, I have a moral problem of paying workers an average of $38 a MONTH to sew garments.
What do you think of manufacturing onshore compared to offshore? Do you believe Made in the USA is a better quality product and most importantly, are you prepared to PAY a little more?
* The above remark was with full sarcasm and I hope you caught on to this!