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International Garment Sourcing

(December 2001) posted on Fri Jan 18, 2002

Globalization has changed the way garment-printing companies compete, both in the US and abroad.

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By Rick Davis

This change created an exceptional challenge for contract printers, who had little previous knowledge about garment manufacturing. When a printing operation decides to offer a full package program, it is that company's responsibility to ensure that the entire garment-manufacturing and printing process meets the customers' requirements.assuming responsibility for garment construction, printers face unfamiliar challenges. Today, they may be responsible for such things as new fabric development, confirmation of pattern accuracy, fabric color development and approval, prototype production, and of course, printing and overall quality control.

Needless to say, this requires a big change in mindset by contract printers who were used to simply taking the customer's garments out of a box, printing them, and returning them to the customer. But despite the obvious difficulties that come with such a change, quite a few large garment-printing companies have taken the challenge and have begun to offer full package programs.

How markets measure up

Almost all domestic garment manufacturers and full-package printers now offer custom garment production for large customers and are quite competitive in the right markets. Yet they are hard pressed to compete on certain fabrics and styles offered by foreign competition. Among domestic printers still using garments from domestic suppliers, the most successful ones are those who service specialty and regional markets.

What makes things even more difficult for textile printers today is the fact that garment printers and manufacturers in foreign countries are also offering full package programs. Depending on the country where the manufacturer is located, the cost of a full package program can be far below the level at which any domestic companies can afford to offer them. Today, domestic screen printers are competing for large garment orders not only with one another, but also with companies in Asia, Mexico, and the Caribbean Basin.

The Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) is another special trade program. It allows special discounts on duty for offshore manufacturing facilities that construct goods with American components. The introduction of the CBI was good for domestic fabric manufactures because it encouraged the use of their materials by foreign garment producers. But it struck a blow to domestic garment manufacturers, who couldn't maintain competitive pricing.


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