Neither re-shoring nor back-shoring will bring back many jobs that were lost via off-shoring with apparel production being still dominated by globalization, opines International Apparel Federation (IAF) president Han Bekke. He was speaking at the Sewn Products Equipment & Suppliers of the America (SPESA) Executive Conference in San Antonio (Texas-USA) recently where many apparel machinery suppliers had converged. Pressure for cheaper prices still persists in abundance, Bekke added. He pointed at the dominance of big players in the fashion market who have made globalisation more accessible via better IT systems and processes in their supply chain. Most of the apparel production takes place in Asia, Middle and South America and Turkey, he maintained.
Nevertheless Bekke forsees a future for local manufacturing given the innumerous challenges the fashion sector is facing. The race to the bottom in terms of prices will not help companies to improve their profitability on a long term. Consumer behaviour is changing in a climate of disruptive economical activities. Sustainability (social compliance and environmental compliance) is leading to a growing demand if not pressure for transparency, traceability and accountability.
The fashion system has to reinvent itself, Bekke observed. Speed to market and mass customization form a growing business case for manufacturing closer to the market, he added. New technologies like 3D manufacturing and printing, robotisation and digitalisation could create new high-skilled jobs but less than the jobs that were lost via off-shoring.