Its been a few months since I had a rant about the demise of first world manufacturing. Sure there are companies like American Apparel and my own Cactus Climbing creating a brand story out of retaining a first world manufacturing ethos but they are in the minority.

News this morning that yet another apparel manufacturer is closing down, citing cheap imports as the main reason for their demise. Apart from the obvious concerns about the social, economic and environmental impacts of moving production to third world countries (has anyone noticed the air at the Beijing Olympics?), on a more personal note it’s sad to see a bunch of skilled craftspeople no longer employed through no fault of their own.

It makes me, once again, want to suggest that we all have a look at the country of origin of the garments we’re all wearing today and once we’ve done that check out this movie – it’s all food for thought…

[Postscript – interesting to note that one of the companies in the movie, Macpac, is no longer, despite their move to third world manufacturing. Maybe the answer isn’t as simple as offshoring our impacts????]

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

1 Comment
  • Looks like one I should comment on (disclosure I’m a Cactus Director).

    I am currently living in Germany and it is astonishing to find that in one of the most wealthy countries in the world they largely make their own consumer goods.

    I went to the beach and we took a beach ball (German made), we traveled in a Volkswagon (ditto) and ate ice cream made in the same ice cream bar as it was served. Now I’ve started paying more attention I have noticed the vacuum cleaner here is made in Germany as are the power tools and hand tools my friends have.

    I think my point is that people here are making advanced tools (ice cream makers!) and then using those to actually make products. And it is not an ‘accepted truth’ that out sourcing is the only way to go like it is in NZ.

    Interesting…

    PS: I’ve had two people tell me here in Germany they have stopped buying Icebreaker because of it’s Chinese origin. When I told them my pet theory of how Icebreaker should have opened a state of the art factory in South Auckland they totally agreed, they would easily pay the $10 extra per garment if it was all ‘NZ’.

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