When textile and garment manufacturers began moving their businesses abroad a few decades ago, the consequences were disastrous for the UK economy. A lot of businesses went bankrupt, and many brands disappeared altogether. The factories that remained in the UK were no longer able to produce at a competitive price, so they had to lay off workers or even close their doors. However, this migration has not been without benefits for communities in third world countries. Factory jobs have become more prevalent, providing consistent work and pay however, moving abroad means these companies are able to take advantage of cheaper labor costs and the environment in which these individuals are working in can sometimes be very poor, with long hours.
That is not to say that manufacturing abroad is always a negative thing. From a business standpoint the pros to manufacturing overseas are that, in terms of costs; offshore production is generally more cost-effective, especially when producing large volumes. On the other hand, small volumes (that would be easier to achieve in the UK) would not achieve favourable costs, and some overseas factories have high minimum order quantities. Until you build a relationship with a factory, they may also want 30 per cent payment upfront and the final payment when goods are collected. Not to mention you will most likely be subject to currency fluctuations which can affect your profit margin. If you have the financial backing to make this move then I'm sure you will not face any issues and will likely benefit from the pool of highly skilled labour of specialists workers, particularly in craft areas and embellishment. If the process is time-consuming, with cheaper labour you are able to be far more adventurous and creative. In addition to this, there has been a lack of investment in manufacturing for many years in the UK, and offshore factories are more likely to have the most up-to-date machinery and CAD/CAM systems as well as machinery investment, so it may be hard to get your product made within the country.
However, there are also many benefits to manufacturing products in the UK. For one, producers that operate locally can cut down on transportation costs and reduce their carbon footprint. Additionally, British manufacturers tend to have more control over quality and safety standards than those who work overseas. This means that UK-based factories tend to produce higher quality goods that meet stricter environmental regulations, ensuring that you can offer customers a superior product with confidence. The language barrier may make it harder for you to control your production if working overseas (especially if they do not speak English) as well as the time differences, meaning you will have to factor into the production cost your travel expenses to visit the factory. There is a possibility to work through an agent; however, they will charge you a fee and it is not always easy to find an agent you can trust to adhere to your high standards. Although your manufacturing costs in the UK may be more expensive, you will have more control over them and they won't fluctuate. You also have the added benefit of being on hand to check the quality and deal quickly with any problems that may arise. Factoring out any time wasted with wrong sampling or custom border checks etc.
Ultimately, deciding whether or not to offshore production is a complex decision that should be made on a case-by-case basis. However, it is clear that there are advantages and disadvantages to both options, so business owners need to carefully consider all the factors involved when making this choice. Regardless of where you choose to manufacture your products, though, it is important to prioritize high quality, environmentally-friendly manufacturing processes in order to ensure that your business is successful over the long-term.
As the textile and garment manufacturing industry continues to evolve, it will be important for policymakers and workers' rights advocates to keep a close eye on developments abroad. With more attention paid to the impact of this migration on local communities and workers, perhaps we can find ways to promote positive change while minimizing some of the negative consequences. Until then, we must continue to strive for economic equality around the globe.
Overall, the migration of textile and garment manufacturers has been both a blessing and a curse for those affected by it. While these businesses have created jobs in impoverished areas and brought more economic prosperity to some communities, they have often done so at the expense of workers' well-being. The poor working conditions, long hours, and low pay associated with textile manufacturing abroad raise serious questions about its sustainability in the long term. Nevertheless, until better solutions are found, it seems likely that this industry will continue to move abroad in search of cheaper labor costs.