17
Apr
15

“Classic” Clothing Company – Made in the USA

Online Clothes Shopping Site | Lovetheclassic.

I found this clothing label “The Classics” as I was going through an apparel shop in Sausalito, California. What I noted was that they were all made in the USA and they were all selling for $10. As I did a little more research I found that “Classic” also makes clothing for men and children. One last interesting tidbit is that this company was acquired by Amazon.com in 2006.

Coca cola T-shirt - made in USA "The Classics"

Coca cola T-shirt – made in USA “The Classics”

Below is an excerpt from their website: lovetheclassic.com

About US (The Classic Brand)

Since its launch in 2000 as a modestly sized online boutique specializing in hard-to-find denim lines, The Classic Brand has grown to become one of the leading fashion retailers in the world. Curated with a chic, modern woman in mind, The Classic Brand offers a comprehensive collection of designer apparel and accessories to suit every style and occasion.

USA Flag Design by The Classics

USA Flag Design by The Classics

Called “the editors of what’s cool” by Daily Candy, and recognized by The Wall Street Journal as having “the best customer service,” The Classic Brand’s commitment to staying ahead of the curve and providing a personalized shopping experience continue to be driving forces behind the company’s success. A champion of new design talent and a pioneer in the magazine-meets-boutique approach to online shopping, The Classic Brand showcases its fashion-forward point of view in editorial lookbook features and receives frequent mention in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Elle. The Classic Brand’s Exclusives section features limited-edition pieces from top designers available only at The Classic Brand.

Hot Lady Leggings

Hot Lady Leggings

In 2006, The Classic Brand was acquired by Amazon.com, Inc., the world’s largest internet retailer, enabling The Classic Brand to expand its services to enhance the customer experience. A trusted, globally recognized fashion merchant, The Classic Brand sells only quality, authentic designer merchandise. The Classic Brand is part of the Amazon.com Inc. group of companies.

New York Cotton Shorts

New York Cotton Shorts

Editor’s Note

The Classics has apparel for women, girls and men. For women they have T-shirts, blouses, sweaters, shorts and leggings. For men, they offer T-shirts, tanks and sweaters. Please note that not all “Classics” are “Made in the USA”. Before you purchase, make sure it says “Made in USA” and not “Imported”. This may be a great niche for people who want “Made in USA” clothing without spending a lot. Also, it is a way for some retailers to put add inexpensive “Made in USA” clothing to their inventory. Buy American and save your neighbor’s job.

USA Flag Print Shorts

USA Flag Print Shorts

16
Apr
15

Labor unions ramp up opposition to Obama trade agenda | TheHill

Labor unions ramp up opposition to Obama trade agenda | TheHill.

From The Hill April 13, 2015

The AFL-CIO is ramping up its efforts this week to convince Congress to oppose giving the White House fast-track authority on trade.

The labor group is holding events across the country as part of a “week of action” on trade.

“The week of action will increase the political momentum and grassroots opposition to fast track the same week Congress is expected to begin consideration of a trade promotion authority bill,”  the AFL-CIO said in a statement.Lawmakers, labor union leaders and their members will hold a rally Wednesday on Capitol Hill and follow that up with 50 grassroots events around the country and in more than a dozen countries on Saturday as part of the weeklong effort.

Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), as well as United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre and Sierra Club National Campaign Director Debbie Sease, are among those expected to attend the Wednesday event in the Upper Senate Park on Capitol Hill.

The efforts include letter-writing campaigns, phone calls, petitions and door-knocks.

“The grassroots movement against fast track is nationwide — and it’s not just labor,” said Celeste Drake, the AFL-CIO’s trade policy specialist.

“It’s folks from the environmental, consumer, faith, farm, business and good governance communities as well. And we’re having an impact.”

Editor’s Note

Stop the TPP. No more Free Trade Agreements our import tax is already so incredibly low at 1.5%. No more offshoring of US jobs. The Free Trade treaty the TPP is very close to coming up for discussion – it could be any day. Call your Congressmen today.

13
Apr
15

Benefits of Sourcing and Manufacturing Your Collection Locally in America | Maker’s Row Blog

Benefits of Sourcing & Manufacturing Your Collection Locally in America | Maker’s Row Blog. The article appeared in the Magazine Apparel and The Maker’s Row Blog on March 20th, 2015. Thanks to The Alliance for American Manufacturing for highlighting this article about the advantages of doing your manufacturing locally. I have also included a second article regarding the same subject.

Benefits of Sourcing & Manufacturing Your Collection Locally in America

We did a lot of searching (sometimes right here on Maker’s Row) and cold-calling/emailing.  Ultimately, the decision to source and to manufacture domestically both suited our needs and fit our mission for two overarching reasons.

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1. Manageable minimum orders

Ever cold-called an overseas factory and learned that the minimum order is five thousand garments? High minimum orders means high start up costs. These high start up costs can prevent you from even entering the market, so bypassing this hurdle entirely is definitely a plus.

High minimums can also lead to surplus inventory, which can squeeze your cash flow. The ability to manufacture in small batches allows us to control our inventory, and thus our cash flow, more smoothly. Managing our inventory also means that we are not producing more than we sell, so we get to skip figuring out how to offload excess inventory at the end of a season. In short, we make what we need.

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2. Face-to-face relationships

It’s awesome that we have been able to establish face-to-face relationships with Kingsland Printing and Quick Turn Clothing — relationships that would not have been possible if we were to manufacture overseas. These relationships are essential for maintaining accountability within our supply chain. A lot of the breakdown in ethically and sustainably manufacturing garments comes from complicated, hard-to-supervise supply chains. Actively considering people and the environment is integral to what we do, so we love that our manufacturing partners are just a subway ride away and we get see their operations firsthand.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 12.04.01 PM

Also, being close to our manufacturers allows us to truly understand our production process from beginning to end, to ask a lot of questions (our manufacturers are consistently responsive), and to make changes to our order in (almost) real-time.

Finally, manufacturing domestically means that shipping distances are shorter, so less fuel and less environmental impact. Manufacturing domestically was a decision of both necessity and deep-seated desire to make the best choices around how we treat people and the environment.

Editor’s Note

The perfect complement to this piece is also from the Maker’s Row blog which is called:

5 Advantages to Keeping Production Local

Communication

Working with a domestic manufacturer makes the communication process easy. Real time phone and in-person conversations result in a better understanding of the specifics of your product. Language barriers, time zone differences and long overseas flights are eliminated.

Low Minimums

Order quantity minimums with U.S. manufacturers start at 100 units or less. The small minimum quantity exposes you to less risk and allows for incremental growth. As an apparel business grows, re-orders can increase from 200 then 500 then up to 1000 or 2000 units. This allows you to scale your business at your own pace and removes the risk of holding a lot of inventory.

Quick Turn-Around Times

With local production, communication is fast, along with shipping and lead times. Each manufacturer is unique, but in general, domestic development and manufacturing timelines are about half to one third that of overseas. Excessive rounds of sampling are eliminated due to clear communication; you don’t have to wait for overseas shipments or hold-ups in customs.

Waste Reduction

Small scale production in the U.S. eliminates the waste of unneeded products otherwise made just to meet overseas minimums. Simplifying and controlling the development and manufacturing process will reduce thousands of waste garments by ensuring each item is wearable, fits properly and remains sellable. There are warehouses upon warehouses full of obsolete inventory and rejected goods. Manufacturing in the U.S. offers a sustainable approach.

Quality Control

During the manufacturing process, many quality issues may arise. Fabric flaws, finishing techniques or packaging among other things may cause hiccups. With the personal connection a domestic manufacturer provides, you will be informed of issues as they occur and solutions can be determined swiftly. This keeps production moving at a swift pace and ensures that the product meets all of your quality standards.

11
Apr
15

Bad Trade 

Bad Trade | Leo W. Gerard. From The Huffington Post.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Pact, another Free Trade Treaty, is scheduled to be voted upon this week. This artcile puts into real numbers just how bad our other Free Trade deals have affected the United States and our economy.

Bad Trade

 

Posted: 12/15/2014 9:08 am EST Updated: 02/14/2015 5:59 am EST
Written by Leo Gerard

Under billions of tons of imports, the American dream is suffocating.

The American people have lost faith. They know that bad trade has bled factories, middle class jobs and wage increases from the country.

A report issued last week by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) details how bad trade has cost Americans hope. And hope is the essence of the American dream, hope for a good, steady job with benefits and a pension, one that supports a family and a home, one that enables the kids to achieve even better lives. Bad trade has battered all of that. And more damage is threatened by pending trade deals and a so-called fast track process to approve them without in-depth deliberation.

2014-12-14-tradetable.png

The EPI report, China, Trade, Outsourcing and Jobs, details the devastation caused by just one trade arrangement, the deal to allow China to enter the World Trade Organization in 2001. After that, the United States’ trade deficit with China climbed dramatically.

As a result, EPI calculated that between 2001 and 2013, the United States lost 3.2 million jobs. Every state and every Congressional district except one lost jobs because of ever rising imports from China that were not matched by exports from the United States.

And most of the destroyed jobs – 2.4 million – were good, family-supporting manufacturing positions.

The workers jilted from those jobs suffered terribly. Those who could get new work earned less because pay for exporting industries and service employment is lower than that for jobs slashed by imports. EPI figures the net wage loss at $37 billion per year.

In addition, trade with low-wage countries like China suppressed pay in the United States by 5.5 percent – about $1,800 a year – for full-time workers without college degrees. The nation has 100 million such workers. That loss to them and the U.S. economy: $180 billion.

It’s gut wrenching. And Americans feel it. A New York Times poll released last week found the lowest level of faith in the American dream in two decades. Only 64 percent of those surveyed believed.

Despite low gas prices, declining unemployment, and falling foreclosures, Americans perceive a shrinking future.  That’s because virtually everyone knows someone who worked at a factory that closed.

Frank Walsh talked to the New York Times last week about what it’s like to lose a good job. He hasn’t worked as an electrician in four years. He’s run up $20,000 in credit card debt and withdrawn $15,000 from his retirement account. “I lost my sense of worth, you know what I mean?” Walsh told the New York Times.

He was among those polled by the Times, CBS News and Kaiser Family Foundation as they looked at the lives of the 30 million Americans aged 25 to 54 who are jobless. The share of unemployed men in this age group has more than tripled since the late 1960s.

The poll found the 10 million men in this group unhappy to be out of work and eager to find new jobs. Like Walsh, they struggle with loss of income and dignity.

Though skilled, Walsh couldn’t find new work that would enable him to earn what he did as a union electrician. Even for those willing to take minimum wage jobs, securing work isn’t easy, with 30 million unemployed people and 4.8 million job openings.

Eighty-five percent of the men in the survey did not have bachelor’s degrees. And for them, landing a family-supporting job is much harder than it once was. The Times explains why: “Foreign competition and technological advances have eliminated many of the jobs in which high school graduates like Mr. Walsh once could earn $40 an hour, or more.”

Foreign competition means trade.  And the problem for workers like Walsh is that there’s too much bad trade and very little done about it.

My union, the United Steelworkers, has fought bad trade vigorously, filing cases repeatedly with the U.S. Commerce Department seeking sanctions against foreign producers of steel, paper, tires and renewable energy technologies such as solar panels. To win these cases, though, the law says industry and workers must first suffer losses and unemployment. And wins too often are quickly followed by new losses.

Tires are a good example. The USW sought relief after imports of Chinese tires surged by 75 percent from 2004 to 2007. Four U.S. tire plants closed, destroying 5,100 jobs. Shortly after the USW petitioned for sanctions in 2009, three more factories shut down, killing an additional 3,000 jobs.

President Obama imposed three years of tariffs, and the U.S. tire industry rebounded, increasing production and employment. But as soon as the sanctions ended, Chinese tire imports surged again, and U.S. production and jobs declined again.

So the USW filed another trade case in June. A preliminary ruling by the Commerce Department determined sanctions were justified because China was providing improper subsidies to its tire makers.

And that’s the point. American workers aren’t whining. They can compete with anyone in the world on an even playing field. But when foreign countries provide illegal subsidies, manipulate their currency, and hand no-cost land, no-interest loans and tax breaks to producers, then it’s bad trade.

It’s trade that kills U.S. jobs and wrecks American lives. Producing in a country where exploitation of workers is permitted and environmental regulations are non-existent certainly lowers costs. But prohibited subsidies such as currency manipulation and tax forgiveness are much more significant.

American workers need a new kind of trade agreement, one that protects U.S. industry and workers from bad trade practices before they close factories, destroy jobs and devastate communities.

And yet, the United States is negotiating massive trade agreements with European and Pacific Rim nations in secret, so there’s no way to know if they are any different from previous bad trade deals. In addition, some supporters are seeking fast track negotiating authority under which Congress would relinquish its right to make changes.

Congress must reject fast track and realize its duty to protect American industry and workers. It must end bad trade to revive the American dream.

07
Apr
15

What is a Free Trade Treaty?

With the upcoming April 13, 2015 vote on The Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty (TPP), it may be important to know what a Free Trade treaty is (which the TPP is). This article is devoted to the non-economist in all of us.  But, in order to define “Free Trade”, we must first know what “Import Tax” is, because “Free Trade” basically eliminates import taxes. As I am writing this article for an American audience and will  use references specifically to the USA. For the bullet points, skip to the Economics for Dummies points.

Import Tax History in the USA

Import tax is a tax on materials that comes from other countries. It has two functions: 1) to protect businesses in the United States from foreign competition; and 2) to raise money for the government, so as to finance standing armies and other functions. Our forefathers knew that American businesses needed protection from foreign competition. In the original “Constitution” called the Articles of Confederation (1776-1783), which was a loosely based agreement of governance by the individual states, there was no import tax and American businesses suffered greatly from all the numerous British imports. After the Articles of Confederation was thrown out, the U.S. Constitution was written and ratified to establish a strong central government. Alexander Hamilton, founding father and first Secretary of the Treasury, established (or re-established like in colonial times) import taxes and protected American businesses from having to survive practices such as “dumping” – where a foreign country produces so much of the same product that it artificially drops the price of that object giving the foreign nation an unfair trading position. Economics For Dummies Point: Import Tax and “Protectionism” had been an unqualified success in the United States for over two centuries.

Inventing a New Way of Thinking – Free Trade

The “New Way of Thinking” actually came from very old thinking of Adam Smith (1723-1770) and his disciple David Ricardo (1772-1823) who wrote about the theory of comparative advantage in his 1817 book On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, it makes a case for free trade based not on absolute advantage in production of a good, but on the relative “opportunity costs” of production. A country should specialize in whatever good it can produce at the lowest cost, trading this good to buy other goods it requires for consumption. This allows for countries to benefit from trade even when they do not have an absolute advantage in any area of production. Criticism Of Ricardo’s theory: The theory was written in 1817, before there was Industrialization or mass production; before there was dependable transportation like steamships, freeways, semi-trucks, airplanes or goliath cargo ships; and well before globalization where you communicate instantly between countries  and before countries could “change their specialties” in a couple of years. None of Ricardo’s mathematical formulas even came close to addressing this.  And overall, very few countries practiced Free Trade Treaties and, therefore, it was put on the shelf for many years. It does seem that this 1817 theory would have absolutely no relevance to the late 20th or 21st Century, but we would be wrong. Economics For Dummies Point: Free Trade eliminates import taxes which makes cheap crap from China even cheaper.

The Return of Free Trade

So, why would this outmoded 1817 theory that was never truly tested have a comeback? Let us look at few of the factors. America’s hubris was at its highest, in the late 1970’s. America was definitely the number one economy in the world and the world’s largest manufacturer. There wasn’t even a close second. The U.S. ruled the entire world, installing puppet governments and paying other countries to be our friends (we still pay countries to be our friends). America could do no wrong.

Then, there was the new school of economists, now called Libertarian Economists (in classic economic terms it was called Liberal Economics but it became very confusing and so it is rarely called that) lead by Milton Friedman, (financial adviser to President Ronald Reagan) and later Alan Greenspan (chairman of the Federal Reserve) who had bold “new”plans like “Trickledown” economics, an obsolete policy that did not work in the 1920’s, where it proposed that if you gave more money (decreased taxes) to the richest people, this money would gradually trickle down to the masses (which it never did), and “De-regulation” where control is done only by the businesses themselves -like in the 1700s (As well as the aforementioned revival of Free Trade).

Then, there was also the “Mega” business movement. Within this movement (economists forgot 200 years of banking tradition), it proposed to make banks not only interstate, but also international. This created too big too fail banks who possessed more assets than most countries. With this “Mega Movement” regular companies jumped in and laws were allowed to let them become mega-companies. These Mega-companies by their sheer volume were able to artificially bringing prices down and therefore eliminated most small business and middle size companies. Thus, the “Big Box Store” boom was created and the importance of small businesses became a thing of the past. Economics for Dummies Point: Factors that allowed Free Trade to prosper was unimpeded greed.

The Passage of Free Trade Treaties

The first Free Trade Agreement was negotiated by the Reagan administration and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. This treaty was between the United States and Canada. The next free trade trade was spearheaded under the George H.W. Bush administration in 1990 which was to be called the North American Free Trade Treaty  (NAFTA) – an agreement between Mexico, the USA and Canada. NAFTA became famous as it was debated in the public forum (unlike all other Free Trade Treaties). In the Presidential Debates of 1992 between incumbent President Bush (R), Bill Clinton (D) and third party candidate Ross Perot, Mr. Perot correctly predicted if the U.S. passed NAFTA “we would hearing “a giant sucking sound” coming from the south, which was his colorful phrase for the future term called offshoring. Bill Clinton won the 1992 election and NAFTA passed in 1994. Within 8 years, 700,000 American jobs were sent to Mexico. Here is a classic example of NAFTA: Hershey’s Chocolates no longer make any chocolate in the United States, it is all made in Mexico. As Hershey’s offshored all of its US jobs to Mexico it has created numerous manufacturing ghost towns of cities like Oakdale, CA, Robinson, IL, Hazelton, PA, Stuart’s Draft, VA  Naugatuck, CT and, Hershey’s PA.

Then, came the mother of all Free Trade agreements, with the formation on January 1, 1995 of the World Trade Organization. Talks had started in earnest under The Ronald Reagan administration in 1986 to replace the previous world agreement called The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) – the most successful world agreement in history running from 1/1/48 to 1/1/95 (although it had been reality been phased out in 1986). With the GATT agreement, there were many agreements with favored countries to lower import tax rates. But with the WTO – this became an agreement with 161 countries with China joining in 2001. The WTO had really forced down import tax rate on products shipped to America.

Historically, in the 1800’s the average rate on import tax was anywhere from 15% up to 50%. From 1960-1970, the import tax rate was between 6.0 – 7.3%. In 2015, the import tax rate into the United States on average is 1.5% which is one of the lowest if not the lowest in the world. And with extremely low rate, it has allowed countries like China to overproduce and drive out U.S. businesses or even worse caused U.S. companies to pack up and join the enemy – offshoring of U.S. jobs. Economics for Dummies Point: Free Trade Agreements have virtually eliminated import taxes allowing companies to offshore U.S. jobs

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The Effect of the WTO

Below are two graphs. One is the loss of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. due to Free Trade and the second graph is the actual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures (a way to characterize economic growth) of the U.S and China. Note in 1999, China was preparing to join the WTO (which it did in 2001) by revving up its factories as it knew that this was exactly the time that the United States was eliminating quotas (The quota laws called the Multi Fibre Acts were passed in 1974 to protect U.S. companies from “dumping”). And then China continuously dumped their untaxed products onto the United States. Did David Ricardo predict this? Did Milton Friedman predict this? No, only Ross Perot did.

 

Loss of US manufacturing jobs 1980-2012. NAFTA 1994, WTO 1995, China joins WTO 2001

Loss of US manufacturing jobs 1980-2012. NAFTA 1994, WTO 1995, China joins WTO 2001

 

 

U.S, China, India GDP growth from 2003 - 2015

U.S, China, India GDP growth from 2001 – 2015

Besides NAFTA and the World Trade Organization which affects 160 other countries, the United States also has 13 other smaller Free Trade agreements. Really too small to even mention individually. Economics For Dummies Point: Free Trade Agreements are devastating to the U.S. economy especially the World Trade Organization.

Other Criticisms of Free Trade

There are many arguments besides economic against Free trade policies. First, Free Trade heavily favors large corporations destroying infant industries as well as the small and medium sized companies. It undermines long-run economic development – it is difficult to revive manufacturing ghost towns, and difficult to plan for growth when American jobs can be offshored at any time. Free Trade has definitely caused income inequality, and environmental degradation.

Born to Work Picture from the Daily Beast in 2009

Born to Work
Picture from the Daily Beast in 2009

Free Trade is supportive of countries sticking to their native practices which often means supporting child labor and working in sweatshops where workers get no benefits in often poorly ventilated and dangerous work environments.

Bangladesh factory collapse

Bangladesh factory collapse

Free Trade has definitely caused the race to the bottom, wage slavery, accentuating poverty in poor countries, harming national defense, and forcing cultural change. One additional criticism is that it allows large corporations to ignore local, state and governmental rules and laws: U.S. Appeals WTO Ruling on Meat Labeling Laws – where the American Meat Institute refused to label their meats as to where the originated. Instead of raising global standards, free trade tries to lower standards of countries that are more advanced. All of these inequities have been created so you can buy cheap crap from China at even lower prices. Economics for Dummies Point: If You Think Free Trade is Good, Then You Are a Sociopath.

What To Do About The Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty?

Do we really need another free trade agreement, our import tax rate is already a record low at 1.5%. We already know the economic impact of previous Free Trade policies. It has been very devastating to the U.S. economy. If you want to stop the TPP from becoming a reality, you will need to write, or e-mail or tweet your Congressman. I have a link that will get you the address or email of your Senator: Listing of U.S. Senator addresses. Write today. the job you save may be your own or at least your neighbors. Stop the TPP!

 

 

05
Apr
15

At American Apparel, new CEO aims to bring order, culture shift – LA Times

At American Apparel, new CEO aims to bring order, culture shift – LA Times.

At American Apparel, New CEO Aims to Bring Order, Culture Shift

The alterations underway at American Apparel Inc. are evident in its advertising. Gone are the half-naked young women splayed on billboards and print ads. These days, the models tend to be fully dressed in the company’s hip basics.

The salacious images were part of the freewheeling style of founder Dov Charney. His tenure was also marked by loose corporate operations, financial losses and sexual harassment allegations that sparked a board revolt and Charney’s ouster last year.

American Apparel ads will still have an edge — some incorporating social issues such as gay rights, bullying or women’s equality — but they won’t be “sexual for sexual’s sake,” new Chief Executive Paula Schneider said in an interview with The Times.

Schneider, a longtime clothing executive who took over in January, hopes to transform more than the advertising at the Los Angeles clothing firm, which employs nearly 10,000 people and operates almost 250 stores. In nearly five years, American Apparel has lost $310 million. Its debt totals more than $200 million.

Beyond toning down the oversexed image, Schneider aims to install a more grown-up structure and culture to replace Charney’s eccentric micromanagement. Schneider is focused on the boring-but-important details of hiring — and empowering — experienced managers and drawing up evaluation protocols and organizational charts.

Schneider, 56, has spent decades at clothing retailers and manufacturers. She has held senior executive positions at retailers such as BCBG Max Azria and Laundry by Shelli Segal. At BCBG Max Azria, she helped steer the company to profitability, and at Warnaco Group, she aided in a corporate restructuring.

Since arriving at American Apparel in January, Schneider has sought to order the corporate chaos without sacrificing the brand’s soul.

“It’s getting everybody in their lane and understanding we have a common goal,” she said. “There is tremendous energy here; there is tremendous love for the brand; there are tremendous ideas. It’s just a matter of saying: What do we do with them? How do we harness it? What do we do to move it down the road?”

Schneider’s management style is sharply different from Charney’s, who often inserted himself into the smallest details. Charney handpicked models for ads, selected fabrics and even cleaned retail stockrooms.

No Longer will we see this on billboards from American Apparel

Billboards like this from American Apparel will be a thing of the past.

American Apparel’s new chairwoman, Colleen Brown, said Schneider was tapped in part for her ability to instill organization.

Under Charney, the company didn’t have many of the formal controls common at public companies, she said. There was no standard method for performance reviews, for example, and department heads had no regular meetings.

“The really easy things are hard at American Apparel,” Brown said. “Just basic systems and processes that allow you to make decisions easily.”

Schneider has a track record of boosting ailing companies, Brown said.

“She has driven several turnarounds in her career, and that was an important thing to consider when we were looking for a CEO,” she said. “The company has not made money for a while, so we needed someone who could get a strategic plan and put it into place.”

Schneider still has until April 5 before she is required to present her operational plan to the board, according to a security filing that detailed her contract. Barely two months into the job, Schneider has already started making changes.

One example: She has bulked up the planning department, which orders raw materials to keep the factories humming. With better forecasting, the company can save money by buying more yarn overseas or can ship supplies and products by ground instead of air, Schneider said.

Last month, the company fired its two longtime creative directors, Iris Alonzo and Marsha Brady, both Charney allies. Schneider said the firings weren’t a result of poor performance but merely a shift in creative direction.

“We have a lot of really talented people, but young,” Schneider said, adding that some lack the formal training and education typically found at a major manufacturer.

She has already made product changes too.

Fewer styles will be offered in the fall season, Schneider said. Instead the company will concentrate on offering styles in more color variations, a move to avoid a problem that analysts say plagued American Apparel: offering too many products, many that didn’t sell well.

E-commerce will also get a close look. Among the new hires is American Apparel’s first chief digital officer, who will be in charge of improving the online shopping experience and boosting digital sales, Schneider said.

The company currently gets only 15% of its sales from e-commerce. By comparison, teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch’s online side accounted for 20.2% of net sales in the first three quarters of its 2014 fiscal year.

“When we look at it compared to our peers, there is a lot more room to grow,” Schneider said.

Each department was also tasked with coming up with its own budget for the year, in sharp contrast to the “top down” approach of the past, she said.

Schneider said she has no choice but to push decision-making power down through the ranks.

“When you have a founder that knows everything about the business … you come in and you are not that person,” she said. “You have to have some people in each area that are going to be the leaders in order to function.”

Ilse Metchek, president of the California Fashion Assn., said Schneider may struggle to win over employees and institute a more traditional corporate culture.

“Everyone there was hired by Dov — and everyone is still probably loyal to Dov,” she said.

One core feature of American Apparel — its made-in-USA model — will remain firmly in place.

Walking through the factory filled with the steady hum of sewing machines, Schneider marveled at the scale of the operations, in an 800,000-square-foot salmon-colored building in downtown Los Angeles.

Echoing Charney, Schneider bragged about the company’s ability to quickly whip up new garments and get them to its shops.

The company can get a new product into stores on a Thursday and know if it’s a strong seller by Monday, she said. Then the local factory can immediately respond.

“We can make that same version, we can make it in colors, we can make it longer, shorter, long sleeved, short sleeved, and we can put it into our stores in a week,” she said.

Schneider compared American Apparel’s main factory, which employs more than 3,000 cutters, sewers and other workers, to “a city.”

The facility also includes an on-site medical clinic and masseuses that offer free massages. The operation is so vast that Schneider said she prefers to think of slices of the company individually.

“Otherwise,” she quipped, “I’d be up all night.”

shan.li@latimes.com

Twitter: @ByShanLi

04
Apr
15

From Cotton to Customer: How Your T-Shirt is Made

From Cotton to Customer: How Your T-Shirt is Made | Maker’s Row Blog.

From Cotton to Customer: How Your T-Shirt is Made

 Field To Gin

american manufacturing factory production cotton process t-shirt american made cotton gin farm screen printing makers row

The cotton balls are put into a gin where the usable cotton is mechanically separated from the seeds and chaff. Modern cotton gins use multiple powered cleaning cylinders and saws which leads to higher productivity and less labor intensive work than previous methods required.

Spinner to Loom

american manufacturing factory production cotton process t-shirt american made cotton gin farm screen printing makers row

Bales of cotton fibers are spun at a facility where they are carded, combed and blended. Before the carding stage, which involves separating the fibers into loose strands, the cotton is taken off a picking machine. The spun cotton is then knit on a loom (the weaving process) into a rough greyish fabric.

Wet Processing

The fabric is treated with heat and chemicals where is takes on its final touch and appearance. Examples of this include bleaching, printing, and dyeing. At this stage, the fabric goes through inspection for grey textile. This process is typically divided into three separate stages of preparation, coloration, and finishing. Fabric are “finished” to the desired softness and coloring.

Cut and Sew

american manufacturing factory production cotton process t-shirt american made cotton gin farm screen printing makers row

Often times the finished fabric travels great distances to its next stop, the sewing facility. 15% of the fabric will end up on the cutting room floor as sewers create the blank garments.

Transforming Into a Perfect Print

american manufacturing factory production cotton process t-shirt american made cotton gin farm screen printing makers row

The customer contacts a screen-printing facility to finalize design specifics. At this stage, Pantone colors, sizing, placement, and ink type are all confirmed. Each color in the artwork is separated and printed onto clear film.  This is called a film positive.

Screen Printing

american manufacturing factory production cotton process t-shirt american made cotton gin farm screen printing makers row

The films are used to expose the image onto mesh screens that have a photo sensitive emulsion. Each screen is exposed on a vacuum sealed UV Light table. The screens are rinsed with water and the images are checked for accuracy. The screens are registered into place on an automatic screen press that can print up 900 t-shirts an hour! Each screen has a unique color loaded into it with either plastisol or waterbased ink.

american manufacturing factory production cotton process t-shirt american made cotton gin farm screen printing makers row

At Your Door

american manufacturing factory production cotton process t-shirt american made cotton gin farm screen printing makers row

In the last stage, the printed t-shirts are folded, sorted and placed into inventory. When an order is placed online the t-shirt is pulled from inventory, packed and shipped to its new home.

This article was lifted from the blog of Maker’s Row which has many fine articles about U.S. made products. Maker’s Row helps many entrepreneurs find U.S. factories that can make their products.




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