T-Shirt Manufacturing in the USA?
You many not realize this but the majority of t-shirts today are not made in the USA. Most of the country’s top mills(i.e. Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, Gildan, etc.) do most if not all of their manufacturing outside of the USA. If you check the labels in the shirts you will see a variety of countries. Think Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, etc. I have been down to Honduras personally and I can tell you that t-shirt manufacturing is serious business down there. They have terrific facilities and have a workforce that is willing to work for less money. Also, these countries are very close in proximity to the USA. This means quick turnaround time and less freight costs. These lower costs help companies like The Adair Group sell cheaper. Countries in the far east can produce tees for a low price but for this market the turnaround time and elevated freight costs make it less desirable.
It wasn’t that long ago that all t-shirt and sweatshirt manufacturing was done in the USA. Martinsville, VA was known as the sweatshirt capital of the world. Mills like Tultex and Bassett-Walker dominated the landscape. Alabama was also a big hub as it was home to Russell. But times change. When the USA signed NAFTA enabling free trade with Mexico things started to move overseas and have yet to really come back.
However, in the past year or two I have started to hear talk about manufacturing coming back. Wouldn’t that be cool! They say everything comes full circle so we will have to see. I know the US economy sure would enjoy this but there is one catch. The way for manufacturing to come back would mean we would have to be more efficient. Robots would be replacing humans in the manufacturing facilities. So on one hand it would help the economy but on the other it would create less jobs than you would think.
All of this talk is just one t-shirt executives opinion but we will just wait and see what happens.