The world contains five primary textile production zones: China, Bangladesh/Pakistan, India, Italy and Turkey. While other countries also export garments, it is these five regions that dominate the industry. Here’s the thing, though — each region offers it own unique advantages and disadvantages.
To be successful in fashion (especially if you are interested in starting your own brand), you need to understand the benefits and drawbacks to each of these regions. The assumption, of course, is that you are going to outsource your manufacturing. By the way, we highly recommend you do outsource!
Why Should You Outsource?
Before we get into the precise advantages and disadvantages for each world region, we want to quickly review the many reasons why you should consider outsourcing your fashion manufacturing.
Reduced Labour Costs: British workers must be paid the federal minimum wage, which at the moment (April 2014) is £6.50. Unfortunately, these costs get funnelled directly to you when you work with a UK manufacturer. When you outsource instead, however, you get to deal with manufacturers that aren’t limited by such regulations. As a result, you incur lower costs.
Reduced Overhead Costs: Manufacturers must also contend with costs for electricity, gasoline, water, etc. And not surprisingly, the costs for these utilities are much higher in the UK than they are in countries/regions like China and India, to name a few.
Improved Quality: This may surprise you, but many offshore manufacturers offer even better quality products than their onshore counterparts. Why? They have been manufacturing for decades. Furthermore, because of the reduced costs in their respective countries, they have more money to dedicate to quality assurance.
Reduced Risk: Outsourcing can also result in reduced risks, assuming you do it right. The key lies in outsourcing your manufacturing to SEVERAL offshore suppliers and manufacturers. This case you have backup solutions available immediately in case something goes wrong, e.g., a manufacturer suddenly goes out of business.
What Are The Pros/Cons Of Working With China?
China represents the largest exporter of textile goods in the world. In fact, the Chinese manufacturer Esquel just happens to be the largest producer of standard cotton t-shirts, with yearly output levels exceeding 60 million.
Unfortunately, China is not as up to date on trends and fashion as it should be. Suffice it to say, it’s better at producing sportswear and technical garments than it is at producing genuinely fashionable items.
One great benefit to China, however, is that it offers incredible prices courtesy its incredibly low labour and overhead costs. Keep in mind that workers in China are starting to call for better working conditions and wages. As this movement continues (which it should), the prices will likely increase.
Other things to know about China include the fact that its manufacturing firms tend to be extraordinary large. Also, it’s lead times tend to be extraordinarily long. The average time is 90 days, excluding 30 days of freight. Plus, Chinese manufacturers demand high minimum order quantities (MOQs) in the 1000 to 10,000 range.
What Are The Pros/Cons Of Working With Bangladesh/Pakistan?
Bangladesh and Pakistan offer some of the lowest prices in the textile industry. This is because while 38% of the entire work force in this region is involved in textiles, a large majority of that workforce is compromised of unskilled labourers. Plus, these countries rely on poor material handling techniques and outdated equipment.
Because of these factors, the quality of goods from Bangladesh and Pakistan is that all that great. Suffice it to say, it’s not a good idea to use one of these two countries for more sophisticated designs.
Other things to know is that the lead time from this region is as bad as the lead time from China. Plus, the MOQs are just as high.
What Are The Pros/Cons Of Working With India?
Let’s start with some basics. India offers mid-level MOQs and long production lead times. Furthermore, its prices are lower than that of China, but not as low as that of Pakistan and Bangladesh.
India also lacks when it comes to sophisticated fashion items, though it does perform well with hand-based items (think beads).
Keep in mind that India contains a rich base of raw materials. Plus, its workers are able to handle a variety of materials, from cotton to wol, silk and jute.
What Are The Pros/Cons Of Working With Italy?
Italy has really nice MOQs and a decent freight time of 60 days, including 10 days freight. Also, Italy is equipped to produce high-quality fashion items, from blouses to dresses, suits and more. Plus, the Italian people themselves are very appreciative of aesthetics. It shows in their work!
Italy also happens to be a first world country. As a result, it makes sure to enforce fair working practices. This means that its manufacturers must contend with much higher labour and overhead costs, which in turn means that the prices for goods are significantly higher in Italy than they are in its Far East and Southeast peers.
What Are The Pros/Cons Of Working With Turkey?
Turkey represents the best of the best, and for many good reasons:
- It hosts a quick and powerful production capacity courtesy.
- It offers relatively cheap labour (workers earn £1.47 per hour).
- It’s lead time is only 60 days, including 10 days freight.
- It follows all international environmental standards.
- It’s known for fairly low MOQs around 100 to 300.
- It utilizes a unified monetary policy.
Plus, Turkish manufacturers can make anything, including t-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, jeans, knitwear and more. All of these can be had at prices that aren’t as low as China, but that surely aren’t as high as Italy either! This makes Turkey the perfect middle-of-the-ground region for textile manufacturers.
Is There Anything Else To Know?
There is a lot more to know. If you are serious about outsourcing, make sure you take the time to learn a lot more about the region that most interests you. Do not just trust our summary. You need to be equipped with as much knowledge as possible if you want a chance in hell of succeeding in this very tough industry!