Abstract:As recently as 1997, over 40% of all apparel purchased in the US was produced domestically. Today, that figure is less than 3%. Given high labour costs, can the US find opportunities in the global apparel market to increase domestic production while simultaneously improving environmental and social performance? This paper explores a potential hybrid solution combining knowledge of the sustainable apparel marketplace with a fast-fashion model that relies on a supply chain that matches shorter-cycle, flexible production with higher product differentiation. Compared with today's dominant model of offshore production in low-cost-labour countries, onshoring more of the supply chain to the US would facilitate quicker response to actual customer demand while manufacturing in a less pollution-intensive manner owing to proximity and tougher domestic environmental rules and enforcement. An environmental review captures differences between the hybrid sustainable apparel/fast fashion-based system and the offshore alternative. A first-trial gross operating profitability assessment indicates that the hybrid system can be more profitable than the offshoring model under conditions that already exist for European-based retailers. This paper shows how, taken together, alternative production methods could support relocalisation of apparel manufacturing in the US, thereby increasing local jobs, resource productivity and brand security.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2012-03-01
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- The Journal of Corporate Citizenship focuses explicitly on integrating theory about corporate citizenship with management practice. This means that the journal provides a forum in which the tensions and practical realities of making corporate citizenship real are addressed in a reader-friendly, yet conceptually and empirically rigorous format. The Journal of Corporate Citizenship aims to publish the best ideas integrating the theory and practice of corporate citizenship in a format that is readable, accessible, engaging, interesting and useful for readers in business, consultancy, government, NGOs and academia. This peer-reviewed journal encourages practical, theoretically sound, and (when relevant) empirically rigorous manuscripts that address real-world implications of corporate citizenship in global and local contexts.
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