"This is great, where's It Made?"

November 16, 2015

This is great, where's it made?

 

We build products for people who build things, so we've always expected to hear, "hey this is great, where's it made?"   We hear it all the time. 

Initially we expected that everyone wanted to us to respond, "made in the USA".

What we've come to understand has heartened and impressed us. Our customers, diverse and thoughtful, expect and appreciate a more complex, fluid and nuanced answer.

I'll try to summarize our approach as it is today.

Let me first say that despite all the effort we put into how and where we make our products, we don't have all the answers and are continually looking to broaden our perspective and seek better solutions. (what follows is largely taken from an email response to a "where's it made?" question). 

WHERE & HOW

Truewerk operates globally; currently working with companies in Taiwan, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Nicaragua, China, Vietnam and the US to design, develop, cut-and-sew, transport and ultimately deliver products to our customers around the world.

We employ designers, developers, fit models and others on front-end processes as well as post-assembly workers like logistics experts, shipping and receiving personnel, photographers, web developers, social media experts, sales staff and many others here in the US.

Much, but not all, of our cut-and-sew assembly currently takes place in Asia. The rationale for cut-and-sew taking place there extends well beyond simple cost, although this is a factor, and includes:

  • our ability to efficiently source high-end technical materials and construction capabilities,
  • finding quantities of workers skilled enough that factories can be profitable while producing in small volumes - a subtle but critically important point,
  • finding factories that are willing to work with young companies / brands (often this is driven by the entrepreneurial spirit of the owner who has to be willing to take his chances on a new brand),
  • the depth of suppliers in a given region (for example, the bonded zippers used on our pants and jackets are built at a neighboring subcontractor with expertise in that technique).
  • the cost and time associated with development. 

FOCUS ON PEOPLE FIRST. THEN, FOCUS ON PEOPLE. 

Spending months each year overseas, we have developed close relationships with our suppliers, knowing the people there personally just as we do our US-based team. Our priorities in choosing our suppliers are very similar to those for evaluating our employees, retailers and even our customers. They include:

  • our ability to help make them successful (e.g. will the margin / value created by our business together help enable them to maintain a healthy business / life),
  • their dedication to and quality of their work,
  • how their employees are treated, how they treat their customers, how they treat us (over time, we find these will be the same - it comes down to how they value people)
  • the long-term viability of our cooperation with them (in other words, are labor rates, taxes / duties, etc. going to change in the next 2-5 years such that we would not be able to continue our work together).

    WAGE, VALUE & UNDERSTANDING CULTURE 

    While we continue to look for options to expand work performed in the US / Colorado, we are also concerned with what it means for work to be done here. Perhaps you remember the emphasis once placed on "Union Made"? With or without unions, we do believe it's important that the people we hire (regardless of their location) are able to make a livable wage AND contribute enough value to our customers to sustain their employment.


    Further, we believe that Truewerk is part of a global community. Trade and cooperation between countries has long been a source of global stability and shared understanding between cultures - the need for both of which has never been greater than it is today.


    So, as we consider the impacts of how we best keep today's workers safe, comfortable and looking sharp, it is with all of these factors and more in mind.


    As always we would listen to and appreciate your constructive input on this topic!


    - Brian & the Truewerk Pro-Service Team


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