A recent US conference and study tour looked at the role played by new technology against a backdrop of off-shore sourcing, quick response and made-to-measure. Its conclusions make interesting reading. For instance, Gerber Technology’s James Arthurs explained that for the western apparel industry to survive it must emigrate production to cheaper labor cost countries. Cliff Battle, from the men’s wear company Structure, warned that in true supplier/retailer partnerships, both need to work together to make and sell good quality garments at a profit. To make this relationship work, his company enforces a strict quality assurance code. An alternative to importing production is to offer quick response and mass customization, and made-to-measure suit manufacturer Pietrafesa has over four years’ experience in this field.

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