Throughout the making of this podcast, one of the questions we’ve had floating around in our minds was: how did we get here? There are a lot of ways to tackle this question, a lot of different moments across time and space that we could use to start the story.
One of those is the offshoring of manufacturing in the United States and Europe. Sure, there’s the simple narrative we often hear: the cost of labor got too expensive. This, combined with advances in logistics, technology, and certain trade policies, resulted in production being moved abroad and the long, complex supply networks we see today.
But we wanted to talk to someone who worked for a brand and experienced this transition to dig a little deeper. Which parts of the product development and production processes were brands responsible before the offshoring of production versus afterwards? How did this impact skillsets and knowledge of production processes within brands? And how has this shift in knowledge and skillsets affected price negotiations with suppliers?
Tara St. James is the wearer of many hats. She’s a founder at Resource Library – the United States’ first free-standing sustainable textiles library, owner and creative director of Study NY, a sustainable womenswear brand made in NYC, and an adjunct professor at FIT, Fashion Institute of Technology.
Perhaps counterintuitively, the starting point for all of these fabulous projects, and her own sustainability journey, was her first job working for a much more mainstream fashion brand – just as the industry was adjusting to offshore production.
Want to dig deeper?
Learn more about Tara’s made-in-NYC womenswear brand Study New York.
Read this article by Elizabeth Cline, published by the New Fashion Initiative, about ReSource Library – the United States’ first free-standing sustainable textiles library.
Photo by Ivan Karpov