I know there are mixed feelings towards ‘Made in China’. The perception that quality is poor because of it’s ‘Country of Origin’ is misguided and out-dated and I have a couple of insights as to why.
But before I share, consider this…….if I asked you to sit down & make yourself a piece of clothing – a shirt, a knit, or a jacket – would you know how to? Would you want to & more to the point, do you have TIME!
If you said No, I’m with you. I’d give the same answer. I know how to do it, but it’s not how I want to spend my time. The clothing I can buy commercially made in a factory is far superior to what I can make for myself (especially knitwear).
My first visit to China, just over 10 years ago had me in awe. In fact, it was transformative. Everything I’d learned in theory in both my design degree and on the job, suddenly clicked. Prior to going, I assumed knitwear was made on automated machines.
How naïve I was.
On my first ever factory visit, I was met with the zooming noise and row upon row of men standing and pushing a carriage back and forth, manually operating knitting machines. I was completely in awe. The quality of the product that came from these humble machines was amazing. It was commercial, retail standard knitwear in cottons or wool, and it was still being made by hand.
It was the beginning of an appreciation for process, product and people – the art of manufacturing. It’s an appreciation that has only continued to grow more and more with experience and time.
Design & style are the more well-known parts of the clothing puzzle, which I love. But the reason I can appreciate it so much, is because of my first-hand experience of knowing how it’s made, where it’s made & what it’s made from. These are the key factors that determine quality & the other part of the puzzle.
The ability of Chinese communities to adapt & learn new techniques, as well as create systems for efficiency & production are their strengths. It’s the reason we can enjoy the variety of product we do.
For me, appreciating how something is made only increases my love for the style & design even more – encompassing process, product & people. As a culture, the Chinese have an ability to make things from such humble means. It is an under-appreciated strength.
I have purposely steered my career to be working with quality product, because that’s what I value. Of the chinese suppliers I’ve worked with for over 10 years, I’ve been fortunate enough to mostly work with like-minded businesses who also value quality. Many are independent or family run businesses just like we have in Australia, where they are doing their darn-dest to make a living, just as much as we are.