Predicting the Best
Countries for Manufacturing
China is the largest apparel producer in the world, but as U.S.–China relations change, and as apparel manufacturing costs rise, apparel manufacturers are looking to do business in other countries. Robin Baxter, assistant professor of Fashion Business Management, and Sonja Chapman, associate professor of International Trade and Marketing and associate chair of Home Products Development, are conducting research into the viability of countries outside of China as apparel manufacturers by analyzing factors that contribute to growth in production and how this growth could be leveraged to diversify a company’s sourcing base. Furthermore, they are examining the correlation of these factors to the growth of imported apparel, both cotton and synthetic fibers (for example, polyester, acrylic, polypropylene, and viscose). The scope of research will include three quantitative factors: movement of populations from rural to urban areas, government support for the apparel/textile industry, and access to fiber and fabric resources. It will also include four qualitative factors: political change, cultural issues and shifts, economic disruption and supply chain Issues, and environmental issues. These new factors build on three existing factors previously under consideration: U.S. general import units by apparel category, minimum wages, and population and logistics performance as evaluated by the World Bank Logistics Performance Indicators (LPI). Additional testing of the predictive tool will include evaluation by industry partners to ensure this resource meets companies’ needs.