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Critics hate RL's US Olympic Team Uniforms

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Maximus Rex, Jul 12, 2012.

  1. Frankie22

    Frankie22 Senior member

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    I do. The cost of doing business overseas is driven up by the tariffs and taxes, plus logistics and shipping. Not actual labor, which is dirt cheap. My point is that we could compete on the global stage because said secondary factors, if the US got serious about domestic tax breaks, unions stopped acting irrational and we created some damn jobs.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2012
  2. Frankie22

    Frankie22 Senior member

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    It's not about about the labor overall -- it's about the taxes, tarifs logistics and shipping costs that a company incurs abroad -- that is why we would be able to compete (if the unions relaxed and the US got serious about providing tax benefits to big producers).
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2012
  3. cptjeff

    cptjeff Senior member

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    Wrong. Utterly wrong. The US, and other industrialized nations, cannot compete for unskilled labor. We can compete where precision is important, or when you want close control of your product line. Any unskilled labor jobs are as ancillary parts to production that requires skill at some other point- building a housing for a delicate instrument, for example. You could build the housing in china, the instrument here and combine them, but if you already have a facility here, the flexibility of your product line being local is valuable enough that you pay the increased labor cost- you you need to redesign that housing, you get the new ones built in two days rather than two weeks, for example.

    Skilled manufacturing we can compete on, but in that area, we aren't competing on price so much as the quality of work.

    Making jeans is not skilled labor, and it's never coming back to the US, even if we gut labor and environmental protections. Hate to break it to you, but that's a pipe dream.
     
  4. Frankie22

    Frankie22 Senior member

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    Making luxury garments is not a skilled activity? I'm referring to "high end" suiting, I thought that is what we were discussing.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2012
  5. cptjeff

    cptjeff Senior member

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    It's really not. Despite what Rush Limbaugh screams at you, the US is low to middle of the road when it comes to effective tax burdens. Yes, our marginal rates are high, but there are so many loopholes and tax shelters available that nobody large enough to afford a tax lawyer or two pays it. There's not a whole lot of unionization left in the US, you're screaming at a boogieman.

    Tariffs? We don't have much in the way of tariffs. Yeah, we could up them dramatically, but then other countries up theirs, and all of a sudden, GM can't export, and Airbus takes over the Asian markets Boeing has been so carefully cultivating.

    Unskilled manufacturing will never come back to the US. Face it and move on.
     
  6. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    Ralph Lauren made a strategic mistake which has cost him some goodwill, and the shame of it is that they squandered a crapload of potential to capitalize on a trend that has passed the early adopter stage and into the mainstream. There are some very well known mid-tier American manufacturers who could have made the uniforms that Ralph designed. Southwick comes immediately to mind. "Ralph Lauren works with American manufacturers to make the US Olympic Uniforms" would have been a very compelling storyline. I know that RL does not have the same marketing strategy as J.Crew, but there's not shame to taking a page from a competitor's playbook, especially when you have such a unique opportunity.
     
  7. lasbar

    lasbar Senior member

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    I had the same conversation with an English colleague...

    Are people ready to pay goods produced in the UK after being used to Cheap goods?

    The answer is no...

    We can be uber capitalists believing in open trade agreement and suddenly wanting to change the rules of the game to protect our own interests...

    I believe we have a duty to protect our skill base and industries but I do also believe in a certain dose of protectionism because I'm also a social-democrat..

    We have a duty to take care of our own workers whilst spreading our wealth to other countries ..

    A difficult act to balance as people are readily ready to sacrifice others to enjoy/protect their own standard of living..
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2012
  8. Frankie22

    Frankie22 Senior member

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    Rush Limbaugh?
    I would consider luxury clothing manufacture to be a skilled labor.
     
  9. Frankie22

    Frankie22 Senior member

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    Absolutely.
     
  10. cptjeff

    cptjeff Senior member

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    You were attacking strawmen. I don't know what we were discussing.
     
  11. Saturdays

    Saturdays Senior member

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    Sadly there would be no story if they did go with US manufacturer's from the start.
     
  12. cptjeff

    cptjeff Senior member

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    Anything assembly line where each person is taught to only do one task isn't. Without knowing the details of RL's factory setup, I'm assuming this is the case. One person cuts out pre set patterns. The next stitches some canvas on. Somebody else irons on fusing. The next 14 year old girl sews the various pieces together. The next one attaches the sleeves and lining.

    Skilled manufacturing, in economic parlance, requires significant expertise. Running a computer controlled lathe (or four at a time, which is fairly standard these days) to make a precision sensor with a tolerance measured within a few microns, for example. The quality of the final product does not determine whether labor is skilled or not.
     
  13. Nicola

    Nicola Senior member

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  14. Frankie22

    Frankie22 Senior member

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    Ok who is operating the cutting machines, etc.
     
  15. Nicola

    Nicola Senior member

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    Turning a machine on. Maybe clearing a jam or other routine stuff isn't the sort of things that require years of training.

    The skill set a tailor needs is far higher then the people running those machines.

    My guess is there is a very small number of "skilled" people in those operations. Somebody that creates the patterns. Some techs that fix the machines.

    But the main problem with arguing about "skilled" jobs is the belief they won't be equally or more skilled. I'm old enough to remember Jap crap and how people looked down their noses at stuff from Japan. I remember the first person on the block to buy a Japanese car.
     
  16. cptjeff

    cptjeff Senior member

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    As I understand it, in China, punches and a hydraulic press still rule the day. Those machines are expensive. You absolutely don't get a human hand cutting around patterns like many here may be envisioning from watching BBC videos about Saville Row, but there probably is a human involved. You're talking 50 layers of fabric, a metal punch that looks like a giant cookie cutter, and a big press that pushes it through the fabric. Takes one, maybe two people to run, and it's much cheaper than the computerized machine would be (without asking for pricing). If you have a great need for precision, something like that is called for. Ferrari's leather seats are probably cut on something like that. But your jeans or the pieces on your blazer? Probably not.
     
  17. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    There are tons of factories in China that can and do churn out "high end" suits. If you are talking about Neapolitan completely handmade pieces, that's another beast altogether, of course, but we are not talking about $5K suits here.

    Also, Frankie, if people are actually willing to work under hard conditions for lower wages, why is it that farmers are having real problems finding enough harvesters, especially for crops like cherries, now that a lot of Mexicans are finding the political and economic climate unappealing? Yes, people will work for lower wages and under harder conditions, but I think that you underestimate just how much lower those wages (and benefits) are, and how much harder working conditions can get. They only way to get Americans to work those jobs would be to literally throw people out on the street with no social safety net, something that no one except the most stupid people would want.
     
  18. Nicola

    Nicola Senior member

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    I think it's going to depend on the plant. My understanding is the plants built by some of the Italian companies are very modern. The cost of the machine is offset by things like less waste on material.
     
  19. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    This is pretty much right. Actually, having been a lots and lots of factory tours, I think that I can safely say that a factory in Brooklyn is not that different from a factory in Italy, is that not different from a Chinese factory. For huge volumes, it makes sense to mechanize, but human labor, for the most part, is cheaper, and definitely not as capital intensive. Retooling machines requires real skilled labor, and takes time.


    Actually, human hands are remarkably cheap. How else do you think you can get MTM shirts from overseas, shipped to your door, for under a C-note?
     
  20. Nicola

    Nicola Senior member

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    Cheap to make one shirt is different then cheap to make 1000. The machines make sense in high volume.
     

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