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Why are so many new designers bringing production back home?

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Over the past few weeks, you many have noticed some new names popping up on the Glass Pineapple site – and there’s more still to come. We’re very excited to bring you a trio of exceptional young brands: Wood'd, LEGX and MAST (arriving soon!). Hailing from Italy, Spain and the USA respectively, we fell in love with their beautifully crafted products and conscious design ethos. And one thing that we noticed all three had in common was a commitment to produce in their home country – something that we’ve noticed is becoming increasingly popular among new labels. So, we asked ourselves, how come so many young designers, who you’d think would be in the greatest need of low cost outsourced labour, are doing just the opposite?

Firstly, there’s an obvious ethical issue at stake. Ever since the Rana Plaza disaster (in which an appalling 1133 people died and further 2500 were injured), there’s quite rightly been an ever-growing media and popular focus on the notoriously opaque fashion supply chain. Organisations like Fashion Revolution are asking consumers and designers alike to take an interest in where fashion, from high street to luxury, comes from. Bringing production back home, to a place that can easily be visited in person and where regulation surrounding working practices may well be more stringent and workers’ rights better protected, means full visibility of the supply chain from start to finish.

Secondly, there’s the economic argument. It may seem counterintuitive, but it can in many ways be more cost effective to produce in your home country – and not just because many designers, of accessories and jewelry especially, are choosing to self-manufacture in their own studios. Choosing a local production centre reduces travel and postage expenditure dramatically while also reducing ‘hidden’ costs arising from communication problems, delays and errors that can occur when there is a great distance and potentially also a language barrier between designer and manufacturer. At the same time, with many countries still suffering the aftermath of the financial crisis and unemployment – especially among young people – at an all-time high, supporting local and national businesses is a clear boon to any depressed economy.

Lastly, there’s the commercial factor. With a growing market for locally-made artisan, independent and craft products across all industries (most of which command a premium price tag), there are clear opportunities for new labels to tap into this rising and profitable surge in conscious consumerism. Though there have certainly been cynical attempts (big brands – we’re looking at you) in the to cash in on desirable markers of origin such as the coveted ‘Made in Italy’ (or, more recently, ‘Made in Britain’) tag, for many businesses this appears to be a desirable auxiliary effect rather than a primary motivation.

All in all, producing at home can be a thoroughly sound decision, both ethically and economically. Designers win, consumers win, everybody wins! Has there ever been a better excuse to go shopping?

(For more information about how to buy ethically and sustainably, the Fashion Revolution website has links to a goldmine of resources. Click here.)

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