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Editorial: Geographical Proximity May No Longer Be a Critical Factor in Textile and Apparel Sourcing
published in Issue 141, September 2009
It has long been argued—not least in this publication—that suppliers who are geographically close to their main markets enjoy a distinct competitive advantage over those based some distance away.
It has been further argued that this competitive advantage has become stronger in recent years as fashion cycles have become shorter, the number of collections in a year has increased, and pressure on manufacturers to reduce lead times has intensified.
The costs of transportation from nearby sources are usually lower and transportation times quicker. Moreover, it is generally easier to make adjustments to existing orders, and to replenish inventories in-season, when the goods in question are manufactured in a nearby country.
Having merchandise manufactured in China or India, by contrast, is problematic if changes need to be made after the goods have already been produced, packed and loaded on to a ship. Indeed, the ship may already have left port—such are the lead times required when sourcing over long distances.
Given the attractions of nearby sourcing, it is hard for an outsider to understand why any buyer would want to source from Asia at all. Goods sent by truck from Turkey to Germany or from Mexico to the USA can be despatched closer to the time they are needed. This allows for last minute adjustments to be made—giving buyers more time to assess how well a particular product line is selling in retail stores.