Shaping a hub: effort to found clothing design, manufacturing in Detroit gathers momentum


In early October, up to seven suppliers of the anonymous clothing brand will send representatives to Detroit for Aronsson and Duggan to do their part to establish a manufacturing presence in the city, Aronsson said.

“It’s exciting, but it’s still a dream, it’s still a vision and an idea,” said Aronsson. “We are a work in progress, however – precarious work.”

Tier one and tier two suppliers are key to establishing a large-scale apparel and apparel manufacturing presence in Detroit, Aronsson said.

Aronsson, Guarino, and others in the fashion and apparel industry argue that the $ 2.5 trillion global industry is ripe for disruption as robotic assembly technology advances and customers have become more aware of where their clothes and accessories are made.

“The fashion industry lacks people and places to tap into,” said Guarino, whose Detroit-based employer Shinola has grown into an internationally recognized brand for its watches, handbags and other luxury goods. made in Detroit.

Part of the argument that the ISAIC Group and Aronsson are making for Detroit to be a new US hub for manufacturing centers on waste and inefficiency built into a system that relies heavily on cheap labor. in Third World countries to produce most of the clothes Americans wear.

Globally, the fashion and textile industry overproduces an additional 15 billion pieces of clothing per year and the excess clothing ends up in landfills, Guarino said. This is in part due to “fast fashion” brands like H&M and Zara which depend on producing high-volume, fashionable clothing at low prices to quickly capitalize on trends.

“If Detroit could build on demand and cut that $ 500 million surplus amount, it’s doable,” she said. “It’s a possibility.”

The ISAIC facility will serve as a training center for textile workers to learn both traditional sewing skills and the operation of robotic machines, Guarino said.

“We live in a time when robotics is coming – and happening fast,” Guarino said in an interview for the Crain’s “Detroit Rising” podcast. “They’re not a complete replacement for manufacturing (workers). You still need human hands.”

Reese said the pressure for Detroit to be a new hub for the design and production of luxury clothing is not a selfless cause.

“We have a huge problem with overproduction and fast fashion, and that’s something I don’t talk about and don’t want to talk about,” said Reese, a graduate of Cass Tech High School. “As we slow things down and become more reflective, being in Detroit makes us feel good.”

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