I frequently get asked by our customers and collaborators where we will be moving our productions next after china and the answer is nowhere.
This is not because I am particularly pro-china or negative about any other production locations but it's because over time we have built a base, a circle of connections, a know-how of the local industry and we feel we can give our best service in China together with our Chinese partners.
This is also doesn't mean that we ONLY produce in China.
Today 30% of what we make is Made In Italy and this percentage will grow or dilute based on one factor only: PRODUCT KNOW-HOW.
We simply want to make the right products in the right locations. Based on the industry, factory experience and knowledge.
A quick example is a new project we are working on; TREDICI (link), A direct-to-consumer Football boot brand with the mission of reaching the World Cup. We decided from day 1 that the product would be made in Italy. Italy has been the home of the best football boots for decades and still today makes some of the most advanced boots on the market.
Asia would have been probably 50% cheaper and probably 10x faster but it wouldn’t have been the best option long term. Our mission is to create an innovative product made in the highest quality materials at a reasonable price whilst telling a good a story and giving back 10% of our sales in football equipment to difficult communities. (I’ll go more into detail on this project in another post soon)
I have been working in China for almost 12 years and although that’s not an infinite amount of time I’ve seen a constant migration. First, it was Italy then Taiwan, Korea, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Portugal, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and most recently talks of countries in Africa have become more frequent and these are ONLY countries that I have come across and visited.
My question has always been, are we collecting skills or passport stamps?
Is it really necessary to order 5 containers of synthetic leather, ship them across Asia from china to save $0.80?
Considering that most of the later countries I mentioned don't have a sustainable source of prime materials, it means that they have to be shipped mostly from china creating an even less sustainable, costly and time consuming process. It's all great if you are one of the monster brands and have infinte access but if you are a small to medium brand producing less than a million pairs per year I suggest being as close as possible to the main material sources of the product you are making. Be it synthetics in Asia or leather in Europe.
anyway back to us; no we probably won’t be leaving China any time soon and if we do it’s because we’ve found a better way to produce.
As for sustainability and so on, I plan to do a post soon and show our view on the subject.