Any company currently manufacturing any kind of physical product has to ask this question to themselves.
I think every brand should ask this question now - Here’s the thing though: the answer for some may still be to manufacture in China.
Yes there is a big movement to re-shore manufacturing. There’s plenty of opportunity to move manufacturing back to NA at a large scale. There’s a great deal of opportunity to work with local artisans on smaller scale, hand-made products - but, there’s isn’t much in between those 2 spectrums. Not now.
China, despite still being looked down upon in terms of quality, can walk with the giants in terms of quality. They can do it - if you’re willing to pay for it. If you’re going to China to try and get something done for 1/4 of the price - the quality will respect the price. The reason why China still remains relevant in manufacturing is that they have the infrastructure to support it. A single person can reach out to the right factory and create a line of products. That factory can support them in ways that no one can match in NA (I guess some might) - they can provide knowhow, they can provide support and they can work with you. They know how to purchase raw materials - they have vendors for that. They know how to import and export. They know how to meet all the necessary testing requirements. They have a knowledge bade that can make life easier for anyone wanting to create something at scale. However, finding those partners isn’t easy - but they’re out there - you have to look and do the legwork.
So where do you make your stuff?
I don’t think there’s a rule. I think it has to be evaluated on a per project basis. For a larger scale project with little support and resources on the North American side it might make sense to go with Asia manufacturing and import it. You’d need to hit the negotiated MOQ’s established by the manufacturer. For smaller things - or maybe something a little more specialized - it can be done Local or in NA. It’s also possible to combine manufacturing sources and celebrate the team up. Why not work with a steel manufacturer in Japan to make a cutting knife, and source Leather in Texas and combine the two into a beautiful piece. It might have international value.
So, Local or Global? - The answer is both. As long as there’s value and craftsmanship - any option can work.
This series of content is a small experiment. I pledged to create a piece of content on my site for the next 365 days. You can read the opening post here. The posts aren’t limited to thoughts or ideas, they’re really just a way for me to create original content. If you got any feedback/questions, please reach out. Thanks for looking.