Dimensions of apparel
manufacturing strategy and
North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC, USA
Mary Ann Moore
Florida State University, FL, USA
Doris H. Kincade
Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA
Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA
Keywords Manufacturing strategy, Sewing, Production management, Apparel
Abstract The purpose of this study was to explore the dimensions of apparel manufacturing
strategy (i.e. cost, quality, ﬂexibility, delivery time) and their relationship to style and sewing
systems. U.S. apparel producers are seeking strategies that will make their production competitive
to production in low wage countries. Two style types were deﬁned: new styles and standardized
styles. Results indicated that the production of new styles of apparel is related to the manufacturing
dimensions of quality and delivery. The standardized style is related to the dimension of cost.
Signiﬁcant associations were also found between the multiple-sewing systems used by plants and
dimensions of manufacturing strategy (cost, delivery, and ﬂexibility).
The U.S. apparel industry is facing the greatest challenge in its history because
of the rapidly changing business environment with respect to global
competition, market performance, and changing technology (Abernathy et al.,
1995; Mize, 1992). The high amount of labor involved in apparel production (30
per cent –50 per cent of the ﬁnal garment cost) has caused apparel producers to
seek locations with lower wage employees for reduced production costs.
Apparel producers in less-developed countries have labor-cost advantages
compared to industrialized countries. The result of this wage differential has
contributed to an import deﬁcit for the United States so that low-wage
countries are producing more than half of the products sold in the U.S. market
(Abernathy et al., 1995). This global competition is expected to become even
stronger in the future. U.S. apparel producers must seek strategies and use
dimensions of the manufacturing process that will create a competitive product
when low wage employees are not present.
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Received August 2000
Accepted October 2001
International Journal of Clothing
Science and Technology,
Vol. 14 No. 1, 2002, pp. 46–60.
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