You have probably heard that locally made food is better. Better for the environment, the local economy, and the transparency of the product. But does the same thing apply to clothes? Is it better to buy clothes that have been produced locally compared to the clothes produced in another country?
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Most people will properly say yes. There are a lot of advantages of supporting your local businesses, and we will cover them all in this article. However, there are also a few disadvantages that are also worth mentioning, and we will cover those as well.
So without further ado lets get to it.
What does locally made mean?
If we start with the term locally this is used to describe a certain area. When we talk about something that is locally made, it refers to a product or item that is made in a particular area. Locally usually refers to the area you live in.
That means that something that might be locally made for one area isn’t locally made in another. It can therefore be a bit difficult to talk about locally made clothes.
Usually locally made is associated with food. This is because it is easier to make something eatable locally than it is to make a whole dress locally since brands can’t produce all of their clothes in every country or city in the world.
However, more brands are starting to bring the production, or part of the production, back “home”. So, where food mostly needs to be grown in a particular and nearby area where you live, the “local” part in locally made clothes often refers to the country you live in. That is also why some clothes may be locally made for some and not for others.
Is locally made better?
So, are locally made clothes better? As with everything else it depends on which perspective you choose to look at it from. There are a lot of advantages if you choose to invest in locally made goods. But there are also a few things you should be aware of:
5 reasons for investing in locally made clothes
- Locally made clothes are often more sustainable
- It is often more unique, because oftentimes the brands produce much fewer pieces, compared to big fashion houses.
- You support your local /national economy
- The production of the clothes is often much more transparent
- Locally made clothes are often high quality
What are the advantages of buying locally produced products?
There are quite a few advantages of investing in locally produced goods. Sustainability, transparency, and economic growth, or a few buzzwords you could use to describe the advantages of clothes that are produced in your local area or country of residence. Let’s take a closer look at the advantages below.
The environmental benefits of locally produced goods
One of the major advantages of locally made fashion is that it tends to be more eco-friendly. First of all, all the transportation of the clothes from one country to another and the shipping of clothes across oceans is being cut off. That is a major win for the environment.
If the clothes are all around locally made, and the materials and fabrics are sourced in the area as well this also has a positive effect on the environment.
Buying local supports the local economy
This positive side effect of buying locally is pretty self-explanatory. If you choose to buy things that are locally, or this case probably nationally made, the money you spend will help support the national or local economy.
Let’s say you buy a shirt which has been produced in your country of residence or even local area. When choosing to buy this shirt, you also help the brand stay in business, which means the people who produced, packed, and sold the shirt will keep their jobs. One of the advantages of buying locally produced goods is that the money you spend will help your country’s economy or local community thrive.
The production tends to be more transparent
Fewer steps in the supply chain lead to more transparency. This tends to have a positive effect on the working conditions and the wages workers are paid, and therefore locally produced fashion tends to be more ethical as well.
What are the disadvantages of buying local?
If you look at the disadvantages of buying clothes that are made locally in relation to the environment there aren’t any really. Clothes that are produced in your local tends to be more sustainable, better for the environment, and support the local economy.
However, there are a few things some might see as disadvantages.
First, locally produced clothes tend to be more expensive, because these brands tend to pay their workers a higher wage, source materials that are more eco-friendly, and overall have to follow stricter rules when it comes to using materials and working conditions.
These are all some of the positive sides of locally produced goods. But they also have an impact on the price. Locally produced goods tend to be more expensive to make, so of course, the price tag will reflect that.
Others argue that if we only purchase locally produced clothes and goods the unemployment rate in the world may increase.
To understand this claim we have to turn gaze to the clothing supply chain. In a global supply chain, lots of people are involved in the production. The cotton for a shirt may be sourced in one country, the production might take place in another, and then the packaging of the shirt takes place in a new factory.
But it is not so much these steps that will end up coursing unemployment. They will still take place just in the same place instead (your local area). The jobs will simply be moved from one part of the world to another. That of course has consequences for other people.
The ones that would become unemployed are the people whose jobs depend on transporting the clothes around in the world. This can of course be seen as a disadvantage, but on the other hand, that is also better for the environment. It simply depends on which perspective you look at it from.
The clothing supply chain of locally produced items
A clothing supply chain can be quite complex and difficult to track because each step usually takes place in different countries and factories. But when something is locally made, this isn’t the case. If something is 100% locally made, the supply chain is really easy to trace since everything will be made in the same place. This, of course, has many advantages for the environment and often also the working conditions.
It is probably easier if we took a look at the clothing supply chain to understand why the supply chain of locally made items often is more transparent:
As you can see, a shirt, or any piece of clothes for that matter, has to go through a lot of steps before it arrives at the store.
If that same shirt was locally made it also had to go through almost all the same steps, so that is not what changes. But in a regular supply chain, the sourcing of the raw materials might take place somewhere, where it isn’t possible to check up on working conditions and environmental practice. If the clothes are 100% locally made the raw material, such as cotton, is grown in the same country as the shirt is produced, packed, and sold.
If you want to learn more about the clothing supply chain check out our guide to supply chains here