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Wednesday, Aug 17, 2022
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Letter Lax

Apparel jobs

I generally hold the L.A. Business Journal in high regard in it’s reporting, and I can hardly fault Larry Kanter for clearly missing the big picture in his story relating to the announcement by Guess? to move its production to Mexico (“Guess defection unlikely to spark garment exodus,” Jan. 27).

Clearly, Larry is new to the apparel beat and will eventually learn that the industry’s love affair with a short-term viewpoint is its worst trait.

The reference by manufacturers stating that Mexico can not make quality or timely goods suffer from this same shortsightedness. Mexico will evolve as our leadership gives business owners more reasons to move their production offshore or into Mexico.

The basis for producing in Mexico will not be specifically related to price, as is referenced in Kanter’s article. In time, the U.S. business owner, and his motivations, will make Mexico succeed. Just as Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Honduras did.

Also, anybody who really knows anything about Mexico knows that sewing in Tijuana, Mexicali, Agua Prieta, etc. does not exactly constitute sewing in Mexico. These are all transient-type cities, just as the Southern California region. The regimented workers who produce higher-quality standards are found much farther into the Mexico towns, where the work force is much more committed.

The overall reference that the Guess announcement is really big news is really no news at all. Manufacturers have been moving production across the border for the last several years. This is the first story I have read reporting it.

This region lost tens of thousands of apparel jobs just last year, and Guess will just contribute to those lost jobs for 1997. The statistics of growth in the industry are misleading and uncharacteristic of the truth. You need to read between the lines and understand the numbers, not just report them.

The result of our leadership (politically and legislatively) ignoring this low-key exodus will be that we may find ourselves with an economic crisis of epic proportions that will not be able to be undone. We must call on our leadership to get busy and look for answers to keep American jobs here in the United States.

Just as important is the need of our periodicals to venture out to see the big picture in evaluating stories and report them accurately.

People read your newspaper and generally believe what they read. It would be a shame if you contributed to the misinformation that might mislead your readers in really understanding the urgency of addressing the long-term concerns of the apparel industry.

BERNARD LAX

President

Coalition of Apparel Industries in California

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