The Made In America Movement Driven By Innovation, Not Nationalism

by MR Magazine Staff

It’s a sunny morning in Boyle Heights, a working-class neighborhood in East Los Angeles. Marty Bailey, 55, is about to start his day as the head of manufacturing at the eco-chic label Reformation. The brand’s 33,500-square-foot headquarters houses the first fully sustainable sewing factory in the United States. When visitors stop by, they tend to notice the Curtis Kuling graffiti scrawled on the walls, the hip vintage furniture that populates the design studio, and employees tending to their plots in the community garden outside. But for Bailey, the most exciting thing about the factory is its totally reimagined manufacturing process. Reformation is a fast fashion brand, constantly changing its product mix to keep up with the latest trends. But founder Yael Aflalo has upended each step of her supply chain to make it leaner, more nimble, and more environmentally friendly. A team of data scientists keeps track of best-selling outfits and conveys this information to Bailey, who is tasked with producing garments based on real-time demand. This ensures that the brand is delivering products that customers love, while eliminating wasted inventory. “Today, we’re making 300 maxi dresses,” Bailey says. “Yesterday, we were making T-shirts. From a logistical and supply-chain perspective, that’s a very complicated thing to do. It’s a challenge, in the best possible way.” This approach to manufacturing bears little resemblance to the Fruit of the Loom factory where Bailey first launched his career three decades ago. In 1984, Bailey had just graduated from Campbellsville University in Kentucky, got married, and had a baby girl on the way. He needed a job quick, so he took a position at “the Factory” (as the locals called it) on the western edge of Campbellsville. At the time, it was among the largest apparel-making operations in the world, with 700,000 square feet devoted to bleaching and dying fabric, cutting and sewing, and quality control. Read more at Fast Company.