According to a new story from Fashionista, in order for there to be American-made apparel, there has to be immigrant workers.
“[Immigrants] are the people who possess the skills to make our clothes and accessories locally,” the story says. “They’re also willing to do jobs that have been deemed undesirable by many natural-born Americans.”
The story cites a study from the CFDA and FWD.us that found that “82 percent [of those surveyed] hire foreign workers for their skills and talent (not because they’re cheap labor).”
It also notes that Los Angeles factory floors are, at this point, almost entirely Spanish-speaking. And not because of some giant conspiracy, or because there’s a sinister job-sucking force emanating from south of the border. It’s because apparel production requires highly skilled labor that an American-only workforce simply isn’t capable of delivering anymore. And that’s why the CFDA is lobbying for more accessible H1-B visas, also known as the “high-skill visa”.
“We are a country of immigrants and fashion is an industry built on skill. These skills easily translate regardless a person’s language or homeland,” says CFDA CEO, Steven Kolb. “In order to continue the U.S.’s success and influence in the fashion industry, we must recruit the best talent from all over the world. If the United States wants to lead the world in fashion innovation, we need immigration policies that embrace the talented foreigners who come here to build and grow.”
So, once again, one of Trump’s campaign promises (more American-made goods) is in direct conflict with another (less immigration). And if he’s able to put even more restrictions into place, and continue his crackdowns on undocumented workers, the already weary American garment industry could be damaged irreparably. As the article states, “Would [garment manufacturing in the US] even be possible without immigrants? The answer is a resounding no.”
You can read more about it at Fashionista.