There’s a truth in the apparel industry that’s hard to reckon with for those of us who believe wholeheartedly in doing things locally. Many of the highest quality products on the market today are made in China. In a number of ways, China and several other countries are far ahead of Canada in apparel manufacturing, producing everything from cheap, fast fashion to high-end luxury items.
In our earlier days, Sitka shifted our clothing production from Canada to China because on paper it seemed like the way to offer the best value to our customers. By comparison our options for production seemed endless. But eventually we came face to face with the reality that we had been paying hidden soft costs, and passing those on to our customers as well.
Today we’re proud to say that Sitka is a Made in Canada clothing brand.
In 2014 we made the decision to shift our manufacturing back home, and since 2015, every new clothing item that we’ve produced has been manufactured in North America. The vast majority of our products are now made in Canada, and we also work with our neighbours in the United States to produce some of our clothing and accessories.
Here’s what that means for you as a customer:
If you’re looking at it strictly in dollars and cents, the advantage of Canadian manufacturing to consumers is that more of your money is going to the maker and is invested in the product itself, instead of getting tied up in logistics and fees or paid out to the middle man.
What might be less obvious are the non-economic benefits, which are harder to quantify, but we think hold significant value. Scratch that… we know they hold significant value.
Benefits of Made in Canada Apparel
World-leading culture of trust and transparency in business
- Strong regulatory system supporting social and environmental responsibility
- Transparency around fair wages and safeguards for workers rights
- Shorter lead times allowing for better quality control and less waste
- Supports local producers and contributes to a thriving local economy
- Lower environmental toll of long-distance shipping and staff travel for factory visits
When we mapped it out this way, it became clear to us that to do right by our customers, we had to commit to domestic manufacturing.
Our experience has taught us that there is no better way to create value for our community than by giving people the knowledge and power to buy products that align with their values. We refuse to be responsible for putting customers in a position to buy a product that we can’t stake our name on ethically. Luckily for us, Canada and U.S. are leading the way in responsible business, and we’ve been able to find some incredibly talented producers to work with.
Every decision that we make has a purpose, from the type of products that we sell, to the way that they’re made. Our aim is to lay the groundwork for consumers to make better informed buying decisions, and for other apparel businesses to get on board with a more forward-thinking approach to production.