Without a doubt, the production question we are most frequently asked has to do with where we manufacture our clothing. More specifically, "Do you make your clothes in China?" The popularity of this question is a testament to many factors, including people's increased attention to where their clothing comes from and a heightened awareness of workers' rights and conditions globally.
The topic of a global sourcing and manufacturing approach is more complex than can be done justice in this short space, but we are trying to offer more visibility into the choices we make and the reasons behind them. At the end of this piece, you will find links to more in-depth explorations of this topic.
Widespread public opinion still contends that a company's decision to source and manufacture goods in Asia - and more specifically in China - is solely based on a desire for cheap labor. The truth, though, is often much more complicated and nuanced. Not only have Asian manufacturers become the experts in working with the most modern textiles and technologies, but they also produce some of the highest quality workmanship at competitive prices. Combine those factors with recent improvements in workers' conditions and the use of third party monitoring of social and environmental conditions, and it becomes clear that there is room for new perceptions of offshore manufacturing.
Where We Stand
We manufacture our clothing in four countries—Canada, China, Thailand and Turkey—using fabrics from China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Thailand and the U.S.A. One reason we manufacture many of our products in Asia is because many of our cutting-edge textiles originate only in Asia, and one of our goals is to have our production facilities as close as possible to where our fabric, hardware and fixtures originate, in order to reduce the environmental impact of shipping.
For many of the products we are producing (some of the most highly tailored and technical on the market) the required skill sets and technologies no longer exist in the U.S. While there are U.S.-made garments available to consumers, they are almost always less technical than what Nau designs, and are produced in far greater volume. The demise of the U.S. textile and garment-manufacturing segment of the economy is a well-known macro-economic trend, in place for many years. While disappointing, this is not something that we, as a small newcomer brand, can truly counteract.
Thankfully, along with the years of industry experience that many of our staff members bring to our team comes lasting, established relationships with foreign manufacturers whose practices and integrity we know and trust. Of course overseas production is not without controversy, but if approached with honesty and transparency, and monitored by a system of checks and balances, we believe it can actually benefit the people and countries where the work is done.
What We're Doing
Besides working with manufacturers with whom we have long-established relationships, we have created a code of conduct with which they must comply. Our Code of Conduct addresses three major areas: human rights, environment, documentation and review. The human rights section addresses issues related to voluntary employment, child labor, freedom of association, fair and equal treatment, nondiscrimination, compensation, hours of work, overtime, and health and safety.
We will continue to evaluate all our manufacturing partners and practices. We remain committed to producing our goods with integrity, and only with the help of manufacturers who approach their work in the same manner, wherever they are located.