Friday, February 21, 2014
Made in the USA: California Contractor, Ball of Cotton
In less than a month, it seems like the Olympic sweaters from Ralph Lauren's collection have come and gone, yet the story behind those cotton knits is worth a closer look. From a knitting business in southern California that produces high quality knits, the Olympic sweaters were hand assembled by the "Ball of Cotton" company. A local company for more than 20 years, the owners Eddy and Elizabeth Park produce their own brand, along with private label jobs such as the Lauren label for the Olympics.
Eddy Park has developed a manufacturing process that keeps all of his production state side but still maintains a high capacity of 6,000 sweaters per month, so it's not a little mom and pop outfit, but rather an option for designers who want high quality knits made under local supervision and production. An interview with the couple can be seen HERE
While New York city would like the public to believe that the city is the center for US apparel, in fact it is southern California that leads the US in employing the most apparel manufacturing workers (43,000) in the nation.
What make the LA/Orange county region successful is that nearly 7,900 apparel contractors are in business (2011). Additional 'boutique' contractors are often so small as to not be counted along with the large businesses, yet they contribute towards regional success. The businesses In southern California are often geared towards higher production values, turnover and methods. This is something the less expensive off-shore manufacturing process often does not do successfully.
As more contractors build up manufacturing that is independent from offshore production, such as Eddy and Elizabeth Park have done, we will be able to find more apparel available to us that is made in the USA from concept through production.
Ball of Cotton Website
Additional information on the southern California industry: California Economy Predicted to Improve Next Year and Grow Modestly, By Deborah Belgum | Thursday, February 20, 2014 a recent economic forecast released by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.