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Currently, about one third of Brooklyn Industries clothing is made in four different factories in China run by families whom we have done business with for about a decade. Before we decided to jump into manufacturing there, we did our homework and research on labor disputes, exchange-rates and human rights. When the supply of legal, quality sewers and the materials supply chain dwindled, and we could no longer produce the more technical bags domestically, we made a decision back then to be a retailer instead of a manufacturer.
In 2002 a Japanese company took us to Hong Kong and Shanghai to introduce us to the factories. We were small, so most factories spoke with us only as a favor to the Japanese company that introduced us. We were impressed with the factories we visited - they were clean, employees walked around in slippers, and they were well-lit, unlike what we had read about in the press. My view of manufacturing in China began to change from skepticism to partnership and learning.
When we first started to manufacture there, we would often hear complaints about how small our orders were, and I was unsure whether I could establish strong business relationships due to my gender. But I continued to visit, often bringing my two sons with me, and eventually our relationships started to blossom and together, we’ve been able to chart ways to improve quality. Now when we visit, my sons and I are able to have delicious dinners together with their families, and sit around and watch amusing television sitcoms.
This factory in Shanghai is a completely vertical knitting mill and factory. Not only do they have mechanical knitting machines, but they still employ actual handlooms that handle our more complicated sweaters. -Lexy Funk, CEO