If public interest in San Francisco’s sewing factories is indicative of the health of local fashion, then SF design is alive and well.
Friday’s sold-out tour of Mission Street factories Fashion Apparel Manufacturing Inc. and Rene Sewing Co. was organized by local manufacturing booster SFMade, and lead by Janet Lees, their Senior Director.
Thirty of us were first shown around Fashion Apparel Manufacturing Inc., which makes clothing for a number of well known brands, many of them are outdoor clothing companies. They didn’t want me to divulge the names of the companies but trust me, you know them.
The owner, Peter Hui, said there is no minimum number of pieces required for the orders they accept and that they are open to working with designers of any size. (So stop watching Project Runway and talking about how much better you could do, and get going!)
Hui also showed us the machines that make Fashion Apparel Manufacturing Inc. capable of producing many different products. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to take any photos — I would have loved to show you how fascinating this facility was. Maybe next time.
We were also introduced to the sewing factory’s workers, who were almost entirely of the older generation. It appears that young people are not gravitating toward manual sewing jobs, so there is potential for a shortage of skilled sewing manufacturing workers in the future. Skilled sewers make anywhere from minimum wage up to $20 an hour, so perhaps the pay is a factor?
Rene Sewing Co. would not allow reporters to tour their facilities.