Among the South Asian countries of the world, Pakistan is the country where the largest apparel brands of Europe and United States run their overseas manufacturing operations. International Apparel merchandiser from Nike, Sears, Kohl’s, and Wal-Mart, to Gap, Macy’s and Old Navy, there is hardly a globally renowned clothing brand that does not outsource its apparel manufacturing operations to Pakistani garment manufacturers.
Despite the gas shortages, the chronic energy crisis, the bombings, the terrorism, threats and violence, Pakistani apparel is one of the lowest cost options for international buyers, cheaper even than Bangladesh, China, and India. International clothing brands charge on average a retail price that is three times the per-piece rate they offer their Pakistani manufacturing partners.
Despite the progress in the apparel industry, Pakistan has always been under the limelight for all the wrong reasons in the past. Pakistan has been the target of a deadly combination of extremism, terrorism, international espionage, and corrupt State machinery.
Pakistan is a well-resourced country with a reputed manufacturing industry that provides quality apparel to many different countries of the world. Pakistan has the following advantages which made it a better location for apparel manufacturing than other countries like India, Bangladesh and China.
Pakistan has the second best cotton in the world which makes the quality of apparel made in Pakistan one of the best in the world. It is the fourth largest producer of cotton. The cost of skilled labor in abundance is relatively low and it is extremely cost effective. All kinds of apparel manufacture are possible in Pakistan.
The difference in cost can be as high as 20% to 25%, substantial in any apparel industry that generally operates on low margins for exporters. For instance, a t-shirt, which is made at the rate of $10 a piece in China, is manufactured in Pakistan for $8 to $9. Similarly, a pair of pants or jeans, whose manufacturing cost is $12 in China, costs $10 to $9.50 in Pakistan.
The cost of labor in Pakistan is less than China, India and Vietnam. As opposed to Bangladesh, Pakistan has its own supply of cotton and fabric, and has more small and medium-size factories. So it is able to accommodate smaller volumes and shorter lead times, which suites the American market.
Apparel manufacturing procedures and operations require skilled labors and a combination of old dyeing methods and latest technology to create the perfect clothes of world class quality. Pakistan’s offshore apparel sourcing companies have been beneficiaries of major apparel offshoring and provide world class quality apparel products with all kinds of clothing customization.
Top American brands outsourcing their apparel manufacturing to Pakistan for because of the quality that manufacturing companies in Pakistan include Nike, American Eagle, Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, Kohl’s, Quicksilver, Sears, Wal-Mart, Old Navy, Gap and Macy’s.
Through different internet services foreign brands and companies communicate effectively with the Pakistani apparel manufacturing companies. They provide automated Web based Platform which enables the foreign designers, brands, companies or merchandisers to track the entire production process. Mostly all the major manufacturing companies are located in the biggest city of Pakistan ‘Karachi’. The manufacturing factories in Karachi produced quality products which could easily beat all the outsourced apparel products in USA and Europe.
An owner of a renowned apparel brand said that the global perception is made like Pakistan is a difficult and dangerous place to work. But it is not true. He travels to Pakistan at least four times a year and he thinks that Pakistan is a serious place to do serious business.
On the other hand, the cost of apparel manufacturing has increased in China in the recent years. The government of China has raised the minimum wage up to 21% because of which the Chinese apparel products are becoming increasingly expensive for foreign buyers and apparel brands and companies. On the contrary, the Pakistani rupee has been depreciating, making the country a choice outsourcing destination. China is gradually moving away from textiles and investing their real money in hi-tech industry and focusing more on industrialization of new and cheap technology. The economy of China is growing, so it is moving towards production of specialized goods.
Advantage that Pakistan has over its competing countries, especially Bangladesh, is good quality, and home-grown cotton. Pakistan produces short-staple cotton, which is good for fleece, denim, flannels, knits, polo shirts and t-shirts. Also, the lack of domestic cotton production capacity makes it difficult to operate a “just in time” logistics system with Bangladesh, a system that foreign retailers and apparel companies are used to. Bangladesh apparel manufacturing factories work straight when running continuous large programs and orders. Also, the apparel brand or company must plan for longer lead times for Bangladesh, as the fabric is imported and capacity is booked months in advance for the manufacturing process of clothes.
Pakistan also produces fashion niche and goods products better than Bangladesh apparel manufacturing factories. Pakistan manufacturing companies has excellent dyeing, washing and finishing techniques, enabling it to create fashion-forward and value-added garments.
The readymade garment industry in Pakistan enjoys facilities like income tax exemption and duty-free import of machinery. The Textile Institute of Pakistan also introduced first of its kind training programs in Pakistan apparel manufacturing and merchandising a few years ago to meet the demand of the apparel industry and to train the employees and staff in order to work effectively for better production quality.