Why clothing startups are returning to American factories
BOSTON — At the swanky Prudential Center in the heart of Boston’s shopping district, the Yogasmoga boutique stands out for its sparse, minimalist aesthetic. At the entrance, there is a large white orchid on a table surrounded by neatly folded tank tops and yoga pants known for their high-tech fabrics. Soothing, Eastern-inspired music is piped in, giving the space a peaceful ambiance, Fast Company reports.
Yogasmoga’s om-inducing clothes are made 60 miles south of Boston in the gritty town of Fall River, Massachusetts, where I recently met with Yogasmoga’s founder and CEO Rishi Bali to visit the factory. In the 19th century, Fall River was an important textile hub in New England, second in the world only to Manchester, England, in terms of textile production. Over the last few decades, however, the majority of factories in these parts have been shuttered as manufacturing has moved offshore to places such as China and Vietnam where labor is cheaper.
At Griffin Manufacturing, a grand eight-story stone factory built in 1936, this has-been manufacturing hub is showing signs of life. Three floors of this building are in production. While the factory is outfitted with state-of-the-art machines—one, for instance, is able to precisely laser-cut stacks of fabric so that very little goes to waste—it’s surprising how much of each garment is made by hand.
At one station, a sewer named Lee Almeida is stitching a thin layer of piping around the neckline and armholes of a shirt. She says Yogasmoga clothes require more focus because activewear materials tend to curl at the ends, so it is easier to make mistakes. I ask her how long she’s been sewing professionally. “Twenty-four years,” she says, without taking her eyes off the seam she is working on.
READ MORE of this story at Fast Company by Elizabeth Segran. Photo courtesy of Yogasmoga.