The companies that have made billion-dollar news haven’t all invented varied concoctions of rocket science. The best and biggest have taken traditional industries and traditional needs, and given them new life by using technology and data.  Traditional industries exist because they by nature cater to basic needs, and the smart companies have done well to play to human needs that will never ebb – transport (Uber, Lyft), shelter (Airbnb,, food (Blue Apron).

Now did anyone say we missed clothing? You’re right. Clothing is a fundamental, basic need. And while there is plenty of clothing to buy online and retail, hardly any of it was made in the USA over the last few decades.  Where there is a gap and a need, there is a business opportunity. Here are the 5 reasons (opportunities) we think the apparel manufacturing industry is being upended.

1)     Manufacturing is coming back to the USA

For business, political and cultural reasons, the supply chain for making clothing is steadily migrating back to the United states. This is a $250-billion-dollar market(!!) that needs to be fulfilled, and all that is new opportunity in the United States

2)     New categories with technology, wearables

Wearable technology is changing how apparel is made and worn. Importantly, it is creating new categories further increasing the addressable market for apparel manufacturing. If you are a company that can combine process with technology knowledge, you’re onto something incredible huge.

3)     Millennials want better, faster, made at home

Manufacturing in the US!? Why, you may ask? Because, over 70% of the buying population will be millennials and Gen Zers by 2020. These are both generations that want everything to be authentic quality, that want things fast, and generations that want extreme individualization. Made to order and made to measure by nature are better fulfilled closer to home

“Brands should market their fashions and products with an understanding that Gen Zers will want to make each piece their own”

4)     Technology allows made-to-order and made-to-measure

And indeed, following from the last point, manufacturing for apparel today isn’t about mass production. The future belongs to companies that can make in small quantities, cater to individual tastes. Custom production may have once seemed liked an expensive and most impossible process, but is fast becoming the new norm. Companies that are able to develop a supply chain for just in time custom manufacturing own the future.  

5)     A new skill set is born, a new gig economy

With the return of apparel manufacturing comes a new huge income gig for millennials and Gen Zers. Culturally, having additional streams of pay through gigs is now normal. Driving, errand running, cooking etc. are suddenly valuable skills. Sewing and design following suit further allowing fulfilment of manufacturing orders.

Do you agree that just in time apparel manufacturing in the USA is the next multi-billion-dollar industry? Would love to continue the debate at [email protected]


**Sources: Mass customization by Frank Pillar

Article from the advertising age, “Move Over Millennials -- Here Comes Gen Z”