2020 continues to show no mercy. In the interest of a pleasant read, It's best I leave my own personal views (on you know what) aside.
With a title like "The State of Melbourne Manufacturing" you'd expect me to throw a combination of truth-jabs and honesty-haymakers, catapulting any made in *insert country* wardrobe to the pavement. However, what you choose to spend your hard-earned dollars on warrants no judgement from me...
So what's the point of this eloquent piece of writing? To promote our latest drop? Flaunt new equipment at The Pen Factory? Not entirely...
I'm writing this because I feel that, given the current climate, it's necessary to finally rip the clothing industry blindfold off and open a curtain that most other brands keep permanently drawn.
Globalisation has allowed us to share local resources, experience cultural enrichment, and acquire unique perspectives. Regrettably however, it's also made us somewhat complacent to the sustainability, or lack there of, in our own local industries and communities.
The unfortunate truth behind Melbourne manufacturing is work has been steadily evaporating for the past two decades. First the major sportswear brands upped and left, then our own sporting codes put profits in front of people, and then the internet gave aspiring start up brands a direct line to unethical offshore sweatshops.
Everyone in this local industry - from cutters to sewers, and pattern makers to designers - have been reluctantly anticipating a year like 2020 for some time. Manufacturers have scaled back, suppliers have disappeared, and previously operational machinery now rests dormant. Covid-19 was a catalyst for the eventual truths that have been inching closer and closer each year.
Nonetheless, If ever there was a time to seek a silver lining, it's now. With Australia currently closed off to the rest of the world, consumers are once again encouraged to recognise what's available on their own soil, rather than across distant waters. The impact of this humbling self reflection we've all endured has been trickling through local industries, none more so than the rag trade.
The relentless growth of the ICHPIG® brand has continued to be a life support for many in our community. Recently, our local manufacturers have kicked into overdrive. They've employed additional seamstresses, trained up new cutters, and in turn tripled their production capacity this year alone. The result has been a complete resurrection of many local manufacturers, which will invariably cascade into a more sustainable Melbourne manufacturing industry to come.
It's irrelevant whether you cop our latest "box90" hoodie colour-way, kick around in our "signature" heavy-weight fleecy, or absorb any other "marketing fuelled" garms or not. If nothing else comes from 2020, at least as a society we're once again choosing to support our local communities and small businesses wherever possible.
Now in our tenth year, never before has there been a greater demand for our made in Melbourne garments and the ICHPIG® team, its manufacturers, and our local industry as a whole, has you to thank.
Co-Founder & Creative Director