International News

Robots Affecting US Apparel Industry

July 12, 2017

U.S. apparel making jobs have plummeted by 65% over the last 15 years as the work has moved to lower-wage countries. And now greater automation is affecting the industry. Automation that has shaken up other industries has been slow getting to apparel, because of how fabrics move and stretch while being sewn. Instead, companies have largely economised by shifting to countries including China, Mexico and Vietnam. But, in a sign that the jobs trend down will continue, Softwear Automation, an Atlanta startup, says sales of its automated sewing technology grew by 10 times in 2016, and are likely to do so again this year. The company’s technology can “see” the fabric, and sew with reliable accuracy. The automation of sewing is not new _ it goes back to 1830, and the invention of the sewing machine in France. That resulted in numerous uprisings by Parisian tailors who felt a threat to their work.