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Made in the Philippines October 14, 2006

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Ramblings.
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While out looking for a couple of shirts to add to my wardrobe, I’d finally settled on one when I noticed the words “Made in the Philippines” on the label.

That gave me pause. When I’m overseas, I always have qualms about buying things that I can readily get back home, not just because it usually costs more (which it does) but precisely because it can be found back home. So I was hesitant to buy the shirt. Then it occurred to me: the store has lots of shirts, and all of them can’t be made in the Philippines.

It turns out I was right. And wrong. Not all the shirts sported the same tag: some were apparently made in India, Peru or some such other place. But much to my consternation, all the shirts in that color and in my size were in fact made in the Philippines. It wasn’t unique to that color either: of the fifteen or so different colors the shirt was available in, easily two or three of them, solely sized medium, were proudly Philippine-made.

I wonder: Is this the shape of the new global supply chain? Is the manufacture of clothing outsourced to countries where labor is cheap, with each producing only a specific color and size of a particular clothing line? It wouldn’t surprise me. A trifle ridiculous, maybe, but taken to the extreme that’s what specialization in production is all about.

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