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Sizing Up Automation in the Apparel Industry

April 19, 1998

Yes, the technology exists to partially automate apparel production ["Tailored for Efficiency," March 8]. However, the nature of the raw material places limits on the degree to which production can be automated.

Also, one needs to bear in mind that, unlike New York, the average work force size of the Los Angeles contractor is 25 to 35 employees.

I seriously question, even tempted by decreasing turnaround times, whether the typical L.A. contractor can afford to capitalize his or her factory to the extent described in the article.

In spite of the few firms showcased in the story, the fact remains that on a nationwide scale, only a very small percentage of the production end of the apparel industry (with the exception of textiles) has gone "high-tech"; not surprisingly, the percentage of high-tech factories in the Los Angeles garment district in the lowest in the nation.

Perhaps Mayor Richard Riordan might consider dusting off the "Apparel Roundtable" and giving serious consideration to providing L.A.'s smaller factories with the start-up capital necessary to make the leap.


Department of Sociology

UC Santa Barbara

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