Until it closed its factory last month, Revatex Inc. was among the few big Los Angeles clothing designers to also produce garments itself.
Many apparel firms in a city known for trendy juniors garments already had shifted production to contractors, both in the city and abroad. Los Angeles lost 5,000 garment production jobs in 1999.
Observers said it's tough for firms such as Revatex to profitably run their own factories. For one thing, seasonal demand can cause wild production swings. The juniors business, for example, is driven by back-to-school sales.
And as garment labels diversify, they need specialized equipment that drives costs higher. Known for its JNCO men's clothing, Revatex is branching into women's contemporary clothes to revive sales.
"It makes sense for them to focus on higher value activities" such as design, said Judi A. Kessler, a sociologist with the UC San Diego Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies.
Contractors, meanwhile, are adept at drumming up work to keep their factories busy year-round, observers say. Thus, it is easier for them to specialize.
Revatex said it plans to keep most of its production in Los Angeles. That, combined with the current shortage of garment workers in the city, means many of Revatex's 250 factory workers probably found jobs, experts said.