One company is attempting to reverse the manufacturing paradigm that dominates global investment. Vietnamese denim-maker Saitex.
Here’s what production to sales of goods—denim, in particular—has historically looked like:
Produce in Vietnam, China, Mexico or Pakistan (often under exploitative conditions) >> ship to stores in the US, the UK, and other Western nations >> the profits sit squarely with the Western brand that makes the sale
The manufacturing country, meanwhile, is stuck with no profits and an environmental cost—which in the case of denim can include chemical runoff chemical runoff China Dialogue Read more from the washing and dyeing processes used to make jeans.
Make in USA, spin in Vietnam: Saitex changes the denim manufacturing rules
Must source from China to produce in Vietnam? Must produce in Vietnam to sell to US brands? Vietnamese denim maker Saitex is turning this dated geographical movement of production around—it recently set up a factory in the US and a fabric mill in Vietnam. But as it grows rapidly, it needs to hold on to its sustainability promise
Vietnam-based Saitex claims to be the “cleanest denim manufacturer in the world” - in an industry known for being ‘dirty’
The private equity giant Navis Capital invested in Saitex in 2018, a rare move in the low-margin apparel industry
In 2021, the company opened a factory in Los Angeles, turning the usual global manufacturing paradigm on its head
With a new fabric mill in Vietnam, Saitex aims to vertically integrate its production process to make sustainability profitable. Can it?