The movement to support domestic manufacturing in the United States was growing prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 at a slow yet steady pace. With supply chains disrupted and early shortages of personal protective equipment, apparel makers were faced with difficult decisions. One option was to become essential businesses by making the supplies necessary for essential workers and, eventually, the public.

“This has been very fast. When the factories realized production was going to close, they were very fast in realizing that shifting to PPE was going to be important due to a big demand,” explained Edouard Macquin, president of the Atlanta-headquartered technology provider Lectra Americas. “It’s not something you can do overnight, but many reacted like that in a matter of weeks.”

At SEAMS, the organization that represents the interests of sewn products within the United States, Executive Director Will Duncan also recognized a desire from members on how to make and access PPE for healthcare workers and government organizations.

“They recognized it immediately. Our whole industry—we started getting calls immediately from people looking for PPE, especially face masks, but gowns as well,” he said. “We had some members that were up and running within a week. They pivoted their businesses, not only those in cut and sew but also textile mills.” Read More