Ever wonder where in China your [insert brand name here] clothes are made? I always have. A few weeks ago, I got a sneak peek at a sweater factory. Haiyang has a bunch of them, though factory is a slight misnomer. The word factory brings to my mind huge complexes full of heavy machinery and sooty smoke stacks situated somewhere beyond the train tracks, but these factories aren’t like that. The textile factories here are just big warehouse like buildings that line the wide, mostly empty, streets. You could say they are part of the Haiyang sprawl.
I was impressed by the mix of high-tech and low-tech methods of production. In one warehouse, huge computerized sewing machines stitched the sweaters together. Three people — two guys and a girl who all looked to be in their early to mid-twenties — oversaw the work of a dozen plus machines.
In another, a group of women donning red jackets sat huddled over smaller machines, putting the final touches — collars, cuffs, etc. — on the sweaters. I can’t say I envied the task. I can only imagine the hours and years the women have put in to master the meticulous work.
One area of the factory was dedicated to the final production processes.
Oh, yeah, and there was yarn. Lots of it. One room was dedicated to it.
Of course, the best part was the “shop”…which was one big room with hundreds of sweaters strewn about. I dug through the piles and boxes to find a few sweaters to take home. And I was pretty happy with the deal I got. I’ll take 80RMB ($13) per sweater over the much more expensive price tag that will go on them back home in the U.S. Then again, I didn’t see any labels for American brands, but there was a pretty big European brand in the mix. One of my sweaters also had a label stating that it was manufactured in Denmark…definitely not true.