T-shirts for 33 cents? Chinese factory to produce 23 million t-shirts a year with 300 robots

Is this the future of apparel? In the next 20 years, are we going to be able to purchase shirts, pants and shoes for just a few cents? Well, we’re getting a glimpse of this now.

A Chinese t-shirt company is establishing a facility in Arkansas that will produce a single t-shirt for just 33 cents. That’s right. Just 33 cents. And they will have “Made in America” tags, too!

Early next year, Tianyuan Garments Co. will open a $20 million factory that will be staffed by more than 300 robots, produced by Softwear Automation, an Atlanta-based company, according to Bloomberg. The company will also employ 400 human employees.

It is estimated that the factory will generate roughly 23 million t-shirts every year. Tang Xinhong, chair of Tianyuan, noted that even markets with the cheapest of labor will be unable to compete with the company.

Many are wondering now if the factory will start having robots make dress shirts. Softwear’s goal is to have such a machine perform that function within the next five years – right now, there are 78 separate steps putting together a dress shirt with a breast pocket.

Tianyuan is likely to change the apparel game. With so many of the big brands petrified of leaving China, India and other cheap labor markets and relying on automation, they may have no other choice but to finally incorporate automation into their business models.

Unfortunately, the only bad part of the deal is that the state government begged the company to open facilities in Arkansas by providing the firm with $3.2 million, including infrastructure assistance and employee training.

That said, with driverless transportation and now 33-cent t-shirts, the deflationary productivity increases are happening at a much faster pace than most expected.

You can thank the free market!

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  1. Not long ago a U.S. sock manufacturer refused to go to China for fear the Chinese would usurp the propitiatory no seam sock manufacture ability.

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