A combination of higher wages in Asian countries and a trend for bringing back manufacturing to the US could dismantle large parts of Asian economies, many of which depend on the textiles and clothes manufacturing trades for huge portion of their national income.
An interesting video report by the Financial Times points to this possible future, but adds that in practice, for now, “almost all of the world’s T-shirts and jeans by millions of cheap workers, mostly women, watching over sewing machines”.
I was a tailor once. Made ladies’ coats. High class. Long, beautiful red, flowing like a cape. Made of wool. For one of the famous stores on Oxford Street, London.
The collars were interesting in that there weren’t any, sort of. The entire edge, or hem, all around the edge of the coat was one long stitch. It was an ankle length coat, so it was a pretty long stitch. It was more like a big shawl with sleeves.
I don’t remember the buttons, but there was another machine for that part of the process. I was just given the cloth parts of the coat by the cutter and just sewed them together using a Brother industrial sewing machine.
Sewing may be one of the oldest technical activities of humankind but it’s not one that robots have yet fully mastered.
The complexity of sewing, whether it’s sewing by hand or using a machine, is such that robots – or sophisticated sewing machines – can only perform some relatively simple stitches.
But those stitches that the robots or sewing machines can perform are actually very impressive and would be difficult – though not impossible for a human.
On the other hand, a lot of things a human can do – such as stitch together a sleeve and cuff or some other part of the garment, or even sew together the entire garment – is way beyond the realms of possibility for even the most sophisticated robots of today.