Oversee ‘Fashion’ Production Overseas

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And yes, there exists a job like that, with appropriate work to boot. We all know by now, that for much of our clothing, it’s only the idea that's conceived and designed here, while the actual work is done, no prizes for guessing correctly – China or India or Bangladesh or…you get my drift. What many don’t know is that often companies that operate here, have employees that live there, overseeing the entire production spectrum on a full time basis.

They actually move, lock, stock and barrel to live in manufacturing countries for lengthy periods of time…starting from three months to a year or even longer. With that much time in a foreign land, one is hardly considered a tourist anymore, but more a local. That gives the advantage of being in the know at all times, the ability to stay on top of a manufacturer’s production and thereby keep unwanted issues at bay. Prime responsibilities include sourcing new factories, quality control and managing delivery dates. Each of these is supremely important, and it’s success will dictate the upward or downward swing of the company’ bottom line. And right there my friends, lies the value of an Overseas Production Manager.

I’ve known people in this career, and do they like it? Depends on the company, they’d say. While some companies are really good, in that they offer the best support, monetarily and logistically, there are far too many that are ready to squeeze every nerve in your body.

A quick story about a friend, who worked with a famous clothing company in Montreal, well infamous rather, because of their all too common high turnover. This naive guy left his family in Montreal to go live in Bangladesh, overlooking said company's production. He got paid in Canadian dollars which easily took care of his mortgage (he had recently bought a new house), his family's monthly expenses, and allowed for some to be stashed away as savings. His overseas expenses which covered everything, in the much lower value Bangladeshi rupee, were to be reimbursed at the end of each month. When I say everything, I mean all of it...from lodging, to daily meals, to travel, and insurance. All his minds eye could see was that in a few months he'd have not just a lot more change in his pocket, but he'd be well-traveled too. What was not to love?

Not his fault, but the high employee turnover here, led to decreased sales and consequently decreased production. And what does the company do? They lay him off, by e-mail no less, when he's living in a foreign land! Coming back to Montreal only had more problems open up, because chasing reimbursements for money spent on company work, took him on a roller coaster ride...not a fun one and not a successful one.

So when you’re drawn toward such a job, ask yourself and your potential employer many questions, because if you wait until you’re overseas it would be like tying to get out of quicksand. What better way to travel the world, than immersing yourself in different cultures, and get paid good $$$ for doing that? Perfect opportunity for the adventurer and the hustler, but one that must stay organized, systematic and sharp.

Moral of story, research a company well before you take the leap. As for the industry, shape up or stop shipping out; for your own sake, if like the rest of society you believe certain ethical standards are a necessary yardstick for success. We all want the fashion industry in our city to thrive and we expect our leading companies to do just that; lead, so that the industry and its dedicated employees thrive.

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