Sunday, 11 July 2010

Is that a Made in China death knell I hear?

Two things are happening in China at the moment that will hopefully have a positive knock-on effect for designer-makers around the world – the government has unpegged the yuan from the US dollar, which will allow it to gradually appreciate in value, and Chinese workers are demanding higher wages and better working conditions. These two things combined will inevitably push up the price of goods mass-manufactured in China, contributing to the decline of the Made in China era.

Besides the obvious human rights benefit to China’s factory workers, these two factors should wear down the massive price difference between producing in China and producing goods in developed countries, bringing about greater price equality between east and west. And when the cheapest of the cheap option is no longer available, it'll force us to re-evaluate our purchasing power. We'll probably have to cut down on the amount of stuff we buy, but maybe it'll encourage us to buy the best quality we can afford to extend the lifespan of the things we do buy. And original, quality products made in small runs trump goods mass-produced at a factory any day.

There’s a strong possibility I’m dreaming – China will not loosen its grip on cheap manufacturing without a fight. But everything starts somewhere, and I’m hoping recent developments in China will kick-start a new wave of consumerism – one in which we buy less, but are willing to spend a bit more on better quality items, ie handmade goods.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Braun said...

As someone with a long-term interest in things Chinese (esp the language and people), it will certainly be interesting! I wonder how it will effect people moving abroad to work and study too.

More people buying hand-made sounds good!!=) Maybe some of us could even make a living....