奎恩的合伙人，当初中国城工厂的房东Shun Yen Siu和Ida Siu，回到了她们的家乡中国汕头，并在那里建了新工厂。尽管搬厂之后成本显著下降，但她们的运作却更接近于按订单制作的意大利时装店，并没有“中国制造”商标一般蕴含的廉价劳动力意味，奎恩补充说。
Lafayette 148, a New York-based clothing brand that started in a factory in Manhattan’s Chinatown in 1996, moved its manufacturing to China a few years ago, as rent and other costs skyrocketed in the U.S. “We just couldn’t be profitable” in New York, said Deirdre Quinn, co-founder and CEO of Lafayette 148, at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif., on Tuesday.
Quinn’s co-founders, Shun Yen Siu and Ida Siu—the proprietors of the original Chinatown plant—moved back to their hometown of Shantou, China, and built the new factory there. Although the relocation has cut the retailer’s costs significantly, the operations more closely resemble the made-to-order fashion houses of Italy than the cheap labor connotations of a “made in China” label, Quinn added.
“People think of manufacturing in China and they think ‘oh no,’ but really it is unbelievable,” Quinn said during a panel of startup founders at the conference. “I’m really proud when people want a tour of it.”
The Shantou factory has multiple floors, each focusing on different details of the clothing. “It is one floor for denim, one floor for hand beading and embellishments,” Quinn said. “What we’re really doing is customizing for our customer.”
Of course, Lafayette 148 still maintains a foothold in New York: It just moved its original headquarters in the Soho neighborhood (at 148 Lafayette St.) to a massive 70,000-square-foot loft in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.