Saitex, A Sustainability Manufacturing Star, Opens L.A. Facility

By California Apparel News

This article was published in California Apparel News March 18, 2021. We are sharing because it provides an example of two factors likely to shape U.S. manufacturing: sustainability (also this month's Behind the Seams theme) and technology integration.

Saitex, a Vietnam-headquartered denim manufacturer that has been considered one of the pioneers in sustainable-denim production, recently opened its first United States facility, in Vernon, Calif., an industrial city neighboring downtown Los Angeles, said Sanjeev Bahl, chief executive officer and the company’s founder.

The company has cultivated a reputation for building a clean denim factory and has received accreditation from widely respected eco-sustainability groups including bluesign, Fair Trade and LEED. Saitex’s factory will be a “factory of the future” offering leading-edge manufacturing technology with an eye toward environmental impacts, Bahl said.

“Saitex USA is another step in our journey, providing an opportunity to bring sustainable manufacturing and jobs to the United States, a first step in reevaluating and reinventing global supply chains,” Bahl said.

The Los Angeles–area facility will feature the latest innovative laser-cutting machines, semi-automated sewing, robotic spraying, 3D laser detailing and futuristic one-step wash machines that are connected to a state-of-the-art water-recycling system.

The factory’s technology will give the facility a competitive advantage. Its automated supply chain, which uses a cloud-based digital platform as a service—or PaaS—will give it the ability to offer shorter lead times, which includes offering clients “made-to-order” jobs, according to a brand statement. It also has hired 230 people. At maximum capacity, it will employ 300 people.

The Los Angeles area has long been a center for denim production, and it is also an address for wash houses that offer sustainable-denim-production techniques. However, Saitex’s move to the area may challenge other denim producers to further develop their sustainability businesses, said Derek Sabori, a sustainability consultant, educator and entrepreneur who makes the sustainable line The Kozm.

“They are considered a best-in-class denim solution,” Sabori said “They’re innovative and forward thinking. Saitex is not just focused on environmental impacts but also is focused on social impacts. That means that Saitex is looking out for people in supply-chain communities and how they are treated, in addition to addressing and lowering environmental impacts. That is what sustainability is all about. It’s balancing impacts on people, the planet and making sure that businesses are doing well economically.”

Saitex’s high-profile clients include the California-headquartered brand Outerknown. Outerknown will be working with the Los Angeles facility, said John Moore, an Outerknown co-founder.

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