San Diego has emerged as a hub for clothing and apparel manufacturing in recent years. With its proximity to the fashion epicenter of Los Angeles, coupled with its business-friendly environment and talented workforce, San Diego offers the ideal location for apparel companies to set up manufacturing operations.
The San Diego apparel manufacturing industry generates over $9 billion in annual revenues and provides employment to thousands of workers. San Diego is home to companies specializing in fast fashion, activewear, swimwear, intimates, childrenswear and more. Apparel manufacturing began thriving in San Diego in the 1980s, as many companies moved production across the border from Mexico. This allowed businesses to take advantage of reduced costs while still having proximity to their headquarters and design facilities in Southern California.
Today, San Diego’s skilled workforce produces high-quality garments using state-of-the-art technology and equipment. The region offers plentiful options for expert pattern makers, sample makers, cutters, sewers and production managers. San Diego also provides companies access to high-quality fabrics and trims from around the world through its port and airport. Many manufacturers in the region leverage quick turnaround capabilities to respond rapidly to the latest fashion trends.
This article highlights eight of the top clothing and apparel manufacturers in San Diego. These companies range from large-scale producers of popular brands to custom designers creating made-to-order pieces. They demonstrate the diversity, innovation and talent that make San Diego’s fashion manufacturing scene thrive.
American Apparel is one of the largest clothing manufacturers in North America. Founded in 1989, the company operates a 270,000 square foot factory in downtown Los Angeles along with distribution centers and manufacturing facilities in other parts of California including San Diego.
American Apparel specializes in the production of casual basics such as T-shirts, sweaters, dresses, leggings and more. The company prides itself on ethical, sweatshop-free manufacturing domestically. All of American Apparel’s operations from design to distribution take place in its Southern California facilities.
American Apparel is best known for its casual wardrobe basics including:
- T-shirts – Available in a wide range of colors and styles, American Apparel’s cotton tees are popular for their comfort and fit.
- Leggings – The company offers leggings in cotton, nylon and other blends ideal for loungewear and athleticwear.
- Sweatshirts and Hoodies – American Apparel produces high-quality cotton and poly-cotton blend sweatshirts and hoodies.
- Underwear and Socks – Known for their soft, breathable everyday underwear and socks.
- Dresses – Casual short sleeve dresses and babydoll styles in jersey cotton knits.
The company also manufactures denim, pullover sweaters, vintage-inspired bodysuits and one-piece swimsuits. American Apparel prides itself on manufacturing wardrobe basics and bestsellers year after year with a consistency in quality and fit.
American Apparel’s manufacturing takes place at its facilities in Los Angeles and San Diego using the latest technology alongside skilled sewers. Cutting is done using computer-controlled lasers or automated presses to ensure precision and consistency. Sewing operations leverage industrial high-speed machines combined with talented workers adept at producing the company’s signature fit. Fabric dyeing happens in a 60,000 square foot facility to color the company’s custom-milled knits.
Komar is a leading producer of intimates and sleepwear based in San Diego. Founded in 1908, the company designs, manufactures and markets a wide range of innerwear and loungewear for men, women and children.
Komar operates a 150,000 square foot manufacturing facility and distribution center in San Diego. This state-of-the-art facility houses production lines for underwear, thermals, socks and activewear. Komar employs over 300 skilled workers and leverages technology for efficient, high-volume production.
Komar specializes in the following intimates and sleepwear:
- Bras and panties
- Thermal underwear
- Sleep shirts and pajamas
- Robes and loungewear
The company produces both women’s and men’s underwear ranging from basic cotton briefs and tank tops to seamless microfiber boyshorts and trunks. Komar’s shapewear line includes light control camis and slips as well as targeted tummy and rear shapers.
For sleepwear, Komar manufactures cotton, flannel and jersey knit pajama sets, nightgowns and robes. The company also has a children’s collection with playwear and sleep essentials.
Komar has implemented several sustainability initiatives:
- Solar panels provide 80% of the energy used in their San Diego facility.
- Recycled polyester and nylon are used in select products.
- Water recycling systems reduce consumption by over 20 million gallons per year.
- Organic cotton, bamboo and other eco-fabrics are used in some garments.
The company also engages in ethical manufacturing practices and is a member of the Fair Labor Association.
True Gault is a high-end apparel manufacturer located in San Diego, specializing in bespoke and ready-to-wear women’s fashion. Founded in 2013, the company operates a 60,000 square foot factory with modern equipment and skilled artisans producing premium knitwear and specialty garments.
True Gault’s factory houses every part of the manufacturing process from designing patterns and cutting fabric to sewing, finishing and quality control. This vertical integration enables tight monitoring at every step. The company employs master pattern makers, expert sample makers, and experienced production and factory workers.
The product range includes knit tops, dresses, bottoms, sweaters and outerwear. True Gault utilizes premium Italian yarns and fine gauge knitting machines to craft luxury knitwear. The focus is on fit, quality and attention to detail.
True Gault designed its San Diego headquarters as a modern, sustainable manufacturing facility featuring:
- Cutting-edge Italian knitting machines and knitwear equipment.
- Pattern making and design rooms for rapid sampling and prototyping.
- Solar panels providing clean energy to power operations.
- Zone temperature control to maintain ideal conditions for materials.
- Recycling systems for fabrics, yarns and water conservation.
The factory houses the full sample room, knitting, cutting, sewing and finishing production lines on-site. This enables True Gault to maintain exceptional quality control at every manufacturing step. The facility has capacity for over 300,000 garments per year.
Silk Road Clothing
Silk Road Clothing is a San Diego-based manufacturer of women’s contemporary apparel. Founded in 1996, the company designs, produces and markets sophisticated knit tops, dresses, skirts and other separates sold at major retailers.
Silk Road operates a vertically integrated 120,000 square foot manufacturing facility in San Diego. The company employs over 600 workers specializing in making fine gauge knits with intricate details. Silk Road prides itself on combining European-inspired styles with flattering fits designed for the American woman’s body.
Silk Road Clothing specializes in affordable luxury knitwear including:
- Tops – tanks, camisoles, blouses, tunics featuring unique knit patterns and textures.
- Dresses – sheaths, shifts, shirtdresses in custom-developed knits.
- Skirts – classic pencil skirts, A-line skirts, knit peasant skirts.
- Sweaters – fine gauge cardigans, pullovers and wraps.
- Outerwear – knit blazers, boleros and lightweight jackets.
The company is known for signature knitting techniques like pointelle stitching, ombre dying and lace detailing. Garments incorporate luxury touches like silk, cashmere and ultrasuede trims.
Silk Road manages the full supply chain from design to distribution:
- European yarns from Italy, France and Belgium.
- Prototype samples and patterns made in-house.
- Cutting and sewing at company factory using tactical production lanes.
- Strategic fulfillment center minimizes stockouts.
- Direct to consumer eCommerce site and wholesale retailer partners.
JAMS Worldwide is a major manufacturer of lifestyle and activewear clothing based in San Diego. Founded in 1988, JAMS specializes in producing high-quality t-shirts, fleeces, athleticwear and other casual apparel.
JAMS operates multiple manufacturing facilities in California and Mexico totaling over 500,000 square feet. The company employs over 2,000 workers and combines technology-driven production with hands-on quality control. JAMS has the capacity to produce over 20 million garments per year.
Design and Development
JAMS Worldwide has an in-house design team that stays on top of the latest trends in casual and activewear. Key design focuses include:
- Soft, comfortable fabrics in natural fibers like cotton, modal and rayon.
- Relaxed, effortless silhouettes inspired by Southern California lifestyle.
- Unique graphic prints developed in-house.
- Vintage-inspired details like embellishments and wash treatments.
- Innovative fabric technologies like moisture-wicking, UV protection, antimicrobial properties.
The company works closely with major retailers to develop custom fabrics and exclusive designs for their private label collections.
JAMS develops hundreds of new styles each season while staying true to their classics. All new products go through fit testing and wear testing to ensure quality.
SanMar is a major apparel wholesaler and clothing manufacturer located in San Diego. Founded in 1971, SanMar designs, produces and distributes blank t-shirts, fleece, outerwear and other activewear.
The company operates multiple distribution centers and manufacturing facilities across the United States totaling over 5 million square feet. SanMar employs over 2,500 people and manufactures or decorates over 83 million garments annually.
SanMar operates large-scale apparel manufacturing facilities in California, Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi. The company utilizes technology-driven automation combined with skilled workers to achieve high production volumes.
Key manufacturing capabilities include:
- High-speed, computer-controlled cutting machines ensure accuracy and consistency.
- Industrial sewing floors with machines optimized for specific operations like sleeve setting and stitching.
- In-house sublimation and decoration capabilities for graphic printing.
- Laundry systems that can wash and finish over 100,000 garments daily.
- Distribution centers across the country for fulfillment of orders.
This production scale enables SanMar to manufacture blank apparel and fulfill decorator orders with quick turnarounds. The company can ramp up or down as needed to meet changing demand.
SanMar has rigorous quality assurance processes with checkpoints throughout manufacturing:
- Materials are inspected upon arrival to meet standards.
- Automated cutting machines detect and reject flawed patterns.
- Production floor supervisors examine workmanship at set intervals.
- All finished garments go through final multi-point inspections.
- Random audits assess dimensions, construction, graphics and packaging.
This quality control ensures all apparel meets the company’s high standards before distribution.
Caruso Manufacturing is a made-to-measure menswear company located in San Diego, California. Founded in 2001, Caruso specializes in producing custom suits, sport coats, trousers, and shirts for individual clients.
Caruso operates a 25,000 square foot manufacturing facility in San Diego with approximately 100 skilled employees. The factory houses the full bespoke suit making process including pattern making, cutting, tailoring, and finishing. Caruso prides itself on state-of-the-art quality control at every step.
The company provides full custom clothing services for individual clients as well as uniform programs for private airline, hotel, casino, public service, and corporate accounts.
Caruso offers complete custom clothing manufacturing services:
- Consultation – Personal style evaluation and measurement session.
- Fabric Selection – Extensive selection of fine imported and domestic fabrics.
- Pattern Making – Precise patterns tailored to customer’s proportions.
- Cutting – Crafted by hand for optimal use of fabric.
- Tailoring – Meticulous hand-stitching and finishing using traditional techniques.
- Fittings – Multiple fittings to ensure optimal comfort, mobility and silhouette.
- Finishing – Hand-pressing, buttonholing, hemming and quality control.
Caruso’s custom process enables precise personalization with options for style details, linings, buttons, thread colors and monogramming.
Caruso manufactures custom clothing for:
- Individual clients, including businessmen, grooms and celebrities.
- Employee uniform programs for hotels, casinos, airlines and retailers.
- Specialty costumes for theater, television, historical reenactments and movies.
- Private brand manufacturing for specialty stores.
Castlebrook Apparel is a full-package clothing manufacturer located in San Diego, specializing in women’s knitwear and wovens. Founded in 1991, Castlebrook offers complete design, development, sourcing and manufacturing services for brands and retailers.
The company operates a 135,000 square foot vertically integrated facility housing the full sample room, cutting floor, multiple sewing lines and finishing departments. Castlebrook employs over 600 workers and utilizes the latest technology for efficient quality production.
Areas of Expertise
Castlebrook focuses on producing:
- Tops – knit and woven blouses, tunics, camisoles in cotton, modal, rayon and blends.
- Bottoms – skirts, pants, jeans, shorts featuring details like embroidery.
- Dresses – maxi, midi, mini from jersey knits and rayon challis.
- Outerwear – jackets, coats, ponchos and shrugs.
- Intimates – bralettes, chemises, rompers and sleepwear.
- Sweaters – fine gauge cardigans, pullovers and wraps.
The company leverages its manufacturing expertise to offer full-package production encompassing design, sourcing, fitting, manufacturing and quality assurance.
Key advantages that set Castlebrook apart include:
- In-house sample room for rapid prototypes and revisions.
- Local design and production avoids long lead times.
- Flexible ordering systems facilitate small batch and replenishment orders.
- Compliance with leading social and environmental standards.
- Vertically integrated facility controls quality through entire process.
These advantages allow Castlebrook to provide exceptional service, quality and lead times for brands and retailers.
San Diego has firmly established itself as a hub for apparel manufacturing, combining proximity to L.A.’s fashion designers with favorable operating conditions. Companies like American Apparel, Komar and Castlebrook leverage San Diego’s talented workforce and state-of-the-art facilities to produce high-quality garments for major clothing brands as well as their own labels. From intimate apparel and activewear to ready-to-wear and bespoke suiting, San Diego’s manufacturing expertise spans the range of apparel categories and production needs. The companies profiled exemplify the diversity, innovation and capabilities that make San Diego a standout clothing manufacturing center.