What’s in Vogue with Sourcing Trends: News from Sourcing at MAGIC

Sourcing at MAGIC, held for four days in late August 2013 as part of the mammoth MAGIC Market Week in Las Vegas, once again attracted a large and diverse mix of apparel and accessories exhibitors from across the globe, this year totaling 1,227.

Aside from the buying itself, among some of the top attractions were an Innovations Zone, co-sponsored by the Specialty Graphic Image Association (SGIA) to highlight new techniques developed in screen printing and digital printing on apparel, as well as new eco-friendly platforms that are safely using direct-to-garment inkjets; eight fashion shows hosted by TradeGood; and a Global Artisan Showcase, where attendees could find gifts and handicrafts available for sale in small quantities. A breadth of seminars also was featured, including Apparel’s 7th Annual Sourcing Summit at MAGIC.

While top-producing regions from Asia certainly had a much bigger presence, The Americas Pavilion was once again featured. And though the exhibiting U.S. contingent was not huge, on both the show floor and in seminars there continued to be conversation and interest in producing in the Americas and closer to market. Clearly, the impetus to consider relocating at least a portion of production runs the gamut from rising labor costs in Asia, to recent tragedies in mismanaged third-world countries, to a desire for speed to market, better supply chain visibility and leaving a smaller carbon footprint.    

JCP seeks to diversify country of origin
Amy Leonard, senior vice president, sourcing, J.C. Penney, said the retailer has not done a good enough job utilizing sources in the Americas. With a presence in El Salvador, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua and more, she said JCP is starting to explore Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

“We know it will never be the cheapest, but there is a lot of value. There are ways to cost average and we intend to do a lot more of that,” said Leonard, who spoke at a seminar hosted by the United States Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel (USAITA).

As JCP works to rebalance national, exclusive and private brands and bring more focus back to private brands such as Liz and St. John’s Bay, Leonard said the retailer will strive for country-of-origin diversification. JCP is exploring Sri Lanka again and Leonard said it will consider moves to new countries in partnerships with suppliers who are willing to make investments. She noted that Vietnam and China still remain very important, and on Bangladesh, she said: “We are committed to staying. Leaving is not the answer.”

In terms of countries JCP is considering, they align with the fastest-growing apparel suppliers to the United States.  For the year ended June 30, 2013, the top three are Haiti, showing a 15.60 percent growth; Vietnam, up 12.28 percent; and Sri Lanka, up 12.09 percent, according to USITA. (See page 38 on Top Apparel Suppliers to the United States.)  

Speaking at Apparel’s Sourcing at MAGIC, Linda Goldstein, vice president, global sourcing, production & quality for lululemon athletica, said that being a man-made fiber brand and having proprietary fabrics can sometimes limit production choices. Lululemon has production in both the United States and Canada and also imports. Goldstein added that the brand remains open to new options, a case in point being one of its suppliers that is looking to go to the Dominican Republic.

“We have a long-term view of where we can make our fabrics,” said Goldstein. “We find that if you are in the right conversations sometimes possibilities come to you.” 

Made in the USA
A session on Made in USA, moderated by Ilse Metchek, president of the California Fashion Association, highlighted some of the economic value of producing stateside, including the fact that the women’s U.S. cut-and-sew sector is the largest job multiplier in apparel, wherein 100 direct employees equals 259 jobs.

Dave Schiff, partner/CEO of Made Movement, a marketing agency dedicated to supporting a resurgence in American manufacturing, spoke in the aforementioned session about the need for product first.

“We have been in business just over a year and we have yet to pull Made in USA as the forward point in our campaigns. A product has to exist on its own merit. The new Made in America first and foremost must be a superior product. But on the back end of that purchase is jobs, fair labor, a smaller carbon footprint. The more progressive shopper is looking for that. So don’t lead with USA. You still have to have a brand that celebrates how kickass your product is,” said Schiff.  

Matthew Burnett, CEO, Maker’s Row, is a former designer who has created an online marketplace for small businesses looking to produce in the United States. His goal is to make the manufacturing process simple to understand and easy to access. He noted that more than 75 percent of entrepreneurs give up before they ever make a product.

“We help people break down the process,” Burnett said during the Made in USA session. “We don't want to be a ‘Yellow Pages.’  You need access to the process, not just a list of resources.”

And as for exporting product made in the United States, Tom Travis, managing partner, Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, noted, “One of the most valuable exports we have is the American value system.”

The next Sourcing at MAGIC will be held February 17-20, 2014 in Las Vegas. Visit magiconline.com to learn more. 

Susan S. Nichols is publisher of Apparel and may be reached at [email protected].
This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds