Recently, Julie Reiser, vice president of marketing and business development for Made in the USA Foundation was a key note speaker in New York City at the July 2014 TexWorld USA conference for their “Made in America” panel and seminar. Arthur Friedman a journalist from WWD (Womens Wear Daily) published a great article summarizing the trade show and the “Made in America” seminar.
Production Playing Field Leveling Out Worldwide
A more democratic era has emerged in global sourcing thanks a series of events and shifting buying patterns.
July 29, 2014 – NEW YORK — A more democratic era has emerged in global sourcing.
The playing field has been made more even by a confluence of events, from rising labor prices in China and factory disasters and labor crises in Southeast Asia to investments in manufacturing in the U.S. and shifting purchasing strategies by retailers and brands. The revival of Made in America is real and Western Hemisphere production is more important, but China is far from fading away and Vietnam and other Asian nations are growing their markets, as well. The desire for natural fibers and fabrics is strong, but a new generation of performance synthetics is also making headway.
These points were pervasive at several major trade shows here this month — the Texworld USA and Apparel Sourcing shows at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, Première Vision New York at Pier 92 and Spinexpo at the Metropolitan Pavilion.
While some of these sourcing trends had a divergent nature, two areas had a clear path — the need for sustainability from farm to store shelf and the necessity of corporate social responsibility in every step along the supply chain.
Karine Van Tassel, founder and organizer of Spinexpo, said part of the growth of the show’s New York edition has been the resurgence of manufacturing in the U.S. and the Western Hemisphere.
“I think Made in America is coming back,” Van Tassel said. “The world in its globalization is also entering an equilibrium. The leveling is everywhere.”
She said for mass production, China is still the go-to place, but in Europe and the U.S., the structure is geared toward more niche products and smaller runs.
“What is important is the quality of what is made, and the ability to make it no matter where it is,” she added.
Spinexpo is being more selective in its exhibitors and attendees. The New York edition, staged once a year versus its larger venue in Shanghai held semiannually, featured primarily yarn firms and knitters from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
“We are pushing our exhibitors to exhibit in a better way, to show themselves with a little bit more fashion,” Van Tassel said. “What I want is to deliver the same message, that the industry is global, that quality is what matters no matter where it comes from, and that has not been easy in New York, but this year I think it’s finally happening. We have better exhibitors, better buyers and the feedback has been very positive. We’re certainly going to have a bigger show next time, but not without continuing to be selective.”
Many of the 10 U.S. mills and suppliers at Texworld said their businesses had become more dynamic in the past few years as the revival of the once-counted-for-dead textile industry took hold.
David Sasso, vice president of international sales at Buhler Quality Yarns, said, “For us, domestic sales are growing a little, mainly because the L.A. market is flat, but our export business continues to be strong, notably in South America and the CAFTA [Central American Free-Trade Agreement] countries.”
Sasso said Buhler’s exports to China have grown in the past year, and the company is also seeing growth in shipments to Vietnam. He said that’s one reason Buhler is not concerned about the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement being negotiated. The domestic textile industry has been lobbying for a yarn-forward rule of origin, but Sasso, who also favors that stipulation, said, “You have to find out who the players are in that country and how you can develop a business with them, no matter what the country is. If you can offer something different that they can’t get in their own market, then you can take advantage of the opportunity.”
He said Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s commitment to invest $250 billion cumulatively in Made in America products over 10 years has definitely been spurring business and Buhler is prepared to be part of it.
“Their commitment is real and they’re doing a great service to the industry and their customers,” he added. “It’s also going to create U.S. jobs, which is a great thing.”
There have also been major investments from companies such as Gildan Activewear, Richelieu Group and Unifi Inc. to expand or build facilities in the South.
David Roshan, president of Laguna Fabrics in Los Angeles, said, “Our business is great and has been for the past year. We sell mostly to the contemporary market in Los Angeles, but also a lot to Mexico andCentral America. We get a lot of inquiries from brands and retailers who say, ‘We want Made in America.’ It’s a great time right now.”
Laguna, which focuses on Lenzing’s Tencel and Modal fibers, has been seeing strong business in sweater knits and French terry, as well as indigo knits that resemble denim.
Matthew Burnett, cofounder of Maker’s Row, which connects small businesses and U.S.-based manufacturers through a database and networking opportunities, speaking on a panel discussion of “Made in the Americas,” said the New York company has 5,000 American manufacturers and suppliers registered in apparel and textiles and furniture and home decor, and 40,000 brands connected to Maker’s Row trying to manufacture in the U.S.
“Not everybody is shifting everything back here,” Burnett said. “It’s not going to be that quick. A lot of them are just testing the waters, but we’re more then happy to try to facilitate these opportunities for both the American manufacturers and these brands, because they both have an incredibly difficult time finding each other.”
He said a lot of young entrepreneurs looking to start their own lines and companies turn to Maker’s Row to connect them to factories that are willing to work with them.
“Once these people start to develop their businesses, they find that the cost of labor is balanced by the cost of shipping and the shipping time, and the overall cost of importing,” he said. “The turnaround time is the main reason they’re looking for domestic manufacturing and they’re able to produce a lot smaller quantities at a time, so it’s a lot safer for them, as well.”
Burnett said Maker’s Row is “growing deep and wide, going into more industries and industry hubs.” For instance, it recently helped organize factories and entrepreneurs from Newark to join in, and is building a database for the furniture industry.
Julie Reiser, vice president of marketing and business development for Made in the USA Foundation, said the organization aims to promote products manufactured and assembled in the U.S. It pursues litigation and legislative activity to strengthen and uphold labeling laws and standards, and is involved in “raising the bar concerning minimum wages, environmental standards, labor rights and human rights, including eliminating child labor.”
Reiser said, “Most importantly, we work to create good-paying jobs in the USA and a sustainable, environmentally sound and healthy economy.”
Reiser noted that the group also supports international environmental standards for power plants, steel mills and factories, which she said will “reduce global warming and make competition fair for U.S. manufacturers.” Reiser cited statistics from a Harris Poll the organization commissioned last year that showed 75 percent of respondents would pay up to 10 percent more for made in U.S. products, and 55 percent would pay up to 20 percent more.