Cutting Edge Companies Focus on Consumer Needs: By Emma Birnbaum

The rules of the new garment industry have more in common with the artisan guilds of pre-industrialized Europe than with 21st century clothing conglomerates. The new suppliers value, endorse and employ artisans, craft, self-learning, bespoke apparel, hand-made, high quality, individuality, uniqueness and community.

The advent of industrialization made these qualities exclusive, only available to the wealthiest of the wealthy. The mass consumer is limited to homogeneous design and low quality stock manufactured by a faceless and perpetual assembly-line.

In reaction, cutting-edge companies, fueled by ethics, are developing original and revolutionary business models. Their intent is to bring back the craftsman and the artisan and make hand-made, bespoke and high quality available to the general consumer. The prototype paradigms are built on core competencies which are motivated and upheld by these values.

Core competence is a unique concept imbedded, developed and applied in every aspect of their organizations. Core competence informs every decision made and every product created.

Every core competence is shaped by three factors:

  • To provide potential access to a wide variety of markets,
  • To make a significant contribution to the perceived customer benefits of the end product,
  • Is difficult to imitate by competitors. (1)

In one way or another, strong core competence is prevalent in all successful More...

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2016:  Welcome to the New Fashion Consumer by Emma Birnbaum

Crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, radical transparency, slow fashion, minimalist dressing, the five-piece French Wardrobe, the curated wardrobe. These are terms that the new fashion consumer is using to redefine fashion.

If the supplier wants to meet the requirements of the new consumer he must also take into account sustainability, accountability, eco friendly, fair-trade and transparency.

To the new fashion consumer, ethics are intrinsic to the new paradigm of fashion and are equally important as the fit and the aesthetics. The suppliers that recognize the equal value of ethics and aesthetics are the only ones meeting the demands of the new consumer.

If you still believe that the consumer is not interested in ethics, check out the sale of angora. Suddenly angora is out of fashion. Major retailers, such as Gap, Calvin Klein and H&M have decided that angora is no longer a saleable item. This is not because angora is suddenly less aesthetically pleasing; but rather because videos leaked onto youtube revealed the abuse and torturer of bunny rabbits.

Ethics now count.

This is how I define the new fashion consumer:

  • Born after 1980;
  • Educated;
  • Financially independent;
  • Self-sufficient;
  • Self-confident and self-assured;
  • Pragmatic;
  • Skeptical;

Perhaps, most importantly, these are people who think of themselves as part of the world at large. Social More...

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It now appears that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) may actually come to pass.

Naturally garment industry professionals have jumped in to calculate just who will benefit from TPP and who will not.

Everyone agrees that Vietnam will be the big winner possibly followed Malaysia.

On the losing side, we have many to choose from.  These are my choices:

  • Thailand:  While the garment industry is relatively small by global standards, this country is home to a major textile industry that will be frozen out of TPP countries.  Better-late-than-never, the Thai Government is now looking into the possibility of joining.
  • Indonesia:  This country has both substantial garment and textile industries. Regrettably, this countries garment exports are in secular decline.  Without TPP that decline will accelerate. Indonesia too is joining the TPP wannabes.
  • India:  This country is home to one of the world’s largest textile export industries.  It also has a garment industry, which although doing relatively well faces serious long-term problems.  TPP can be the tipping point to decline.
  • Bangladesh:  This country is home to one of the world’s largest garment industries.  Nevertheless, it does face serious problems in compliance.  Here too TPP can be a killer.
  • DR-CAFTA:  T-shirts account for more than 52% of all garment exports from this free trade area.  Import tariffs More...

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Sustainability v Compliance v Social Overhead Capital v Personal Freedom v v v

Today I received the following comment from one of my most active readers:

“Surprised. Just-Style comment “Towards an Asian sustainable development strategy” talks about India in Myanmar, without mentioning labour. Was the “labour” out of the sustainable topic or nothing new mentioned? As the strikes are out of favor as the decades long trend continue, would the increasing militancy go away in its own, or by conscious effort?

Hope the July 15 Webinar will have answers.”

The reader was referring to an article, recently published by Just-Style, perhaps the most influential internet journal in our industry.”″ title=”Towards An Asian Sustainable Development Strategy”>

Problems related to garment industry workers are very serious indeed. In many countries child labor is endemic, minimum wages either too low to allow for healthy diet or simply not followed. Excessive overtime without a weekly rest day occurs in many factories. Worker safety is too often ignored and worker rights non-existent. The number and serious nature of these problems is growing. Frankly the efforts on the part of governments and garment exporting organizations has all too often proven to be meaningless.

However, these are More...

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