The vote has been taken.  The ballots counted.  The results are in.

The word for 2014 is INNOVATION.

Not a bad choice.

Innovation is all about change — sometimes planned; often unplanned. For the garment industry, innovation can occur in many realms from design and technology to culture.

Cristobal Balenciaga showed the world what could be done with a wide range of fabric to produce clothing, which up to that moment had been thought to be impossible. Hubert de Givenchy use of cheap shirting as a couture material showed the world what could be done with the most limited range of material, which up to that moment had been thought to be impossible. Both Balenciaga and Givenchy were men of genius.  But that is not innovation

Charles Frederick Worth, on the other hand may have been the greatest innovator in the history of the modern garment industry.  In 1857, when Worth opened shop in Paris, fashion having gone through four successive disasters was dying.

In the 18th century women of the aristocracy had their own in-house complete dressmaking establishments.  The Countess or Duchess had been trained by her aristocratic mother to understand the importance of show in society.  She would sit with her own personal stylista to discuss the best most outstanding gown for the next social event.  Sketches were drawn; fabric suppliers called in, and the final version handed over to the in house More...

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New Patterns of Sourcing


I:  Major customers are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their current garment supplying countries.

Two reasons:

1.   Asian Garment export capacity is falling.  This should not come as a surprise.  This trend has been developing for some time.  (I have written extensively on this subject

a.    The domestic market demand in every country has been growing.  Local sales are easier and more profitable than exports.  Local factories everywhere have been shifting production to meet that demand.

b.    As economies develop, other industries such as electronics are proving more attractive than garment making to both to investors and workers.

c.     Demographics particularly in China are working against the garment industry.  Our sewers are mostly women aged 18-25.  China’s median age is approaching 36, with the result that even Chinese factories are moving out of China

2.     Major supplying countries have serious problems:

a   Bangladesh

U.S. customers view Bangladesh as a disaster waiting to happen.  Unlike their European counterparts are taking a proactive approach


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About Denim

Some weeks ago, I was asked to fill out a questionnaire, giving my opinion about near-term denim pants retail sales.  As my clients will be the first to tell you, my knowledge of marketing is somewhat below Zilch.  However, I do have knowledge of the global industry, and under the circumstances, I thought it more appropriate for me to provide relevant data about the current state of U.S. denim pants (jeans) imports, in the hope that those of you who are marketing specialists may use this information to make your own, more educated conclusions.

All of the data for this article comes directly from the U.S. Government Office of Textile and Apparel.  It is freely available from the OTEXA website.  I would also say that it is probably the most accurate and complete garment trade data available any where in the world.[i]

Now to business

The Denim Decline

Walking down any street in any city in the U.S., you might think that at least half the people you pass are wearing blue denim pants (jeans) This may well be true.  Perhaps despite the best efforts of the hi-tech denim-garment-distress industry, jeans still last longer than other types of cotton pants and therefore require fewer replacements. On the other hand, this perception may be the result of some alien induced mass hallucination.

Whatever the cause, I can assure you that once again perception has proven wrong.

The truth is that More...

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India’s Global Garment Initiative: Part I – Governance

As we have discussed in the previous articles, India’s garment factories face strategic and systemic barriers, which by definition cannot be overcome by either the individual factories or even by the industry working as a whole.  Until Government is willing to phase out its policy of favoring the local textile industry against local garment makers (and farmers), thus creating a level playing field, India’s garment factories will not be able to compete effectively on the world market.

However, even with the removal of these barriers, India’s garment export factories will not be able to reach their full potential without overcoming their self-imposed operational obstacles.

Among the most important is the issue of governance — compliance and sustainability.

The whole business of governance is filled with misunderstanding, evasion, dissimulation and lies.

On the customer side, brand labels and retailers insist that they must impose code of governance to ensure their suppliers meet the minimum standards acceptable to the civilized world.

On the supplier side, many factories consider governance to be a public relations scam, imposed by their customers to sound good to their consumers.  Quite correctly they point to decades of unfair audits where factories where suppliers throughout Asia were branded as exploiters while those located in Bangladesh were given a free-pass for even the most egregious systematic failures.

To many in More...

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