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What are the short term targets of USA’s apparel industry?
I think USA apparel industry is very fortunate right now and we have seemingly begun a steady recovery from the recession and global financial crises, although some other western countries are lagging behind still. Our apparel growth is about three to four percent per year right now. I hope we can maintain that growth and I think we will considering the impact of e-commerce, which is growing very rapidly. This impact will help the whole retail market. Malls and brick-and-mortar retail will not go away, but there will be significant changes in the number of malls and size of stores in the future; the key for retail success today in omnichannel engagement, That actually plays very well into Alvanon’s strengths because as the experts on sizing and fit, we can help retailers on e-commerce optimize their sizing standards so they can reduce apparel returns. This is going to be a key issue on the e-commerce portals going forward.
What are your views about ethical sourcing with regards to your company?
Ethical sourcing is very important for the entire industry. We have a very strong environmental philosophy. Our mannequins are produced in a very sustainable way. The use of the mannequins in the supply chain allows retailers and brands to produce many fewer samples. If they use the mannequins properly they can reduce the number of samples in pre-production by up to 80%.This helps to create a much more sustainable supply chain.
USA is the biggest importer of textiles. Does this mean that there is scarcity of textile producers in USA?
I don’t think that there is any scarcity. I think the world has changed over the last 25 years. When I was starting in the industry, almost hundred percent of the textiles that we used in our uniforms were produced in USA. And very little was imported. That changed over the last 25 years because many countries, including India, have become much more efficient manufacturers of textiles. And the other issue for textile production today is that more and more retailers and brands are seeking packaged deals where they buy a garment and not just the textile. So, there is lot of textile production capacity in the United States but most of that is geared towards military uniforms which are, by law, required to be made in USA. The USA also provides innovative textiles, such as nanotextiles.
With basic product, it is much more efficient to procure the textiles where the garment making takes place. China is the biggest suppler to the USA Places like Vietnam, Philippines etc. are big producers of such products. It is primarily because the brands are now buying a finished product not just the textile or raw materials.
What is the need of the hour of American Apparel Industry that needs to be addressed?
The American apparel industry is very open to free trade around the world. Many people looked at the American apparel industry in the past as protectionist. I don’t think that’s necessarily true. The American apparel industry looks for competition from around the world. The world is fast today. The need of the hour is to better position the American apparel industry for exports of products that we produce and open our country to import the products that can be best made elsewhere. And as you see this equilibrium, it will make the industry a better place.
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