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Do you think that the trend of "reshoring" manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. is taking hold? What are the reasons?
Around 2000,the traditional textile and apparel industry in the US lost its competitiveness.The surviving textile industry operating in the US has managed to consolidate its position. A few US spinning mills (Pharr Yarns for example) seem to be very competitive with Asia). Reversal of this trend is not likely to happen for this labour-intensive, light industry. The textile and apparel value chain is highly integrated. Even if the US is able to spin Yarn competitively due to availability of local cotton and low energy cost,the downstream industry to convert that into fabrics and made ups requires large pools of labour with minimum wages.
A recent research report states that there is a doomsday scenario for US apparel retailers. Do you agree? What are the reasons?
This is part of interesting macro scenario constructed in Fashion Futures 2025 report brought out by Levi's Strauss. The question is : Can we still live in a fashion market which is not really based on consumers' needs but mostly on consumers' shopping impulse. Secondly, online shopping is revamping the entire traditional retail business model.
Do you agree that to turn a profit, retailers will close so many stores they will become irrelevant and become simply suppliers to large retail sites or they will become the equivalent of a local specialty shop? Can you explain on that a bit?
This is part of the retail industry's learning curve and will eventually reach a maturity point. One need not exaggerate the phenomenon. The shops will of course have to evolve into showrooms. In due time virtual shopping will gain shares however traditional stores will compete by reinventing their USP just like the modern day cinema halls in India did to woo cinegoers back from their home theatres.
The influence of e-commerce on garment retailing is tremendous. According to a study conducted by Ernst & Young, share of apparels in online retail sales in India is expected to increase in line with what prevails in the West.
Luxury brands are targeting young urban males rather than middle-aged women with sky-high credit limits. Do you agree? What are the reasons?
Luxury brands are always creating specific brands targeting specific consumer segments. Therefore,the key is to differentiate by offering exclusivity to the selected niche.
How do you think the trade incentives, including TPP, impact the textile and apparel industry in near future?
TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) will have a major impact on garment exports, particularly from Vietnam, by gaining duty free access to the US market, which is expected to be finalised in 2014. However due to the limitation imposed by the "yarn forward" rule of origin, local textile capacity will have to pick up. The rules of origin will however allow "regional cumulation". The future prospects are leading to renewed investment in the primary textile industry in that country.
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