Interview with Nick Hahn

Face2Face
Nick Hahn
Nick Hahn
Founder and CEO
Hahn International
Hahn International

Cotton world needs India, and India needs the world markets

Hahn International Limited (HIL) is a full-service broker, serving clients nationwide for over 20 years. It assists customers through the entire process of importing goods, ensuring orders are delivered on time and budget. HIL is a small, specialist firm focusing on natural fibre textiles with emphasis on value added branding, marketing and sales. It has a strong portfolio of carefully vetted service providers doing brand identity, social media, websites, graphic design and trade show exhibits. The company has experience with 501 and 501c3 trade organisations managing, fund raising and motivating, and a wide network of relationships within the global textile, fashion and retail community.

A whole lot of synthetic fibres are coming up. Do they pose a threat to natural fibre textiles? Or, do you think synthetics are critical to ensure that the demand for natural fibres does not go out of hand?

I do not think synthetics threaten natural fibres. On the contrary, they enhance each other with unique characteristics. Synthetics help naturals achieve wrinkle-resistance and make them stronger and more durable. Naturals enhance the aesthetics of synthetics making them softer, more luxurious and enhancing appearance. Natural fibres "breathe", helping synthetics become more comfortable to wear.

In terms of environmental sustainability and usage across industries, how do synthetic fabrics fare vis-a-vis the natural?

Degradable natural fibres have an advantage over synthetics when it comes to the environment. That said, there are developments in the pipeline to aid the environmental sustainability of synthetics.

You have been in this industry for more than two decades. How do you expect the natural fibre niche to grow in the years ahead? What are the main problems plaguing it? And what is the path that needs to be followed globally to solve the issues?

You can't bunch all natural fibres together in this statement. Cotton, for example, is hardly a "niche" fibre as it owns approximately 40 per cent of the world's fibre market. Cotton, like other farm-bred fibres like wool, cashmere, alpaca, silk, vicuna, and coir, has performance characteristics that have never been duplicated by synthetics. At best, they have only been imitated. I expect all textile fibres to expand with increases in world population and growth of the middle class with disposable income. For natural fibres, the issue is production impacted by weather and price. Naturals are traded on commodity markets and prices fluctuate according to the laws of supply and demand. These fluctuations cause problems for the spinning mills when they forecast their costs.

With so many years and a number of designations across various companies and associations in textile, what next do you aspire to accomplish in your career?

My strength is in developing ingredient product brands for commodity textile fibres. Think Intel inside a computer, NutraSweet in a Diet Coke, Apple in a smartphone, Gore-Tex in a ski jacket etc. I built US cotton into a global brand -- Cotton: The Fabric Of Our Lives -- by recruiting the best staff and marketing help I could find. I also believe in nation branding, such as New Zealand Dairy, Swiss Chocolate, French Wine, Italian Silk, Mongolian Cashmere etc. This strategy can build a quality image for a given product within a country skilled at producing that product.
Published on: 23/12/2014

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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