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Canadian buyers care about quality, compliance, labour practices, and fair-trade
JP Communications is a parent company to TopTenWholesale.com and Manufacturer.com and the producer of Canada's first-ever apparel and textile sourcing trade show. Fibre2Fashion spoke to Jason Prescott, CEO, JP Communications before the show to get an insight into opportunities and challenges faced by the Canadian apparel industry.
Please provide us an overview of the Canadian apparel industry.
You first need to understand that Canada is a very small country with a population of about 30 million people. These 30 million people are located in the thriving areas of the country like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Toronto, specifically, has had a very robust retail economy for many years and is one of the old hot-spots throughout the world with consistent wealth. There are a lot of major retailers like Nordstrom that continue to expand. You have brands that are thriving, entrepreneurialism that is growing, incubators that are in place, fashion designers that are emerging, and you have trends that are being set in Canada. So I think the state of the apparel industry in Canada is very strong.
At what rate is the apparel industry in Canada is growing?
The total size of the apparel market in retail in 2015 was about CAD 30.25 billion. It has now gone up by 4.8 per cent from the previous year. The imports (at wholesale) are at about CAD 12.4 billion and approximately 2500 firms in the industry (FIMS) in the industry.
Who are the major exporters of fibre, yarn and fabrics to Canadian apparel makers?
China, Vietnam, India, and Taiwan are major exporters of fibre, yarn and fabrics to Canadian apparel makers.
What are your expectations from the first apparel sourcing fair in Canada?
We are hitting big numbers. We organised this in just five months. We have 178 booths and about 173 trade exhibitors. There are 11 countries participating and an amazing line-up of the best speakers in the textile world from Marylin Tam, the former vice president of Nike and former president of Reebok, to Jeff Streader, the former COO of Billabong and Guess, and the acting COO of American Apparel. Our line-up of coming into the show is very significant. We have over 2,500 pre-registered attendees now. Over 1,200 small retailers are participating. Through our database from Manufacturer.com and TopTenWholesale.com we have reached out to many people. Our expectations are as strong as they can be. We have the support of the Toronto Tourism Board, Canadian Apparel Federation, and institutes like Seneca School of Fashion.
Is Apparel Textile Sourcing Canada (ATSC) going to be an annual event? Would you like to share anything more about ATSC?
Absolutely! I am glad about the event. Canada has never had an international sourcing event or trade show and this is the first. We have so much growth in Canada but it has been under-served and under-nourished. Canadians are forced to either go to Las Vegas or New York and now they do not have to do that. Major retailers can save thousands of dollars and
can source, sitting in their backyard.
More importantly, we understand that Canadians are a different type of buyer. They differ from American or Europeans buyers. Canadians are concerned about quality, compliance, labour practices, and fair trade. That is why we put in a lot of time to make sure that we bring the best suppliers. We made sure that our teams and organisers help suppliers understand sustainability, compliance with labour systems and eco-friendly manufacturing. We understand that Canadians require much lower quantities than American markets and we have made sure that our suppliers can accommodate that.
We have a very strong panel with the Canadian Apparel Federation. We did a lot of research to make sure that the Canadian apparel market is serviced. This is not just going to be a trade show. We have opened our doors to students by partnering with universities and we want to make sure that entrepreneurs and students learn about what they are doing.
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