Interview with Sally Kay

Face2Face
Sally Kay
Sally Kay
President and CEO
The Hosiery Association
The Hosiery Association

Companies that embrace the philosophy of "I'm going to design a product and hope the consumer likes it," are quickly on the same path as of the dinosaur...

Sally Kay is the President and CEO of The Hosiery Association (THA). She shares her opinions about the various aspects of the legwear industry of USA with Fibre2Fashion Correspondent Manushi Gandhi. Synopsis: Founded in 1905, The Hosiery Association (THA) is a 108 years organization that works actively even today to preserve and promote the interest of people related to the legwear industry across the world. More than 90 percent of the legwear products sold in the US are represented by THA members. The organization provides special legal, technical as well as public relation support to its members. Legwear segment mainly includes products like socks, stockings etc. Sally Kay is associated with THA from last 23 years and loves the legwear industry. She has a vast knowledge of the legwear industry and handles key responsibilities like spokes person for the industry, publicity expert, media, government and legislative relationship etc. Sally currently serves on the Government's ITAC #13, the Cotton Board and NC State's College of Textiles Advisory Board. She is also a guest lecturer at NC State's College of Textiles. Excerpts:

What makes you so much interested in the textile and apparel sector?

I’ve worked with THA for almost 23 years now and have truly grown to love the legwear industry. I share the passion that many of the leaders do as well as embrace their entrepreneurial spirit. I have enjoyed working with the industry, the consumer, the government and the media to educate them about our variety of products. Yes, we do provide commodity products, but we also provide fashion accessories, and clearly foot protection. Our products blend function with fashion in every aspect. As our tagline say...we cover all walks of life.

Does the association support only the dealers of hosiery or other types of fabrics as well?

THA members consist of makers, marketers, distributors and sellers of hosiery/legwear products for the entire family. Additionally, any type of supplier like machinery, yarns, fibers, chemicals, packaging or service provider to the legwear industry is eligible for membership. THA membership is open to any eligible company worldwide.

What the various testing and labeling standards to be followed by textile or apparel producers in USA?

Testing and labeling are regulated by the government. These are very complex rules. Some are focused specifically on children’s products and others on all types of legwear products. Consumer product safety in general is a growing concern. Some states, such as California, have specific laws (California Proposition 65) which restricts the use of certain chemicals in consumer products. If it cannot be proven that those chemicals are not in the goods, the goods must either be marked/signage in place that states the fact that the product may pose a health risk to the consumer. The apparel/legwear industry is beginning to experience these additional testing procedure/labeling requests from the retailer. (Prop 65). The Restricted Substance List (RSL) is another tool used by the retail community that reviews what chemicals are not allowed in the respective goods. The list is somewhat varied by retailer and the number of restricted substances is increasing. Additional testing/labeling could be required by the retailer which depends on the retailer and the geographic sales.

Tell us something about the legwear industry i.e. kind of products, market trends, demand and supply etc.

The legwear industry represents a large variety of products...innovation is a driving trend in the performance sock market, particularly. What are the added benefits to the product...could it be compression, arch support, moisture management, moisturizing? Niche markets continue to evolve...walking, hiking, running, skating, skiing, yoga. Wellness and fitness are important way of life...exercise in general. Fashion for both men and women feature legwear/socks as key accessories. Celebrities and iconic figures both film, professional sports and past US presidents have positioned socks/hosiery to the forefront.

What is the significance of legwear production in the total textile/apparel industrial sector of USA?

The US legwear segment is one of the healthiest segments that remains within the overall textile/apparel industry. Unlike apparel, which requires various operational components to complete the finished consumer ready product, legwear can be a vertically integrated operation. What that means is that some facilities have the ability to take raw materials and transform them into a finished consumer ready product. Today’s US legwear companies quickly realized they need to become far more efficient in their manufacturing processes as they witnessed apparel companies flee off-shore. What’s interesting to note now is that I continue to receive inquiries on a weekly basis from both retailers and marketers looking for US production. Yes, there are a variety of markets to supply like commodity, medical, fashion, performance, casual, etc., but the bottom line is that successful companies regardless of geographic location get the right product on the right consumers feet and legs before their competition does.
Published on: 06/05/2013

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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