Interview with Dr Claudio D Martelli

Dr Claudio D Martelli
Dr Claudio D Martelli
Trigon Select
Trigon Select

What are the major challenges that the global apparel industry faces? What kind of impact will the US-China trade war have on the industry?

The following are some of the major challenges:
  • Fast fashion with increasing disruption for the two-season collection model to fast fashion with up to 12 collections and more per year leading to much smaller volumes per style requiring considerably higher levels of flexibility from apparel manufacturers
  • Shorter production life cycles
  • Productivity improvements are necessary to face increasing wage levels in lower-cost countries
  • Due to the growing dominance of vertical retail suppliers and e-commerce platforms, classic high street retail is suffering 
  • Sustainability and traceability are becoming a must for a growing number of international buyers 
On the US-China trade war, as the actions of the US Administration are currently unpredictable, it is hardly possible to foresee the outcome of the trade battle. Should the US impose high import duties on apparel made in China, it is likely that Chinese suppliers would further shift capacities to other Asian countries as this is already happening because of the growing manufacturing costs in China. Moreover, a significant decrease in demand for Chinese apparel would entail a growing price pressure in other major international markets with negative consequences for apparel manufacturers in competing countries.  

Which are the popular sourcing regions for sportswear, functional apparel and smart clothing?

While the Far East and South Asia are still highly influential, the nearer geographical areas of production where land transport can be used to get goods to market faster are beginning to appeal to buyers. Therefore, for Europe, the Eastern European countries (including the Balkans) and Russia (for serving the domestic market) are becoming increasingly important. Due to the strong depreciation of the Turkish lira, Turkey is back again as an attractive source for apparel to European markets. A similar trend can be observed for the US market, where Latin American nations and Mexico are becoming appealing to the US buyers again.

What are top five trends that you see in apparel sourcing?

The following are the top trends:
  • Fast fashion leads to shorter deliveries and smaller volumes; proximity to the market enabling speed of service and delivery and improved flexible manufacturing
  • Global high street and online retailers are increasingly dominating the apparel/fashion market requiring competitive manufacturing costs through performance improvements   and stronger partnerships between buyer and supplier through better communications, technology and integration of procedures
  • Sustainability of the apparel products and the manufacturer in terms of social and environmental compliance requiring higher levels of transparency and traceability 
  • Casual and sportswear have conquered global markets to the disadvantage of formalwear

What would be your suggestions to apparel manufacturers to be future-ready?

My suggestion includes increased use of professional management tools like industrial engineering and  project management to drive change and react to fashion and industry changes, more creativity for improved productivity, better skills training at all levels of production staff, search for competitive advantage, and international buyers prefer more and more to have suppliers able to offer full service rather than Cut, Make/ Cut, Make & Trim. 

As a result, and on top of our evaluations, Trigon Select can provide the technical and managerial support to achieve levels of performance required by international markets.  

What new features do you plan to add to your audits?

We plan to add the assessment of the creative and merchandising process. (HO)
Published on: 17/12/2018

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

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