Mr. Ron McPherson
President and CEO
What is the current market scenario for lifestyle apparel manufacturers in the US? How do you expect the market for lifestyle apparel to grow in US in the coming years?
The lifestyle apparel market in 2013 is significantly better than 2009-2010 for obvious reasons. All market segments were hurt very badly by the Great Recession. The lifestyle apparel segment has clawed back some of the losses of that difficult period but the market is and always will be very competitive and a segment that is ruled by the law of the “survival of the fittest.”
There are a variety of factors affecting lifestyle apparel in 2013, but the most significant is retail transformation. Internet sales growth and traditional retail “brick and mortar” decline or change is transforming the industry. Consumers are moving rapidly to purchasing lifestyle apparel online and brick and mortar retailers are converting a portion of their sales as quickly as they can.
Moreover, the ongoing challenge of being “on trend” with your designs and fabrications is always at the forefront. The challenge of telling the story of your brand and selling your product offering is crucial and ongoing. The ongoing challenge of sourcing quality products at quality mills who meet fair labor and social compliance standards becomes a greater challenge every day.
With this change, apparel manufacturers have to adapt to the needs of the online retailers with emphasis on “speed to market.” Time frames for production are getting significantly condensed. Images for presentation online are required by the online retailer as well as other non-traditional services. This retail transformation is creating new business rules, new business models and changing the way apparel manufacturers see the world.
Therefore, to meet the needs of the changing business climate, especially the speed to market factor, lifestyle apparel manufacturers are utilizing a variety of technologies to speed the design process and production process to meet the retail demand for “fresh goods now”.
PLM Systems connecting design and the manufacturer from the very beginning to receipt of goods have helped to make the time frames shorter and the communication clearer. With most design being done in the U.S. and most cut and sew being done outside the U.S. every minute counts. A significant portion of goods from the mills in various parts of the world are also being air freighted despite the cost, in order to get the goods to markets quickly.
Lifestyle apparel will continually grow over the coming years as our population grows and new concepts, designs and fabrics are introduced. As mentioned, earlier, it is a “survival of the fittest” business. Many new brands will enter the market and many will disappear. Those that are the most innovative, nimble and marketing savvy will have a chance to survive.
Published on: 15/11/2013
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.