Los Angeles area manufacturers are going to need regulatory relief — and a more global perspective — if they are to take advantage of the growing opportunities to bolster local apparel manufacturing.
This was among the messages delivered at a panel discussion on “The Future of U.S. Manufacturing and Opportunities in Los Angeles” moderated by American Apparel & Footwear Association chief executive officer Kevin Burke at the L.A. Chamber of Commerce last week.
The panel included several participants with manufacturing assets in Southern California, including Marty Bailey, chief manufacturing officer of American Apparel Inc., and Deborah Greaves, secretary and general counsel of True Religion Apparel Inc. They were joined by Ilse Metchek, president of the California Fashion Association; Tracy Gray, senior adviser to former L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; Carlos Valderama, senior vice president of global initiatives for the L.A. Chamber of Commerce, and André Raghu, chief strategy officer of Tradegood.
The vulnerability of L.A.-based companies was dramatized in April when the European Union boosted the tariff on U.S.-made denim to 38 percent from 12 percent. True Religion was forced to move production of a portion of its women’s product outside of L.A. and the U.S. in response.
“The orders for these particular goods were placed some time ago at certain prices, and in order to meet those prices for sales in Europe, there was no way that we could ship from Los Angeles. So already jobs have been lost,” she said. “It’s distressing.”
Metchek added, “It’s not just women’s denim, all areas of production are affected. Profits will go up, but jobs are lost. What suffers is the ‘Made in USA’ values.”
In addition to the tariff, manufacturers expressed concern about the extensive regulations in California, from the state’s Proposition 65 — a statute regulating toxic chemicals which Gov. Jerry Brown has vowed to reform — to the requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act. The full force of state and federal regulations can make goods produced in California up to 20 percent more expensive than merchandise produced elsewhere.
“Our industry needs exceptions,” said Greaves. “Year after year more regulations on the state and federal level occur, and it doesn’t seem to align with this whole government initiative of keeping manufacturing in American and Los Angeles.”
American Apparel’s Bailey encouraged the audience to use these burdens to increase efficiency. “We should take a hard look at why we do things this way,” he said. “Look at every aspect of the pipeline in order to improve our costs. In many situations, challenges like increased tariffs can turn into blessings.”
Raghu said the growing pains are a necessary part of the transformation of the U.S. into an export economy. “This has a lot to do with the rebalancing of the global economy. As China is moving faster toward a consumption economy it’s changing things everywhere. We have an opportunity to look at things we thought were blips on the radar but are really critical. As an industry, we have to accept the things that we haven’t done.”
Tradegood works to facilitate U.S. manufacturing, and Raghu believes it is primed for a resurgence. “There is an understanding even by offshore players that there is value in re-shoring,” he said. “Is it really that beneficial to go offshore when you consider the rising wages in China and the huge supply chain? A change won’t happen immediately, but the jobs that should be here will come back.”
Where will Made in USA product stand in five years? Burke said it was critical for American companies to expand outside of traditional markets, and remained hopeful that trade restrictions would ease in countries like Brazil. “Their protectionist regulations will begin to work against them. Their manufacturing base will drop, and they’ll find themselves where the U.S. did 30 years ago,” he said.
Metchek also believed that marketing is critical. “As an industry we’ve done a lousy job marketing the value in ‘Made in USA.’ Youths don’t look at a clothing label to see where it’s made. But look at the Apple ad that says ‘Designed by Apple in California.’ Obviously there is value added to something coming from the United States.”
The panel was organized by the L.A. Mayor’s office, the Los Angeles Regional Export Council and Tradegood.
“What he has done at Vuitton is really exceptional,” said @gameofthrones’ actress Gwendoline Christie on @mrkimjones’ final show for @louisvuitton. “He has rebooted luxury in terms of making it commercial, viable and contemporary. And most importantly artistic. He has never compromised his artistic vision for the sake of commodity.” (📷: @zefashioninsider)
After seeing a demand for men’s wear from its customers, British contemporary women’s wear label @ariesarise has added a men’s wear component and will launch a unisex collection with @mrporterlive. The 20-piece collection includes jackets, denim, logo T-shirts and more with deconstructed ‘90s vibes. Set to launch on January 18, you can shop the pieces on Aries’ website and on mrporter.com. #wwdfashion
“And so spending so much time with a character who thinks like that, inevitability you try and analyze yourself and go back and think about your own demons and dark chapters that you had in your life,” says @thedanielbruhl of his role in TNT’s “The Alienist.” The show, set in the Gilded Age of New York, also stars Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans. Head to WWD.com to read about how 39-year-old Brühl prepared for the role and why he thinks the show is so relevant to today #wwdeye ( 📷: @Eriktanner)
Now that Celine Dion’s collection has topped $10 million in sales, the pop superstar, fashion icon and newly-minted industry player is eyeing growth in Asia. Read the full report by @tiffanyap, link in bio. #wwdnews #celinedion
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
Among the familiar faces at @off____white’s show was a surprise figure: Japanese artist @takashipom, pictured here on Wednesday morning. Other show-goers included @jerrylorenzo, who spoke about his upcoming project: a @nike collaboration for back to school, with designs inspired by his childhood on the West Coast. Sitting in the front row were Future, Don Crawley, @miguel and more. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: Stephane Feugere)
According to @laurentsai, former “Terrace House: Aloha State” cast member, she didn’t know she was auditioning for the Japanese version of “Real World.” “I was telling a couple of my friends and someone’s like, ‘That sounds a lot like Terrace House.’ I was like, ’No it can’t be.’” Turns out, it was. But Tsai isn’t just a reality star — she’s an illustrator who has worked with Starbucks Japan and most recently, she’s dipping her toes into the fashion world. Head to WWD.com to read about her time on the show, modeling and her art. #wwdeye (📷: @danieldorsa)
More changes are coming to New York Fashion Week: Beginning with the spring 2019 collection, @alexanderwangny will move his New York show to June from September, adopting a biannual schedule with collections shown in June and December. Additionally, the @cfda is planning for an official summer/winter fashion season taking place as soon as June and December 2018. Read more about the upcoming changes on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @slovekinpics)