WASHINGTON — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is determined to give a boost to apparel and textile production in America.
In town for the Commerce Department’s SelectUSA summer conference, Michelle Gloeckler, Wal-Mart’s senior vice president of home and the executive leading the U.S. manufacturing initiative, told WWD that fostering more apparel and textile production is key for the retail giant’s Made in America initiative. For the first time, Wal-Mart will try to connect manufacturers and suppliers — including apparel, textiles and home goods — with component parts makers at its second Manufacturing Summit in Denver Aug. 14 and 15, Gloeckler said.
At the same time, the retailer is stepping up its civic-minded role — cutting through red tape and knocking down obstacles to U.S. production — in its bid to invest $250 billion cumulatively in Made in America products over 10 years. Gloeckler said the retail giant is 18 months into its program and is on track to achieve its total investment commitment.
“We’ve been at this for 18 months and [chief executive officers] tell us that [among] the main obstacles to searching in the U.S. for a [factory] site is that it takes a lot of energy and navigation to go state by state because every state has different department leads on this,” Gloeckler said. “It can be very complicated and take a lot of time. Suppliers told us that our meeting last August,” cohosted with the National Retail Federation and bringing together 1,500 suppliers, governors, retailers and business leaders in Orlando, Fla., “helped them accelerate their timelines in finding new sites because we facilitated those meetings. They could see six state officials in one day, for example.”
At this year’s summit, the company is taking the networking concept a step further. It plans to hold an essential trade fair that brings together suppliers and components makers, she said.
“Wal-Mart does not make anything,” Gloeckler said. “Our goal is to facilitate and accelerate. Because we have relationships, through government relations and our stores and distribution centers, we can help them navigate in this arena and we can also reach out to mayors, congressmen, senators and governors and ask them to name the factories in their districts that have capacity and flexibility and can make component parts for suppliers who want to buy them here.”
She pointed to a list of raw materials categories and companies that will be represented at the Wal-Mart summit in August. Organized in trade-show booths, several U.S. textile companies, ranging from spinning, weaving, knitting, dyeing and cut-and-sew operations, will be on hand to connect with apparel and home goods manufacturers.
Separately, on July 8, the company will host an “open call” in Bentonville, Ark., where the retailer has already registered 700 suppliers to pitch their finished products to about 200 Wal-Mart U.S., Sam’s Club and walmart.com buyers, she noted.
Gloeckler said 26 percent of the 700 registrants are from the “softlines” category, which includes apparel and home products. Another 30 percent are from the general merchandise sector and the remainder come from foods, consumables and goods not for resale.
In addition to the appointments with buyers, the suppliers will have an opportunity to sign up for educational break-out sessions, ranging from such topics as sustainability, financing, women-owned businesses, women economic empowerment, product compliance, labeling and packaging.
In a separate initiative, Wal-Mart has narrowed the field of manufacturing innovation grants it plans to give down to 20 finalists out of a pool of more than 75 applicants, Gloeckler said. The grants are part of the Wal-Mart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund, which will give $10 million over five years in the form of grants to nonprofit organizations and universities. The first year of the initiative is focused on innovation in textile manufacturing and common manufacturing processes in the broader consumer goods area.
“The overall objective of the fund is to help accelerate progress in areas that have been obstacles to companies,” Gloeckler said. “A couple of key obstacles that people have told us about are around automated cut-and-sew and the regulations around the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency], such as the disposal of dyes.”
She noted that the fund and allocated grants are not aimed at changing policy or regulations, but instead are focused on institutions developing innovative, cost-effective and sustainable technologies to make manufacturing more competitive in the U.S. in a broad array of products.
Asked if U.S. apparel and textile manufacturing will continue to grow and take hold, Gloeckler said: “With the appropriate amount of innovation and automation, it will become very compelling to evaluate making apparel, textile and shoes in the U.S.”
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews