Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s second U.S. manufacturing summit in Denver on Thursday was filled with speeches from top company executives, feel-good videos of factory workers and testimonials from Wal-Mart suppliers, who spoke about their success with the retailer.
American government officials were also in attendance. Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator of the Small Business Administration, said, “There’s a renaissance in small manufacturing [in the U.S.]. Last year, more than 1,300 manufacturing companies opened their doors in the U.S. Small businesses account for 45 percent of all manufacturing jobs, or five million jobs.”
“Ultimately, this business is about people,” said Doug McMillon, president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. “We’re both committed and excited about the U.S. manufacturing initiative.”
Wal-Mart provided a free educational series at the summit on topics such as contract manufacturing, economics on a broad scale, robotics and automation, and the energy advantage, with specific details around the fundamentals of energy costs.
“Over the last 18 months, suppliers have told Wal-Mart that their biggest obstacle is finding component parts” that are made in America, said Michelle Gloeckler, executive vice president of consumables and U.S. manufacturing. Factories with capacity and flexibility displayed their parts at 87 trade show-style booths.
“We believe suppliers will see how competitive the U.S. is on component parts,” Gloeckler said. “Some factories make us finished goods and can run component parts for other uses. The hope is that they can become contract manufacturers for Wal-Mart suppliers looking to produce in the U.S. We think it will rejuvenate the supply chain.”
“We’re finding new and innovative products we don’t sell today,” said Duncan MacNaughton, chief merchandising officer. “Some suppliers have re-shored and others are expanding their businesses here in America.” Wal-Mart is also looking at longer-term relationships that are more strategic “so we can make investments together,” he said.
“Things happen at Wal-Mart meetings,” said Gloeckler. “In March 2013, Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina attended the summit with the hope of convincing suppliers to come to her state.” Cut to a live feed of Haley at the new Element Electronics production plant, which brought 325 jobs to Winnsboro, S.C.
The winners of the Wal-Mart U.S. $10 million innovation fund, sponsored by the retailer, the Wal-Mart Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, were revealed at the summit. Seven leading research and development institutions were awarded a total of $4 million in grants. The work was concerned with textile manufacturing, cotton breeding, automated production of sewn goods, novel alternative mold fabricating and a system for small motor subsystems. “Wal-Mart made it possible for us to undertake a project that could transform the denim manufacturing sector in this country,” said one of the recipients.
Neil Ashe, president and ceo of global e-commerce, said Wal-Mart’s Made in USA microsite isolates domestic-made products and allows suppliers to bring items online as quickly as possible. “We streamlined the effort, so you can get your product up on the Web site in less than a week,” Ashe said. “We started with 500 items. Now we have over 15,000 items.”
@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