Running the largest apparel technology company in the world gives Lectra chief executive officer Daniel Harari a perspective on globalization and automation that few can match. This year was one of the most important in the $317 million company's existence. Lectra replaced all its major hardware and software with a new generation of tools, including smart cutters that know their own history and can be programmed remotely, 3-D software for fitting, product life cycle management software that integrates Lectra's other offerings, and design software that makes the company's U4ia (a de facto industry standard) obsolete. During a visit to Lectra's New York office, Harari spoke with WWD about apparel technology, globalization and fast fashion.
WWD: How has this year been for Lectra? Daniel Harari: Orders for new cutters are up 38 percent in six months. Our expectations were that they would be down 20 percent. Total orders were up 15 percent in the first six months of the year. Orders for new systems are up 16 percent. But we could not deliver everything. We had a significant backlog at end of September.
WWD: What percent of your business is in China and India?
D.H.: Roughly 60 percent is in Europe, 20 percent in the Americas and 20 percent in Asia...by revenue. In China we have more customers who want to establish their own brands and have their own design team and put more importance on pattern making, so we are selling more high-end design software there. India is five years behind. In India, people are very price sensitive. We have 80 percent to 100 percent of the luxury goods market, all the brand names from Chanel to Prada to Gucci. In France and Italy, our market share is close to 100 percent of this segment. The more sophisticated the product, the more we are in this market. The higher the quality [of the product], the better the savings [with our technology].
WWD: But the U.S. has no factories.
D.H.: This is what is said in the press. It is not true. After the WTO, the change was 4 percent in the States and 8 percent in Europe. What happened was that developing countries lost market share to China because China is more efficient. India is gaining market share. Other countries are losing it. Western Europe and the States did not change so much. Lobbyists make a lot of noise in the press but the reality is there are still lots of clothes manufacturers in the U.S. and Europe. What has gone was gone many years ago. For us, technology is cutting and design but not sewing. For us, the cutting factory does not change. Maybe sewing is moving to the Caribbean.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast