NEW YORK — The contractors at last month’s WorldSource Show were diverse in culture and manufacturing capacity.
They offered production from pajamas and T-shirts to blouses and suits, representing 60 factories in more than 25 countries, from Thailand and Uganda to Russia and Italy.
The trade show, which ended its three-day run held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on Oct. 23, is organized by the National Association of Men’s Sportswear Buyers and overlapped with the New York Menswear Show, another fair organized by NSI, a division of NAMSB. It was the second edition of WorldSource.
Stephen Maire, who is director of Bangkok-based sleepwear manufacturing company Aragon Limited, said he noticed that buyers responded to his company pending certification from Worldwide Responsible Apparel Production. The WRAP factory certification program was established in 1999 by the American Apparel Manufacturers Association to fight sweatshops. The AAMA has since merged to become the American Apparel & Footwear Association.
Maire, who is a U.S. citizen, said he felt some of the exhibitors at WorldSource were at a disadvantage because they were more familiar with brand names such as Tommy Hilfiger and Liz Claiborne, rather than some of the large private label manufacturers, for example.
However, sourcing consultants were on hand to aid the communication process that is sometimes slowed by cultural differences and language barriers. One such agent was Jeanne Atkinson, who represented garment manufacturers from Uganda and Jordan through New York-based consulting firm Global Marketing Strategies.
Jinja, Uganda-based Sigma Knitting Industries Ltd. specializes in uniforms and basic apparel items such as T-shirts and sweatshirts, according to managing director Anant Parmar. Uganda is one of the few countries receiving preferential trade benefits under the African Growth & Opportunity Act that has the capability to make its own fabrics, Parmar added.
Geoffrey Onegi-Obel, who is senior AGOA and trade adviser to the president of Uganda, said there is no better way to get a country back on its feet than through trade. He said Uganda is looking to build its commercial sector using marketing that is similar to a clothing brand.
"When you see a label that says ‘Made in Uganda’, we want you to know it comes from a stable country with a clean environment," Onegi-Obel said.Being at WorldSource is a way to get Uganda’s foot in the door of the U.S. manufacturing market, Onegi-Obel said. He also said Uganda would like to be considered a competitive sourcing destination from U.S. companies by the time quotas are lifted in 2005.
Jack Herschlag, who is the director of WorldSource and executive director of NAMSB, said exhibitors started cancelling their plans to attend the show after running into problems securing visas from the U.S. government. He said contractors from Egypt, Pakistan and Bangladesh were among those denied entry.
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