By  on September 14, 2010

LAS VEGAS — Foreign factories face the challenge of trying to boost business amid rising costs for supplies, energy and labor, according to executives attending Sourcing at Magic.

Apparel manufacturers, fabric producers and private label designers revealed different strategies to keep costs low while maintaining high-quality and fresh designs. The show ended its four-day run Aug. 16 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Kiran Modes, an Indian manufacturer of women’s cotton tops and dresses, increased prices by as much as 15 percent to offset surges in fabric costs and workers’ wages, but reduced its minimum amount for orders to 300 from 1,200.

Ben + Mo Studio, a Chinese design and development studio that participated at Sourcing for the first time, promoted the experience of its design director, Viola Meng, who previously worked at several New York fashion firms.

“We know a lot about the American vision and aesthetic,” said Meng, displaying an embroidered white silk organza dress. “We have a good understanding of what is trendy and chic.”

Yasmina Garments, an Egyptian manufacturer that makes button-up shirts for Guy Laroche and Banana Republic, aimed to have 10 percent of its components come from Israel so it can sell its finished goods duty free in the U.S.

Chris & Carol, a Los Angeles-based textile mill and garment manufacturer specializing in knit tops, tried to capitalize on retailers’ needs to have trend-right clothing shipped quickly to market. The company said it can produce draped rayon cardigans and other garments in a day if a fabric is in stock. If it has to spin the yarn, the maximum length of time for production would be two weeks.

Acknowledging that fashion is a service industry founded on relationships, vendors tried to work with clients in producing designs on a tight budget. Kiran Modes said it would encourage clients to simplify designs while Ben + Mo Studio would substitute polyester for silk that costs twice as much.

Manufacturers and textile companies were concerned about the rising cost of supplies, particularly cotton, which has increased as much as 40 percent in the last year. Taiwan’s Triad International absorbed some of the increases while raising the prices for its knit fabrics, said Oliver Lin, Triad’s general manager.

To hold prices steady, Thea Inc., a maker of women’s loungewear and intimates in the Philippines, said it stocks a six-month supply of white cotton fabric in its factory.

J. Deco, a South Korean producer of lace with 15 employees, said it had no choice but to pass the price increases onto their customers. “Otherwise, we lose money,” said J. Deco president Jay Yang.

Exhibiting at Sourcing for the first time, Yang said the company’s goal is to find more American customers. “We need to grow our buying power [for materials],” he said.

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