BANGKOK — Industry executives hope that a new democratic government in Thailand will focus on increasing consumer confidence and private investment, but they don't anticipate an immediate boost to apparel manufacturing.
"If our new government can gain the trust of the international community, we'll be able to export more,'' said Pattana Sudhirakuljai, executive director of the Thai Garment Manufacturers Association.
The People's Power Party emerged victorious in the Dec. 23 elections with 233 seats in Thailand's 450-seat parliament. Led by Samak Sundaravej, a close ally of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the party is negotiating with other political groups to form a coalition government. Sundaravej is expected to be the next prime minister, and has said he will pardon Shinawatra, who has been living in exile since being ousted in a military coup in 2006 and is facing corruption charges.
Shinawatra, who made his fortune in the cellular telephone industry, was never focused on stimulating the apparel industry, Sudhirakuljai said.
"He was only interested in the technology sector," he said. "We are unhappy that his government ignored our sector."
Somphol Manarangsan, a political economist at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University, said Thailand's export sector is likely to suffer this year because of lagging economic conditions in the U.S., Europe, Japan and China. Although Thailand's exports grew 17 percent last year, Sudhirakuljai said he doesn't foresee them gaining more than 12 percent in 2008.
Dej Pathanasethpong, president of the Thai Garment Makers Association, said in an e-mail that he forecasts the garment-making industry to grow about 10 percent this year, partly because the new government will restore business confidence and domestic consumption will increase. He also noted that companies that survived 2007 are "strong with potential."
Apparel exports from Thailand have been hurt by the strength of its currency, the baht, which reached a 10-year high last year, and lower prices from nearby countries, including China and Vietnam, Sudhirakuljai said.
"Vietnam doesn't hurt us with quality, but they have cheaper price points," he said. "Buyers are balking about the price. No one is happy with prices. Everyone has capacity, but to sell, we have to have capacity and prices."The U.S. is Thailand's biggest importer of apparel. U.S. synthetic fiber garment imports from January through October rose 0.5 percent compared with the same period in 2006, according to the Thai Information and Communication Technology Center and the Customs Department. Overall, the growth rate of synthetic fiber apparel exports from Thailand dropped 2.3 percent in the same period. Exports to France, a major trading partner, dropped 11.4 percent in the nine months and shipments to the U.K. dropped 15.8 percent.
Cotton apparel exports did not fare well, either. U.S. imports in the nine months through October were 14.6 percent lower than the same period in 2006 — dropping to $612 million in value from $717 million. Imports of cotton apparel by Thailand's other major markets also fell. Japan's imports of the product category declined 16.6 percent, Germany's imports fell 9.5 percent and the U.K.'s slid 5.4 percent. The overall growth rate of cotton apparel exports from Thailand dropped 10.7 percent in the period.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty