NEW YORK — Textile firms preparing for the International Fashion Fabric Exhibition next week are trying to cope with intensifying competition from abroad and retail consolidation at home.
These pressures have made for tough choices for smaller textiles firms, which make up much of IFFE’s exhibitor base. Some have decided to stay in tight market sectors, such as making goods for the shrinking base of domestic manufacturers, while others are aligning themselves internationally.
Melissa Gibbs, president of M&M Industries Inc., based here, said domestic manufacturers are “dying by the droves....Because we’ve had to diversify more from the domestic end of the business, we’ve made an alliance with a mill in China, and we’ve been doing a lot of corduroy and cotton fabrics from them.”
The alliance has allowed M&M to approach larger manufacturers and trade in completed garments, as well as just fabrics. The move was forced by the continuing consolidation at retail, such as the merger of Sears and Kmart, and the Federated Department Stores planned acquisition of the May Department Stores Co.
“These big chains, they keep consolidating and they keep getting bigger, and they keep demanding more from the manufacturer,” she said.
On the other end of the supply chain, the quotas that restricted global trade in apparel and textiles for decades among nations of the World Trade Organization were eliminated Jan. 1, creating an onslaught of merchandise from China and bringing sweeping change to textile and apparel sourcing, even if temporary safeguard restraints are placed on Chinese imports.
“We’re buying a lot of goods overseas,” said Bernie Gardner, chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based Impala Industries. “We buy a lot of fabric from [South] Korea, Taiwan and now from China.”
Impala sells a range of fabrics, including cotton and rayon.
“I really held back on major purchases of Chinese goods because there have been some horrendous problems at the docks,” Gardner said.
Even while getting some lower-priced materials from China, Impala has kept its focus on start-up apparel companies, many of which make smaller orders.
“There’s always some new innovative [manufacturer] coming up and they come to us because we’re not going to stick them with a 5,000-yard minimum,” Gardner said. “Our life’s blood is new customers.”
“I see things on the hanger and I’m, like, ‘I never knew that color worked on me.’ It’s things you necessarily wouldn’t choose to wear, but once you put them on, you see why Janie is who Janie is." — Lily Collins on working with former "Mad Men" costume designer, Janie Bryant on creating looks for her role as Celia Brady's in Amazon series, "The Last Tycoon." 📸@jilliansollazzo #wwdeye
EXCLUSIVE: Sarah Rutson has been tapped to Build New American Fashion Group. The parent of Joie, Equipment and Current/Elliott hired the merchant to rev up its brands and expand its portfolio into designer, beauty and lifestyle categories. Read more on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion
Michael Kors' $1.3B Jimmy Choo deal has the company squaring off with Coach Inc. as both seek to build American powerhouses. Coach bought Stuart Weitzman in 2015 and Kate Spade just two weeks ago, but Michael Kors' acquisition may be putting pressure on its rival in the new push for scale. #wwdnews (📷: George Chinsee)
Meet actress Lucy Boynton, who plays opposite Naomi Watts in the recently released Netflix series "Gypsy." Boynton stopped by WWD to talk about her upcoming projects and her nomadic lifestyle. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)