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Buoyed by rising costs in China, political attention from the Obama administration and new interest from businesses and consumers, the Made in America cachet is claiming a larger mantle at MAGIC this year.
This story first appeared in the August 14, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Joining forces once again this year, the Sourcing at MAGIC show and the U.S. Department of Commerce have dedicated more space and an even bigger focus to Made in USA at the second installment of the Sourcing in the Americas pavilion and summit at the show, which will run Aug. 20 to 23 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The Americas pavilion will feature 10,000 square feet of exhibitor space, up 23 percent over last year, and showcase more than 80 companies, including 40 U.S. textile firms and several from Central and South America and Mexico.
It is nestled within MAGIC’s sourcing show, which will encompass more than 1,000 exhibitors from 43 countries over 145,000 square feet at the Las Vegas Convention Center’s South Hall.
For the first time ever, the Americas pavilion, which made its debut last year, will feature a Made in Los Angeles pavilion.
The pavilion will showcase 11 Los Angeles-based companies among the total of 40 U.S. firms in the Made in USA pavilion. First-time exhibitors in the pavilion will include Fall River, Mass.-based New England Shirt Co.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is set to promote the effort to stimulate manufacturing in the City of Angels at an Aug. 20 seminar titled “Made in the U.S.A.: Options and Strategies for Sourcing Apparel and Home Furnishings,” where he will be joined by Francisco Sánchez, undersecretary for international trade at the Commerce Department, and executives from Nanette Lepore, Brooks Brothers, New Balance and Karen Kane.
“Building on the huge success we had last year, we felt it critical to return with another Americas pavilion and summit to highlight Made in America products,” said Sánchez. “As the largest textile and apparel event of its kind, this forum provides American businesses with a unique opportunity to highlight Made in America products to a global audience.”
Interest in manufacturing and sourcing in the U.S. has plenty of momentum behind it, said Karalynn Sprouse, vice president of Sourcing at MAGIC.
“Look at what’s going on in Washington in Obama’s cabinet to even what’s happening in the Olympics with Ralph Lauren and our best retailers asking for Made in USA,” she said. “It’s certainly a trend that’s here to stay.”
The trend stems from a complex set of issues affecting the global supply chain, ranging from the global economic slowdown to rising labor costs in China, which have persuaded many U.S. brands and retailers to take a fresh look at sourcing apparel closer to home and in the U.S.
“The fashion supply chain has become as important to the consumer and industry as design,” said Tom Florio, chief executive officer of Advanstar Fashion Group. “Where and how products are made affects jobs, impacts the environment and influences the perception of a brand.”
Based on U.S. export numbers, U.S. producers appear to have gained from a shift in production in the fashion supply chain to the Western Hemisphere and the U.S.
For the year ended May 31, U.S. exports of textiles and apparel to the world rose 7.5 percent to $22.6 billion compared with the prior-year period, according to Kim Glas, deputy assistant secretary of textiles at the Commerce Department. U.S. textile and apparel exports to the Western Hemisphere rose 8.6 percent to $15 billion in the same period.
“This year, there is more of a laser focus on trying to get Made in USA companies to participate….But again, we will still have a very strong presence from our Central and South American trade partners,” said Glas. “We certainly do make products for export but we are also trying to encourage our domestic buyers to buy products made in America.…I think the [reception of the pavilion and summit] has been overwhelmingly positive. We have been getting a lot of phone calls and e-mails to our office all year long from brands and retailers looking for sourcing finished apparel here in the USA.”
She said that many buyers have indicated to her they are interested in talking one-on-one with companies at the show to “hear what opportunities they are offering to source closer to home.”
MAGIC is planning other seminars to enlighten attendees about the intricacies of manufacturing and trading in the Americas region. On Aug. 20, the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel will lead a panel with representatives from J.C. Penney Co. Inc., Oxford Industries Inc.’s Lanier Clothes unit and ProNicaragua to address sourcing in the Americas. Glas will also participate in that discussion.
On Aug. 21, Gail Strickler, assistant U.S. Trade Representative for textiles, along with representatives from Customs and Border Protection, will explain how to benefit from free trade agreements and duty-free programs.