TURKISH MAKERS AIM AT U.S.

Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg

NEW YORK — Hoping to profit from the continuing search for affordable sourcing, ITKIB Association Inc. is working to put the spotlight on Turkey.
Founded in 1992 by nine apparel manufacturers in Istanbul, the nonprofit agency, which maintains offices here, matches domestic vendors and retailers with Turkish apparel manufacturers.
The association now numbers 70 manufacturers, according to Ziya Sukun, the group’s executive director in the U.S., and next year expects to grow to 150 members.
Having “almost saturated” the European market, especially Germany, France and Holland, ITKIB has shifted its focus to the U.S., Sukun said. More than $3 billion worth of Turkish apparel will be produced for the European market by the end of the year and next year’s projections should be the same, he said.
This year, approximately $600 million will be sourced from Turkey for the U.S. market and next year more than $1 billion worth of merchandise should be produced, Sukun said.
To date, ITKIB has received 500 inquiries about sourcing in Turkey from American manufacturers, retailers and importers. After speaking with representatives from ITKIB, at least 33 percent of those American agencies are now sourcing goods from Turkey, Sukun said. Other interested parties — an additional 33 percent — that were already sourcing goods from Turkey increased their volume, he added. Companies that have done sourcing in Turkey include such diverse firms as Sears, Roebuck, Liz Claiborne, Harvé Benard and Anne Klein Co. Although not using ITKIB, Anne Klein sourced T-shirts for its A Line collection and wool fabrics for Anne Klein II, according to Sue Browning, director of research and development of fabric at the company.
Sukun noted that denim shirts, sweatshirts, basic button-down shirts and cotton T-shirts account for a lot of the goods produced in Turkey for the U.S. market, but ITKIB is looking for new resources to produce outerwear and more fashion-oriented products.
Cotton, rayon and terry cloth are key fabrics for Turkish apparel makers. Sukun said the ITKIB was developing liaisons with apparel manufacturers in Turkey that specialize in linen and other better fabrics.
“If someone is looking for something quite different, we will help them find the appropriate party to produce it,” he said. “Our service is not restricted to our members. We want to help in any way we can.”
Sukun noted that most Turkish manufacturers required minimum orders of as few as 500 dozen and did not charge premiums for quota.
While prices were comparable to the Far East or slightly higher, the turnaround time for Turkish goods was more favorable, he asserted. The Turkish market’s six-week turnaround appeals to American producers, since retailers are placing orders closer to season, he said.
About 85 percent of all Turkish goods produced for foreign markets are made by Istanbul’s 6,000 garment manufacturers. However, Izmir, Turkey’s third-largest city and its major port on the Aegean, is becoming a popular manufacturing locale, according to Sukun.
The group plans a week-long buying trip to Istanbul and Izmir for 50 American manufacturers and retailers next year. “We want to do more work with higher-priced goods, and we can,” Sukun said. “We can meet the regulations established by large companies.”
During market weeks, ITKIB invites potential customers to its offices at 1410 Broadway.

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