PARIS — The Sourcing Connection, by Première Vision, a three-day salon that promotes Asia-Pacific-based manufacturers among fashion brands and retailers, touted “hassle-free” sourcing capabilities and speed-to-market at its latest edition.

The Sourcing Connection, which wrapped on Sept. 14, offered visitors an audited selection of 55 factories it believes are able to deliver volume and competitive lead times. For the first time the salon was held concurrently with the Première Vision Paris show.

With fashion cycles ever faster, yet retail still in decline in Europe, the show’s second edition was billed as a short-cut to the right supply chain. “Buyers aren’t looking for a geographical region, but for smart suppliers,” said Dyhana Van der Pols, a consultant for Sourcing Connection.

The show’s watchword was “relationship.”

“Price is the third criteria,” said Miguel Garcia, head of sourcing for Desigual, who scouted two new suppliers for the Spanish brand. “I’m looking for quality. We look for a long-term relationship with our suppliers and fewer suppliers than more.”

Of the show, he said: “It’s small but it’s a good solution if you’re looking for something special, of quality because they’ve gone through the first filter. It’s one step less that you have to do.”

Deepa Hingorani, sourcing and product director at Copenhagen-based fashion label Day Birger et Mikkelsen, said the show’s supplier edit was a help. “There really are thousands and thousands of suppliers out there. It’s a full-time occupation just to filter. It helps a lot if the audit has already been taken care of.”

The Sourcing Connection partnered with auditing experts Bureau Veritas to check potential factories on an independent basis, with criteria including everything from contamination risks to a manufacturer’s broken-needles record. To be admitted, exhibitors required a 65 percent compliance rating or above.

“Nobody wants their product to be produced under the wrong social or environmental conditions,” said Van der Pols.

“In some cases we received great product, but when we saw the result of the audit, it was 50, 40, 35 percent compliant; it was surprising,” said Chantal Malingrey, marketing and development director at Première Vision.

With a target of 150 to 200 audited exhibitors within the next two years, The Sourcing Connection plans to scout manufacturers from India, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Bangladesh, all countries whose European clothing exports are growing rapidly.

“We’re seeing a rebalancing across the zone, even if China remains, of course, way in front,” Première Vision chief executive officer Philippe Pasquet told the conference.

Malingrey added: “We want to continue to identify those companies who are investing in [corporate social responsibility] and fashion.”

With compliance assured, minimums and lead times topped the buying agenda. “Our main concerns are minimums; some of them are too high,” said Liz Jackson, production manager at Emily and Finn, who found two potential suppliers for the British label’s vintage-inspired collections.

Manufacturers talked about some of the challenges they are facing.

“More and more customers want to reduce their quantities but increase their styles,” said Anson Xie, general manager at Jiaxing Qijia, a Zhejiang, China, manufacturer whose collection of print dresses and separates was well-received.

“Generally speaking, it’s better than last year. We’ve seen some good-quality, midmarket customers,” Xie said. “It’s better to be selective, not everyone can show here.”

There were also calls to move the fair closer to Première Vision’s main event, due to its size, north Paris venue, and a record-breaking heat wave that slowed traffic at the exhibition. “Heat is one thing but when there’s no [customer] traffic it just doesn’t make sense,” said first-time exhibitor Vidiya Amrit Khan, director of Desh Garments, based in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

 

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