Bravo CFDA on today’s article on the impact of a possible immigration policy on fashion…

CFDA & FWD.US: DESIGNING AN IMMIGRATION SYSTEM THAT WORKS 
04 10 17  by: MARC KARIMZADEH 

The innovation economy, industry growth, opportunities for international designers and investors in the U.S., and American jobs – just some key issues that will determine the future of American fashion.

On Monday morning, CFDA’s Chairwoman Diane von Furstenberg and President and CEO Steven Kolb, FWD.us President Todd Schulte, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, and New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito gathered at the CFDA {Fashion Incubator} to proudly unveil a joint CFDA and FWD.us report.

The report addresses the impact of immigration policy on the United States’ fashion industry, its role in creating American jobs, and changes needed to bolster the future health of the industry. Read the full report here.

Von Furstenberg recalled leaving Europe and arriving in New York with a suitcase full of little dresses. “Young people from all over the world come to America in search of those same opportunities, and young people with limitless talent and potential will continue building and innovating in our industry as long as we put in place immigration policies that allow the U.S. to remain a magnet for them,” she said.

The press conference was attended by several designers, among them Phillip Lim, Robert Geller, Maria Cornejo, Waris Ahluwalia, Sachin Ahluwalia, Maxwell Osborne, Dao-Yi Chow, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim.

Kolb added: “In order to continue the U.S.’ success and influence in the fashion industry, we must recruit the best talent from all over the world. If the United States wants to lead the world in fashion innovation, we need immigration policies that embrace the talented foreigners who come here to build and grow.”

The report outlines two hurdles impacting the fashion industry: access and retention of top talent, and the difficulty and high cost of navigating our badly broken immigration system. Among the recommendations, the report cites reforming and expanding the H-1B and O-1 high-skilled visas, creating a startup visa so that foreign-born entrepreneurs can build companies and create American jobs here, and establishing a process for hardworking undocumented immigrants to earn legal status after successfully passing a background check.

“We need to reform our immigration laws to protect American workers while boosting our ability to bring in the best and brightest from around the world so we can continue driving the U.S.’ global leadership in fashion and multiple other industries,” said FWD.us President Todd Schulte.

“Making it more difficult for skilled foreign workers in the fashion industry to enter the United States will make it harder for the industry to survive and will do irreparable harm our city’s economy,” said U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12).

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito underscored the report’s message that barriers for immigrants hurt the U.S. economy and weakens fashion businesses. As she put it, “It is essential to keep finding new ways to empower our immigrant communities.”

PHOTOS BY MATTEO PRANDONI/BFA.COM

Original article here:
https://www.cfda.com/news/cfda-fwd-us-designing-an-immigration-system-that-works

 

SUSTAINABLE, PROFITABLE, AND POSSIBLE

by: Andrea Kennedy

So you are thinking you want to take steps to become more sustainable. And maybe you’ve been thinking this way for awhile. So, what’s stopping you? Most often the answer is…. Cost.
Companies fear that moving to a more responsible design and production model will cost too much. They believe the customer will not pay more and they therefore will lose money. It’s really not possible, it’s thought by many, to be sustainable and profitable. Many businesses fear the expenses are too great in time and in dollars to research, initiate, and implement sustainable practices.

Photo byFabian Blank @blankerwahnsinn

Well…. yes, it certainly costs more to do things right. It costs more to pay workers fairly, to use natural or recycled fibers, and to inspect and audit factories. And, it does cost more per unit to manufacture with greener components and on the same hemisphere. But if we look away for the moment from the fact that each component and line item may cost more, and instead look at the total lowest cost, then things start to look different.
Just operating with less waste and more efficiency, which is the true essence of sustainability, will lower a company’s operating costs immediately. Efficiency and a no-waste commitment can be every company’s first step. And that costs nothing to implement! If you choose to use less energy, water and materials in your offices and supply-chain facilities, then immediately you will see usage rates decrease and will pay less in overhead costs.
This is an initiative already place at Mara Hoffman. Dana Davis, director of sustainability, notes they continuously strive to reduce energy consumption in the Mara Hoffman offices and on bright days work with the lights off and keep the windows open far into summer to consume less electricity. Lower usage bills have help offset some of the increased costs accrued in producing their responsible collection. This is something we all can do!
In terms of raw materials, with consumer environmental concern on the increase, and the waste of the fashion industry receiving so much media focus, it’s never been a better time to introduce responsibly-produced fibers, fabrics and trims. Organic, recycled, and low-impact fabric may cost on average 30-40% more per yard, but if you find innovative ways to use all leftover fabric scraps, you can balance the additional costs. For instance, companies can print on leftover fabric scrap squares and use as hangtags, then there is no longer a need to purchase cardstock tags. And utilizing all excess fabric and trim means less waste entering our factory-area landfills.
Companies can also cut all non-value adding (and wasteful) components from their practices and their cost sheets. Non-biodegradable items such as poly bags for buttons or individually plastic sleeves for garments can be omitted. In forcing themselves to commit to sustainability, companies are forced to think in more innovative ways, and although at first uncomfortable, innovation always leads us to more operating efficiency and cost-cutting practices.
Increased costs up front for using sustainable and responsible materials and production practices can save companies money in the long run, as customers are taking notice and staying loyal to green and sustainable companies. More and more businesses are showing positive financial performance, despite the increase in costs, due to an increase in sales. This growth in sales certainly balances the increase in cost of goods sold, especially if your overhead is lower due to decreased resource utilization, less waste and tax incentives.
Yes, tax incentives are another perk of sustainable business practices. State and local tax-breaks for businesses supporting environmental and human wellbeing initiatives are increasing every year, as well there are federal tax credits offered to US businesses for being energy-efficient.
A focus on sustainability equates to a competitive advantage like no other for those willing to go that extra mile to deliver responsible products. If you concentrate on the full value cost and not individual line-item costs, you will see that you can still be profitable while being sustainable. It may take a while, but if you are still doing business in the manner you have for the last ten-to-twenty years, then it is time for a change. As 66% of customers state that when given the choice they will select and pay more for sustainably-produced products manufactured by companies committed to positive social and environmental impact (Neilsens, 2016). And when surveyed this year in January, 78% of US consumers stated they “feel better” when they buy sustainably-produced products.  If you become a brand that is part of making a difference and no longer part of the problem, you will stand out to customers who are looking for products produced by companies that mirror their own concerns at this very moment in time. This will increase your sales, show in your bottom line, and create customer relationships for the long-term.
So you are thinking you want to take steps to become more sustainable. Don’t let costs stop you. The benefits of customers knowing you care and the advantage of customers thinking you are part of the solution, should help you realize that it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to practice sustainability, and that any additional monies spent to develop and produce your products are certainly worth eliminating waste and treating people and our planet with respect. These actions in turn build brand-respect, create greater perceptions of quality and value to your products… and will bring you business!Thank you Fashion Mannuscipt for publishing this article in Fashion Mannuscript, April 2017 edition

Trends for Success in Tomorrow’s Fashion Market

Written/Researched by: Andrea Kennedy. Edited by: Katie Marcus

Politically, everything is uncertain right now. But that’s nothing new for the ever-changing fashion industry, where trends, fabrics, technologies, and marketing tactics are constantly subject to major shifts. Fashion just doesn’t stand still, and as it works to accommodate consumers, our businesses should too. Therefore, to stay on top in the fashion industry, it’s crucial to be aware of the directions we are moving and to consider how to better plan, develop, source, produce, market and distribute to future markets.

With our fingers crossed for no dollars lost let’s move forward and react quickly, thoughtfully and right ahead of the trends.

Here are seven ways the world, consumers, technology and industry are shaking things up for fashion. We must consider what our businesses need to embrace and execute in order to stay relevant and profitable in tomorrow’s market. The seven trends are:

1- Peer Groups and Purchasing.

Generational marketing is more important than ever as we consider the three key cohort groups:

First, BabyBoomers. They are preparing to retire, taking on hobbies and vacationing more. What they purchase for the last third of their lives will not be on impulse and must be of value. They have money to spend, but do not require more belongings. They are streamlining what they own, downsizing their homes. We must work hard to capture what they buy and concentrate on value!

Second, Millennials, with their signature innovate and entrepreneurial spirit. They are grown up and becoming homeowners, who will soon begin saving for future families, which means less room for risk. We must stay innovative to keep them as loyal clientele.

Thirdly, Generation Z (also known as i-Gen). Having now entered college, this group continues to Instagram, Snapchat, and Lyft first, while shopping last. They are about showing the world where they’re at, not just what they have. They see their millennial siblings in debt, and prefer to keep their dollars close. We must offer them excitement and value to keep their interest.

These generational cohorts will buy, but it’s on us to design, develop and manufacture products that appeal to them. We will need to implement lean manufacturing techniques for smaller, higher-quality batches. Our customers will no longer shop for the short-term, they will insist on value and longevity, or they will not purchase.

 

2- Population and the Planet.

   It’s no secret that the world population is exploding, and is set to reach the 10 billion mark by 2050. Some estimates say that by 2040, one-third of our inhabitants will be extinct and many natural resources may be too. As our resources deplete, we must be conservative in our use of water, trees, oil, coal, and natural gas. We must be innovative in our development and creation of products, and plan and build new production facilities, so that they can be self-sufficient, closed loop and carbon neutral. Change starts with each of us, and the first step is to remove the old ways of “take-make-waste” from our thinking and practices.

Simply put, we have to produce more using less resources. As consumers become more aware of this global crisis, more will seek out and pay more for products created with responsible supply chains. Expect more requests for no-impact products, like recycled post-industrial or post-consumer fibers, or products made in wind, solar, tidal or man-powered factories, produced by companies doing business responsibly from end-to-end. The sooner you begin offering these ideas, the better off your business will be as sustainability becomes a major consumer focus.

 

3- Biometrics and Bluetooth.

   Now is the time for companies to invest in technology. Fashion is no longer separate from science, so let’s develop products with technical competitive advantages.

Biometric apparel can take us there: garments can serve important functions, like measuring heart rate, pulse, temperature, oxygen, hydration levels and more. Textiles and wearables can have reactive properties within flexible fibers that heat and cool us, keep us alert, and give us directions through GPS and Web-enabled components. When polled last month, 50% of males said they would purchase apparel that monitors heart rate and charges their mobile devices. This is up 25% from the previous year. Therefore, as health centers become overcrowded with aging baby-boomers, customers will seek garments that allows them to monitor themselves. Companies entering this market early will have a competitive advantage like no other.

 

4- 3-Dimension Ascension.

3-D printing allows for speed-to-market and takes us to the next level in consumer responsiveness. Product development turnaround has never been faster than with 3-D prototyping, sure to revolutionize our productivity.

Not just factories, schools, and design studios will have 3D printers. Within 4-5 years, having a 3-D printer in the house will be as common as having an inkjet printer today. We will print our own 3-D jewelry, clothing, and shoes. We will be 3-D bodyscanned for sizing in stores and designers will dive heavily into 3-D prototyping and fittings. Online Etailers will give 3-D fashion shows and you’ll be able to see how you look in a garment by trying it on in a virtual 3-D fitting room with a look-alike avatar. 3-D technology creates less waste, and for that reason alone, now is the time for companies to embrace this digital, 3-D movement.

5- Robotic Revolution.

As 3-D uptrends, so does robotics. Automation and robotic production has entered warehouses and the textile sides of the supply chain; and it’s also slowly entering our garment factories. This colossal shift in manufacturing is driven by advancements in automation technology, but also because worldwide raw materials laborers and factory workers are demanding fair and increased wages. Although manufacturers will have a large financial output in fully-automating their processes, the investment will lead to time and money saved, as no longer will companies need to pay to train unskilled workers. In a country like US, where factory jobs are undesirable to young college-bound persons, automated facilities can keep production domestic, and save the time and costs of outsourcing. Another perk: robotic workers will keep ticking around the clock and turnaround orders in hours, as opposed to days or weeks.

Robots and automatons will become more involved in textile and garment printing, cutting, dyeing, and embellishment. Sewing will soon become automated and remotely-programmable production lines will become the norm. At a time when capabiliti\es of mass customization and small batch orders are an advantage, robotic sewing and autoated production lines will be a deal breaker.

 

6- Speed-to-“Self-Serve”-Market.

Our fast-paced customers are accustomed to speed-to-market goods, and they want quicker response times. Allowing customers to serve themselves, may be the ultimate in delivering customer satisfaction. Although it requires a complete turn-around in operations, the few stores, such as Hointer, who deliver speed-to-market without retail staff are succeeding as customers flock and return. Peopl-eless stores make sense in today’s environment of cost-cutting and bottom-line focus. I-Genners and Millennials are instagramming about self-serve retail experiences and relish not being followed by a salesperson, or dealing with unfriendly retail staff. Although it is the exact opposite of the also-trending “Farmer’s Market” model, there is room for both. And with innovation, excitement and timesaving desired, those who convert to at least partial self-serve will find many early customers who will loyally return.

 

7- The Art and Craft of Fashion.

We have been engaged in a cycle of garment styles based off pattern blocks and an over-stocked assortment of basics at retail. Stores suffer because customers have more than enough button-fronts, tees and pullovers to dress themselves for their lifetimes. S/M/L/XL sizing is everywhere and nothing fits perfectly. This has created a cycle of markdowns and chargebacks that is unsustainable. Designers and manufacturers need to consider returning to the days of multiple fittings and again give attention to beautiful fit, detail, and diverse styling details to bring back the craft of fashion as art. A return to fashion as art will be welcomed by consumers who are showing they no longer wish to purchase an array of adaptations of the same styles.

It is time for freshness, innovation and an appreciation of the human craftsperson. Although the more detailed hand-worked processes will cost more, the customers will receive and perceive uniqueness, quality, art, and longevity… all of which our industry should have never lost.

 

It’s time to take the reins and shape the future of the fashion industry. Adapt too late and you may find yourself out of business. We must become change ambassadors and inspire ourselves and those around us for success in tomorrow’s ever-changing fashion world!

 

Thank you Fashion Mannuscript, for publishing this article in your March 2017 edition!