The apparel and textile business blog from Leonie Barrie
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Global denim and jeanswear market review
10 Mar 2004 17:38
It’s harder and harder these days to come up with something that’s new and, dare I say it, unique. But we think we’ve done it with our first in-depth report – a Global market review for the denim and jeanswear industries with forecasts to 2010 – which for the first time takes a truly international look at the sector across the whole of its supply chain.
I was up late last night proofing it for the final time, and I’d really like to congratulate the author, Malcolm Newbery, and everyone who gave up their time to speak with him, including Jeff Beckman and Alexandra Leclerc from Levi Strauss; Terry Lay, VP and chairman of the international jeanswear division, VF Corp, and Tim Wheeler, VP of jeanswear Europe, VF Corp; David Smith, MD of jeanswear licensing, VF Asia; Tom Ting, VF China; Tom McKenna, executive vice president, denim merchandising and marketing, Cone Mills, USA; Richard Parsons, representative for Burlington in UK; Darshan Matha, Arvind Mills, India; and Rajiv Bajaj, Raymond, India. It’s such a long list because we’re really indebted to all these executives for taking time out to share their thoughts with us, and in several cases even reveal facts and figures that aren’t usually in the public domain.
So what do we learn from the report? Well for starters, it calculates that world volume growth will be 4.8%, delivering 2024 million pairs of jeans by 2010. The traditional brands are being attacked on every front: from low priced retailers, high priced ‘must-have’ brands, and the movement of denim weaving away from traditional suppliers. And while the jeanswear market in the developed world is stable, the supply side - fabric and sewing – is more volatile with the relocation of production to the lowest cost countries of the world. Looking ahead, future growth can be expected from the developing world which has both a rising population and more money to spend on jeans. So the message to denim and jeanswear companies has to be: act globally, don’t just talk globally.
Tom Ford’s final bow
08 Mar 2004 17:57
Tom Ford last night presented his final collection for the Gucci-owned Yves Saint Laurent, ending a nine-year reign that has seen his stratospheric rise from unknown to the most sought-after man in fashion. Love him or loathe him, there’s no denying his impact on Gucci and YSL and the luxury sector as a whole. PPR’s likely decision to replace Ford with a team of anonymous designers might have been fuelled by the question of which comes first, the designer or the brand, but it could mark the start of a sea change away from star names at the helm. Either way, Ford will be a hard act to follow, and although he hasn’t said much about his plans from here the smart money says he’ll find it hard to stay away from fashion’s frontline.
Fashion on the frontline
05 Mar 2004 12:26
An Israeli fashion company’s decision to launch its summer catalogue with a procession beside Israel's controversial West Bank barrier has been courting an equal amount of controversy of its own. Should the barrier which, with its network of walls, wire and ditches, has become a life and death issue for both sides, be used as a publicity stunt for something as ultimately frivolous as fashion – or is there a genuine message to convey?
As models paraded Comme-il-faut’s colourful summer clothes in front of the eight-metre high concrete slabs that separate parts of Jerusalem from the West Bank, the company said the event contrasted beauty, femininity and fashion with a "concrete wall of insult, ugliness and humiliation.” And in an age when we’re all bombarded by thousands of images a day, shock tactics such as this really do seem to work.
Of course it’s not the first time a fashion brand has tried to provoke a response or raise awareness of other issues. Just think back to Benetton’s controversial advertising campaigns that included pictures of a man dying of Aids, dead Mafia victims and a new-born baby trailing an uncut umbilical cord. Upsetting and offensive as some of these images may be, they keep an issue in the public domain, and perhaps most importantly, encourage people to think and talk about issues that they might otherwise be able to ignore.
Levi's future looks frayed
03 Mar 2004 15:55
The latest signs of the unravelling of Levi Strauss & Co emerged earlier this week when the jeans maker revealed a 2003 loss of $349 million - the largest annual setback during its seven-year sales slide. CEO Phil Marineau has also conceded that more layoffs may be announced in the next couple of months – on top of last year's 2000 job losses when the company shuttered its last remaining US plants.
More unwelcome news could also be around the corner when management consulting firm Alvarez & Wilson completes the first phase of its corporate review. Appointed at the end of last year, the consultants have been asked to advise on “additional strategies and actions to reduce debt and costs, while building our brands and returning the company to profitable growth,” according to Marineau.
Management missteps, tough US and European retail markets, and unrelenting price deflation have all contributed to its woes. The company also denies that selling a mix of styles and prices through different retail outlets has led to cannibalisation of the mainstream line, with its discount Signature brand, sold at Wal-Mart and Target, emerging as one of the few bright spots in the past year. Even so, the 151-year-old Levi Strauss has a lot of work to do if its promises of better times ahead are to ring true.
01 Mar 2004 15:45
Gap T-shirts, Levi jeans, Nike trainers, and Marks & Spencer cargo pants are among the estimated 200,000 tonnes of old clothes discarded each year in Britain to be worn again or used in industry. African governments are often heard to blame the trade in second-hand clothing for decimating their domestic textile sectors, but are poor economic management and high inflation more to blame? And what do the African consumers think of a practice often seen as no more than western relief aid? The journey of a £50 blouse donated to charity makes for fascinating reading:
Shoplifter caught with trousers down
27 Feb 2004 13:47
I've just been sent a wonderful Friday afternoon story, translated by Access Asia's Paul French from the Yangtze Evening Post.
A Chinese woman unhappy with the trousers she had stolen from a shop may have erred when she took them back to be shortened. The woman found the of trousers too long for her, and hearing from others that the store alters any clothes it sells free of charge, she went back to get the work done. But the store discovered the trousers were a missing pair and held her until she confessed to her theft.
26 Feb 2004 15:24
Just in time for Sunday 29th February – 2004 is a leap year in case you hadn’t twigged – the European Glove Association (EGA) has drawn up a list of superstitions connected with gloves. The idea was prompted by the fact that according to Scottish tradition, February 29th is the only day of the year when a woman can propose to the man in her life. Tradition also dictates that if the man declines, he must repay his suitor with a kiss and a pair of leather gloves or a silk dress.
Did you know, though, that in Denmark the forfeit is even more costly, with the man having to present the woman with 12 pairs of gloves – one for each month of the year!
What’s surprising is just how often gloves are woven into folklore. For example, to dream of finding a pair of gloves means that you are about to embark on a love affair or marriage. To dream of gloves per se means that you will have a lawsuit or business troubles, but you will settle them in a positive manner.
In the French-speaking parts of Canada, it is customary to exchange gifts on New Years Day and one tradition is the giving of gloves or ‘glove money’ to purchase a pair. And in days gone by, the gauntlet glove played a significant role in the initiation of a duel. If a man wanted to challenge an opponent, he would slap him across the face with his gauntlet from right to left. His rival would have no choice but to go into battle as pride was such an important concept. Or they would ‘Throw Down the Gauntlet’ in front of their opponent - if their foe picked up the glove they were accepting the challenge of a duel.
Even today many US Major League Baseball stars are known to follow rituals involving their sporting gloves. One that stands out is Len Dykstra who played for the Mets and Phillies, he would throw away his batting gloves if he failed to hit in a single At-Bat, meaning he sometimes went through hundreds of pairs a year!
The new Millennium Bug?
23 Feb 2004 18:08
Several times in recent months I've heard the abolition of quotas at the end of 2004 likened to Y2K, otherwise known as the Millennium Bug. We all remember the run-up to 1 January 2000 and the expected global computer meltdown when systems and software attempted to register the date as 01-01-00. Whether we were saved by the actions of IT consultants on exhorbitant fees, or not, we'll never know. But what is certain is that the same level of hysteria seems to be breaking out in the clothing industry as firms try to ease their passage into the quota-free era. Will China take over the world's apparel supply chain? Will the value of world textile exports decrease? Who knows for sure, but what is certain is that we'll all be talking about it for the next 12 months at least. In a new feature that went live on the site today, consultant Mike Flanagan makes another valid point. He believes what we will be concerning ourselves with after 2004 will be anticipating regulatory change and government indecision. Now that really will be tough to fathom.
Beat cellulite with your feet?
20 Feb 2004 16:09
Earlier this month we reported on the launch of cellulite-beating shorts; now it seems it’s the turn of footwear to jump on the bandwagon to make those unwanted puckers melt away. The $200 trainers are called Masai Barefoot Technology or MBT and feature a curved and layered sole that replicates walking on grass or sand for an improved circulatory workout. Despite scientific scepticism about the claims made for the shoes, there’s still a waiting list from women keen to put them to the test!
An Ugg-ly tale
18 Feb 2004 17:50