Blog: IAF day two: Time to talk globalisation

Joe Ayling | 31 October 2008

The agenda turns to globalisation in Maastricht today (31 October) after a fascinating first day of debate yesterday among delegates at the IAF World Apparel Convention.

VF Corporation sourcing director Thomas Glaser and Esquel CEO John Che will be among those casting views on the future geography of apparel manufacturing and consumption.

just-style was impressed by yesterday's line up here, with Tommy Hilfiger CFO Ludo Onnink giving an honest assessment of the company's journey, relocation to Europe and takeover by Apax Partners in 2006.

He seems determined to pitch the company's new structure against lifestyle brand competitors such as Hugo Boss, Lacoste, Diesel, Guess and Puma.

"You always need to be prepared for changing consumer trends," He said. "But global brands never die."

Onnink was followed by Liz Claiborne CEO Bill McComb, who gave an equally refreshing outlook on today's fashion business.

McComb, who joined Claiborne in November 2006, was soon charged with streamlining the company's 48-brand portfolio by reviewing 16 of them.

"We were an inch deep and a mile wide," he openly admitted. "This company bought some great great brands, but too many of them."

McComb has shed many of these brands - which include Emma James, Intuitions, JH Collectibles, Tapemeasure, Prana, Ellen Tracey, Laundry By Design, C&C California, and, last week, Enyce - at just the right time given the current financial crisis.

As the day progressed, corporate social responsibility (CSR) grabbed the limelight, with brands now fully aware that consumer trust is all the more vital in a stringent marketplace.

Indeed, the fashion industry is seeing a sea-change from translucent to transparent sustainability practices.

Following the day's schedule, delegates were invited to dinner at the Grotten van Kanne caves in neighbouring Belgium.

There was no sign of Batman and Robin, but the evening was a great chance to catch up with industry friends and learn about new businesses in a still healthily segmented marketplace.

Maastricht has been an excellent choice for the convention, and its windy streets and festive feel at this time of year inspires.

The IAF, which for the first time took sole charge for this year's event, has done a great job and just-style looks forward to revisiting old friends in 2009, when New Delhi, India, will play host.

By Joe Ayling, news editor.


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