Blog: Prime Source Forum: Day II

Joe Ayling | 2 April 2009

Apparel brands, suppliers, retailers, buyers, manufacturers and consultants have been unlocking horns at the final session of Prime Source Forum here in Hong Kong.

Talk of supply chain partnership, liberal trade and sustainability has alleviated past unwanted scepticism of rising Chinese exports, according to the executive director of the US Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel, Laura Jones.

However, the financial crisis dominating proceedings at the G20 summit in London this week is also the constant backdrop to discussions here in Hong Kong.

Ken Watson, MD of Industry Forum Consultants and Services, is a self-professed optimist though, and tells delegates that speed of reaction to the turmoil is key.

Indeed, many here see the crisis as an opportunity to reform wasteful procedures in the industry.

Also speaking in the roundup, retail entrepreneur Steven Walton, who is CEO of Gieves and Hawkes, does not buy into the “depressing and downbeat” forecast given by an economist on the first day.

Walton admits companies in the sector will need plenty of passion to see out a turbulent 2009, adding: “Roll on 2010, but with a few changes please.”

A common theme at Prime Source has been partnerships between brands and manufacturers, and delegates at the forum also want European, US and Asian countries to establish common standards for social compliance and the environment.

Likewise, IAF secretary general Han Bekke suggests that the IAF’s annual industry forum every November could join forces with Prime Source to form tangible links between the themes of both.

Apparel associations are demanding strong promises from these meetings, but will avoid implementing legislative measures at all costs.

just-style has been encouraged by this week’s brainstorming, and will provide news and analysis for those who missed the event in weeks to come.

Beyond the brainstorming, it is important communication continues and changes are made for apparel makers to stay resilient to the downturn.

As Indian retail consultant Devangshu Dutta concludes: “The biggest gap in life is between thought and action.”

By Joe Ayling, news editor.

 


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