Blog: Leonie BarriePrime Source Forum

Leonie Barrie | 2 April 2007

It’s wonderful when a trade event really lives up to expectations, and I can honestly say that last week’s Prime Source Forum in Hong Kong did that and more. Speakers and delegates travelled from around the globe – most continents were represented – and across the supply chain – from fibre and fabric suppliers to accessories, technology, manufacturers and retailers – making this the international meeting place that was promised.

And what’s more, everyone was keen to take part in the debate, openly sharing their comments and experience of the industry, the challenges they face and the opportunities that might exist in the future. It made for a refreshingly open discussion platform with no national gripes or political agendas to feed and caginess between competitors seemingly abandoned for two days – to the extent that people were even meeting during the intervals to talk about ways of taking certain issues to the next level. Of course there are no magic solutions, but the simple fact that all segments of the industry can get together to expose the issues is hugely beneficial.  

As I’m still trying to decipher more than 50 pages of scribbled notes – and fighting ferocious jetlag too – forgive me if I borrow some thoughts from Bob Zane, chairman of the United States Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel (USA-ITA), whose summary of the two days of discussions highlighted the very reason why an event like this is needed by our industry.

“Those of us who buy product would like to buy better product, faster and for less money. Those who supply product are looking at how we can give buyers more service, better product, for less money. In the midst of this the governments are trying to prevent imports coming in and protect industries that don’t exist, even though their consumers choose to buy cheaper imported goods. And even though companies are all concerned with the various aspects of social responsibility, they have yet to put together a code of conduct that they can all agree on.”

Perhaps more than anything Prime Source Forum posed more questions than it answered, and exposed just how much more the industry has to do to achieve its goals. All of which suggest that next year’s event – 1-2 April 2008 if you’re interested – will be just as well attended. It will be equally interesting to see how much, if any, progress has been made on tackling some of the key issues. 

Finally, a big thanks to the organiser APLF Ltd for having the conviction to support an event like this, and to those readers of just-style who introduced themselves to me...your comments and suggestions have all been noted!


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