The just-style guest blog
The apparel and textile business guest blog on just-style
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Snood feud across Manchester
13 Dec 2010 17:49
Last week's blog on snoods did not go unnoticed by a growing community of people intrigued by what is essentially a glorified scarf, and there is more to report.
Search engine giant Bing was in touch with just-style over the issue, revealing a 600% increase in search popularity for the term 'snood'.
Meanwhile, the neck warmer has grown in stature of late thanks to boyband JLS and footballers like Manchester City's Carlos Tevez.
As the X Factor drew to a close JLS optimised its snood exposure, while Tevez dominated back pages yesterday (12 December) by handing in a non-snood related transfer request.
In both fashion and sport, the snood is having a Marmite effect on the market, loved by some players but banned by Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand.
And although I haven't tested the water just yet, it is likely that just-style's newsdesk will remain a snood-friendly zone.
Cold snap leads to snood mania
08 Dec 2010 17:28
A curiously-named variation of the scarf is sweeping across the UK as wimpy footballers try to stave off the cold weather.
The 'snood', which is pulled over the head rather than needing to be wrapped around the neck, is being adopted by sports 'men' and musicians alike.
During an unseasonably cold lead-up to Christmas in the UK, retailers like Gap and Next are stocking up on snoods big time. Just one click brings up dozens.
While snoods hold a certain appeal to me as a fashion accessory, they will not be making my Christmas list as a football item for a few reasons.
Firstly, I can see the snood doubling up as a kind of 'leash' while playing competitive sports at the rock-bottom level I do. Secondly, a grown man wearing a scarf while doing exercise can only lead to widespread laughter and verbal abuse too.
So while temptingly cosy, the snood is not the complete answer to Britain's big freeze chaos.
Tantalising trip home from SLDF
18 Nov 2010 17:29
It's a return to the newsdesk for me after spending the past week reporting on Sri Lanka's apparel industry.
Sri Lanka Design Festival 2010 was a real success, for both the country and the international delegation there.
Eventually the time came to swap Colombo's coastline for Baltic Britain, as we boarded our Sri Lankan Airlines flight back to the UK.
There was more flirting with paradise to come though, as the plane touched down to drop off half the passengers in the Maldives.
Tantalisingly, the airline's front-view and ground-view cameras showed the white beaches and bright blue waters as we landed, before dozens of honeymooners skipped off into luxury.
Together with garments, tourism will be a key driver to Sri Lanka's economy for it to recover from a 30-year civil war.
The country wants to add green credentials and design elements to their clothing exports, and certainly seem to be thinking outside the box. As an industry expert told me on the flight home though, it will take long-term agreements with leading Western retailers to ensure a return on their investments.
Final day in crazy Colombo
15 Nov 2010 16:15
I'm nearing the end of my trip to Colombo for the Sri Lanka Design Festival 2010, which is showing few signs of fizzling out.
As fashion brands try to ink last-minute deals with local suppliers, just-style set off set off down Colombo's coast to interview Brandix CEO Ashroff Omar.
He was in fine form, describing how while other industries were making more money yet selling better products, apparel retailers had fallen behind.
Brandix offers a vertical supply chain, and is one of Sri Lanka's largest suppliers to the Western market. Omar also said that the company had not yet been affected by the removal of GSP+, but warned of a possible lag effect.
Having interviewed one of Sri Lanka's most successful businessmen for half an hour I left the office upbeat.
Unfortunately, though, my driver was nowhere to be seen, prompting a local guard to beckon him from the beach without further ado. My trusty chauffeur returned but was dripping wet and shaking his head.
Turns out he'd used the 'free time' - as they all call it here - to have a bit of a stroll along the waterfront, but had dropped his phone into sea. As the time passed by he was plunged into darkness as the lapping waves washed away his cherished mobile phone.
Fear not though, because I have taken his address to send him a redundant one from my old gadgets drawer back home.
Farewell from a now-stormy Colombo, just how just-style found it a week ago.
Storms pass in Sri Lanka
12 Nov 2010 14:39
The welcome awaiting Design Festival delegates at MAS's eco-plant
Sri Lanka is getting back to normal after severe flooding that displaced thousands from their homes coincided with the start of the Sri Lanka Design Festival here in Colombo.
just-style was part of an international delegation that defiantly set off into the torrential rain yesterday (11 November) to visit an eco-factory as part of the festivities. As we drove out of the city it became clear we were going nowhere fast, with large sections of roads turned into rivers.
The long journey was worth it when we reached MAS's plant though, and were even served king coconuts by the factory staff once the weather had cleared up (see below).
Further rain also held off for the opening of the Festival's craft village last night, which involved an open-air traditional drum and dance show. Government officials attended the launch, causing a media scrum, but the president himself had the more important task of visiting local flood victims.
After an eventful day it was time to rest up for today's Ethical Fashion Symposium, where speakers discussed Sri Lanka's investment in green factories and its Garments Without Guilt campaign.
The commitment to sustainability has been an expensive one for the industry here, which will be hoping the gamble pays off.
This week's weather isn't the only storm to pass through Sri Lanka of late though, and the country has done well to bounce back from a civil war and the tsunami in the past decade and get back on its feet.
While displaced people in the north and east of the country are still feeling those effects, garment manufacturing presents a realistic opportunity to rebuild, with the industry representing 45% of the country's total exports.
Check back on just-style for further coverage from a now-sunnier Sri Lanka.
Bright mood despite the washout
11 Nov 2010 12:00
My second instalment from Sri Lanka brings news of a historical washout. Over the past seven hours there have been 400 millilitres of rain in seven hours here - the highest in 18 years. "Wherever you are stay put," a local radio says.
Needless to say we have headed out anyway, currently en route to a series of garment factory visits around Colombo as part of this year's Sri Lanka Design Festival.
First up is MAS Holdings' Thurulie eco-factory, where the recycled rainwater system will be working overtime.
We were treated to dinner last night at the house of MAS group director Dian Gomes, only for another heavy downpour to literally drown out the band.
Heading down Colombo's main highway this morning we pass a group of young lads knee-deep in the floods, but smiling at our coach party from ear to ear.
After all, this is Sri Lanka's rainy season and although the weather is wet the mood is still bright.
Sri Lanka Design Festival
11 Nov 2010 11:58
just-style has jetted out to Colombo for this year's Sri Lanka Design Festival. The festival, which started up last year, includes an ethical fashion forum, factory visits and catwalk shows.
It is my first experience of the Asian country, which is looking to bounce back from a tsunami and civil war in recent years.
My initial impression from flying Sri Lankan Airlines is that the State is intent on getting back on track, starting with tourism. 'Mother Sri Lanka' was the tagline for the airlines welcome message, which encouraged locals to take pride in rebuilding their country.
Garments, of course, will play a large part of that too, together with ceylon tea, sugar and cinnamon exports.
Driving from the airport to our hotel near Colombo shows that improving infrastructure is central to progress. I am told the Colombo highway is as built up as roads get here, but we are still accompanied by goats, cows, tuk-tuks and fruit carts.
It does all add the charm though, and should make for an insightful week.
Textile Institute turns 100
03 Nov 2010 09:11
just-style has been invited to Manchester today (3 November) to mark 100 years of the Textile Institute.
Well, strictly speaking the organisation will be celebrating its centenary all year, but an international conference over the next few days has attracted some key speakers.
This morning's session will be opened by Professor Xiao-ming Tao, head of institute of Textiles and Clothing, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, who will discuss functional textiles, clothing and footwear. Tao's impressive resume promises to bring a modern twist to this landmark event.
Also speaking at the event are Ashroff Omar, CEO of Brandix Lanka, and Andy Rubin, CEO of Pentland Group. With a visit to Sri Lanka's Design Festival scheduled for next week, it will be particularly insightful for just-style to learn more about Omar's experiences leading a major supplier to the Western world.
Indeed, the globalisation of sourcing and lack of domestic manufacturing are indicative of just how much the UK textile industry has changed over the past century.
Check just-style over the next few days for further updates from the The Textile Institute Centenary Conference.
just-style launches Linkedin group
29 Oct 2010 11:12
Modern day social media means that business meetings are as likely to take place in your living room as they are halfway across the world, and just-style continues to move with the times.
Never before has the style industry had so much opportunity to network, discuss and do business than under the current climate of convenience.
While there is no substitute for meeting in person, just-style has received a number of requests by conference goers to host some 'extra time' debating.
Accepting the challenge, the next step was finding a home for such a service from the toolbox of social networking sites available.
Twitter already serves a purpose to the just-style newsdesk, but anyone familiar with Tweeting knows that expressing an opinion in 140 characters has its limitations. Facebook is another great way to network, but is more cyber-pub than cyber-seminar.
Linkedin, therefore, seems the obvious place for just-style readers to convene.
Launched this week, the just-style Linkedin Group will host debates on breaking news, follow-up topical issues and, encourage members to network with each other and feedback to us.
Already the issue of cotton has prompted reaction, with a general feeling that the "panic button" has been pressed. The next question is how and when the surge will translate into the price of garments. Have an opinion? Why not join the just-style Linkedin group today.
Made in Italy the Chinese way
28 Oct 2010 14:50
The Italian town of Prato, famous for its textiles and clothing manufacturers, continues to be a successful stomping ground for Chinese businesses, an investigation finds.
According to this report by the BBC, Chinese firms in Prato make around 1m garments a day, with a value of about EUR2bn (US$2.78bn) per year.
Investigator Silvia Pieraccini writes that there are 5,000 Chinese-run factories in the town, which are able to cut unbeatable supply deals with mills back home.
Furthermore, the fluorishing Chinese factories are keeping full order books thanks to the quality associated with Made in Italy goods.
The competition has spelt trouble for Italian-owned factories in Prato though, with half priced out of their own market since 2001, Pieraccini finds, and not without causing some resentment.