This era of time will go down in the denim history books as a period of change that triggered wide-sweeping shifts in how jeans are sourced, design and sold. For Artistic Milliners, it earmarks a new chapter in the company’s 70-plus-year story.
The Karachi, Pakistan-based denim manufacturer acquired last year a denim factory in Commerce, Calif. The new venture, called Star Fades International (SFI), is an integral part of Artistic Milliners’ vision to offer clients supply chain 4.0 principles and 360-degree design in the U.S.
Powered by the facility’s existing expert team, SFI will provide turnkey and custom wash and finishing services to a customer roster that ranges from large international retailers to specialty premium labels. The facility’s capacity currently stands at 100,000 units a month. Additional investments, however, are in place to increase capacity to 300,000 units a month.
Many of the laundry’s longtime staff have been retained, including Tony Rodriguez, who has been named chief operating officer of SFI, the company stated.
The allure of L.A. adds a new dimension to the company’s portfolio. “California has historically been an important cornerstone for the international denim industry,” said Murtaza Ahmed, SFI founder and Artistic Milliners executive director.
An L.A. laundry was part of Artistic Milliners long-term strategy, but the plan was fast-tracked when an established facility equipped with industry-leading wet and dry process technologies, including lasers, ozone and e-flow machines, was put on the market in early 2020.
Expertise in the premium denim market and strong laser capabilities are L.A. hallmarks, but the sector’s ability to run small orders is proving to be a valuable advantage as brands work to bounce back from the pandemic slump with limited-edition collections and new products in a more financially and environmentally responsible way.
As the first Pakistani denim company with an operational factory in L.A., Artistic Milliners aims to raise Pakistan’s profile as a sourcing destination. It is also working on passing on the benefits of being a vertical operation to its customers.
“The SFI acquisition serves as a major leap in Artistic Milliners’ evolution as a truly global denim company as it adds multiple dimensions to our operating model,” said Omer Ahmed, Artistic Milliners CEO and SFI cofounder. “Not only does it give our brand partners a U.S.-based manufacturing option but also serves as a nucleus for co-creation and collaboration from fiber to garment at a scale and depth never witnessed before in our industry.”
Together with Artistic Milliners’ ability to scale production in Pakistan and SFI’s speed capabilities, the company can drive further sustainability and efficiency in the supply chain by accurately forecasting demand and adjusting inventory levels to replenish fast-selling units or repurpose slow-moving stock. By having garments that were stitched in Pakistan prepositioned in L.A., SFI clients can request various test washes and finishes and have garments shipped from the laundry.
“In 2021, we anticipate increased demand from international retailers and brands for near-shoring capacity, digital design services and sustainable solutions,” Murtaza Ahmed said. “Our investment in this factory gives us a launch platform in the U.S. to meet that demand as we build the factory of the future.”