Up Close is Sourcing Journal’s regular check-in with industry executives to get their take on topics ranging from personal style to their company’s latest moves. In this Q&A, Tsui Yuen-Pappas, director of sustainability – product development sourcing at women’s wear supplier JS Group International, discusses her company’s environmentally minded moves and how the industry needs to adjust to a changing consumer. JS Group’s brands include Halston Heritage, ML Monique Lhuillier, Carmen Marc Valvo Infusion and Kay Unger.
Name: Tsui Yuen-Pappas
Title: director of sustainability – product development sourcing
Company: JS Group International
Which other industry has the best handle on the supply chain? What can apparel learn?
I think the tech industry is quicker to react to supply chain issues than others as they are used to the quicker turn.
How would you describe yourself as a consumer?
I tend to be an innovator as far as being a consumer. I think all the years of sourcing makes me react to anything new faster than the average consumer.
As a consumer, what does it take to win your loyalty?
I look for quality followed by price; I am always willing to pay more if something is made well. Customer service is also key for me. I do a lot of online shopping and have from its inception. If I get poor customer service, I will not be a repeat customer.
What’s your typical work uniform?
For work, I am still going to the office three to four days even during these times. I love dresses—they are easy and I don’t have to think about tops and bottoms.
On the weekends I am casual/active—yoga wear/activewear is my go-to with a fun T-shirt or top. I’m a huge knitwear fan, so in the winter I have a large collection of sweaters.
Which fashion era is your favorite?
The ’80s. It was a fun era—lots of groundbreaking ideas, and no one was afraid.
Who’s your style icon?
Audrey Hepburn for all the clean lines and amazing wardrobe by Givenchy.
What’s the best decision your company has made in the last year?
The move towards sustainability and pivoting towards a changing world and customer
How would you describe your corporate culture?
Cooperative and kind. I love that the environment stems from the top. People are challenged to be “best in class” without the cutthroat culture so prevalent in fashion companies.
What can companies learn from COVID-19?
That the customer’s mindset is changing. Less is more, disposable is out.
What should be the apparel industry’s top priority now?
Listening to their customers’ changing lifestyle, catering to those needs.
What keeps you up at night?
That many industries and jobs as we knew them will no longer exist and how people are going to make a living. Not everyone is going to be able to pivot. The fashion industry supports a lot of jobs, and I’ve been seeing these jobs disappear, and that makes me sad.
What makes you most optimistic?
That people seem to be adapting and moving to do better and be better people.
Tell us about your company’s latest product introduction/service:
We have been moving steadily to incorporate more sustainable materials and practices in our brands. We will be launching a Sustainable Bridal collection in Theia, one of our brands. Our brand Amur, which uses sustainable materials, is now expanding to more sustainable manufacturing.
We are building out DTC platforms and really looking at our customer as the same person whether she buys from different retail channels.