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Upstream Focus: WTS’ Luis Antonio Aspillaga on Peru, Prioritizing Digitalization & Fiber Procurement

Upstream Focus is Sourcing Journal’s series of conversations with suppliers, associations and sourcing professionals to get their insights on the state of sourcing, innovations in manufacturing and how to improve operations. In this Q&A, Luis Antonio Aspillaga, CEO of World Textile Sourcing, an apparel trading company in Peru that works with U.S. and European brands, explains the impact of digitalizing product development and the state of raw material sourcing.

Luis Antonio Aspillaga WTS
Luis Antonio Aspillaga, CEO of World Textile Sourcing Courtesy

Name: Luis Antonio Aspillaga

Title: CEO

Company: World Textile Sourcing (WTS)

What’s the number one question you get from your clients now that was never really a consideration before?

Fabric and material availability is the number one concern for most of our clients based on shortages in the industry. WTS has positioned our fiber needs through the first half of 2022, so we feel fortunate this has not been a concern for us.

Which processes have you put in place due to Covid-19 that you’d like to see continue even after the health crisis is behind us?

We were already on the path to digitalization, but Covid has certainly made this a priority. While many of our processes were already digitalized, 3D design and product development has proven very beneficial for those clients who value speed to market and sustainability.

The other point I would highlight is that our passion for being close to our customers and understanding their needs and business has always been a strength for WTS. This continued to be beneficial during Covid, as we transparently discussed business challenges on both sides with our clients to find solutions.

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How are you evaluating potential brand and retail clients differently now compared to before the pandemic?

Our commitment is to longstanding relationships with our clients. We want both our clients and WTS to be stable and grow.

As the apparel industry tries to overcome its pandemic overstock issues, how can supply chain partners improve inventory management?

Transparent discussions about what is needed from a business perspective. We can also embrace smaller orders when we know they are being placed monthly rather than once a season.

Additionally, projections for fiber needs help to position raw materials so they are available as clients need them.

What should be brands’ and retailers’ top lesson from Covid-19? How can they address this in their operations?

Both brands and retailers should take advantage of digitalization and nearshoring as realistic speed-to-market solutions.

How are you working with your factories to support quick-turn, small-run orders?

As we are a vertical operation, we recommend factories based on the size of the orders and needs of the client. Our centralized management also helps reduce cost and time.

Our 15 partner factories range in size capabilities, so we could always support new business spinoffs and test orders. Larger size orders can be handled by our largest capacity factory.

Due to our centralized management at WTS, we can ensure consistency and quality across all facilities.

Which new sourcing regions are you either considering or ramping up today?

We are wholly invested in Peru to maintain supply chain integrity, transparency and availability of raw materials. These qualities in our unique end-to-end supply chain ensure “Made in Peru” continues to represent 5,000 years of textile tradition. As opportunities and needs change, we continue to evaluate and adapt our supply chain within Peru.

As you’re considering where to source, what are your top considerations today?

Speed and sustainability. My lifelong passion has been providing clients around the globe with Peruvian products, sharing our millinery textile tradition, demonstrating the country’s top quality craftsmanship, premium fibers and outstanding service within the textile industry. Throughout the supply chain, we are committed to full transparency, fair labor standards and a culture fostering creativity and continual innovation. At WTS, we operate as a family, and that principle extends not only to our employees but to our partners and clients. Our verticality allows us to make and deliver goods in 45 days or less.

What keeps you up at night?

Shipping costs and fiber price increases. As the cost of containers rises, delays occur at the ports for unloading, and U.S. internal transit costs also continue to rise, we are faced every day with new challenges. Coupled with the instability in fiber prices as a delivered duty paid (DDP) supplier, the impact is very real. We were able to secure our fibers needs until 2022, so we feel confident in our fiber availability.

What makes you most optimistic?

We were able to weather the Covid storm and are starting to see clients look for nearshore and innovation as priorities. We look forward to later in the year when we can travel again and see our clients face-to-face and enjoy dinner together once again.

What’s in store for WTS in 2021?

We have been proud the last six months to participate in regenerative cotton, the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, Lenzing fiber developments and Textile Exchange’s 2025 Sustainable Cotton Challenge and its Corporate Fiber & Materials Benchmark (CFMB), which will help us to measure ourselves against the industry. We will continue to innovate and are committed to sustainability and quality.