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IAF and Foursource Unveil First-Ever Digital Global Apparel Sourcing Expo

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The International Apparel Federation (IAF) has launched its inaugural Digital Global Apparel Sourcing Expo 2020, an online event geared at promoting stronger supply chains for the ready-made garment industry. The Digital Global Apparel Sourcing Expo will be powered by Foursource, which will provide the event with the technology designed to connect international buyers and apparel manufacturers. Sourcing Journal is the official media partner of the event.

The digital event will launch on July 15 and run for 30 days until August 14, but the conference content program will take place on three separate days over a three-week span.

The first program, held Thursday, July 16, will focus on sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) after COVID-19. The second program, taking place Thursday, July 23, will key in on shifts in global trade through the pandemic, while the third program, hosted on Thursday July 30, tackles digital product development and the actions needed to become industry standard.

Confirmed speakers so far include Avedis H. Seferian, CEO of non-profit social compliance organization WRAP; Julie K. Hughes, president of the United States Fashion Industry Association; Han Bekke, president of IAF; Andrés Fernández, sourcing director of Mango; Michael Wax, co-founder and managing director of logistics technology provider Forto; Christian Ewert, president of Amfori; Alexander Kohnstamm, executive director at Fair Wear Foundation and Liesl Truscott, director of European and materials strategy at Textile Exchange.

All presentations will be recorded and available throughout and after the show.

Beyond the content, the conference enables apparel manufacturers and suppliers to create personalized digital exhibitor booths that can be visible to Foursource’s wide network of global buyers. The booths include virtual showrooms that enable manufacturers to upload unlimited photos and videos showcasing their products, technologies and manufacturing techniques.

“We have more than 15,000 buyers on our platform that have created their own sourcing profiles like you would on LinkedIn that are very specific for the sourcing behavior of the individual buyer,” Jonas Wand, chief sales officer of Foursource, told Sourcing Journal. “The buyer can go to the platform and start to search for the new suppliers or existing suppliers. The suppliers themselves have a comprehensive profile with a lot of information such as capabilities and factory specifics, a virtual showroom and a certification area that creates a level of trust on the buyer side.”

The Foursource matchmaking algorithm is designed to match manufacturers with relevant buyers, and provides manufacturers with “smart” recommendations and notifications on who visited the booth. Exhibitors can search the buyer community with advanced filters to further tailor their needs and then instantly message them through the platform.

“The nice thing about this digital sourcing fair is that you can do things you can’t do on a physical fair floor,” said Matthijs Crietee, secretary general of IAF. “I’m sure we’ve all had experiences at a sourcing fair where we ask, ‘How are these companies going to distinguish themselves from the others?’ I remember I attended one fair where a Chinese manufacturer actually owned 7,000 stores, but unless you already knew that, you wouldn’t know from their exhibitor stand. There’s so much information that you want to share and then connect in a smart way that you can do digitally.”

Crietee felt that even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a need for a new sourcing event, noting feedback from global IAF member associations that they weren’t always satisfied with existing sourcing fairs. While building a true global fair can be tough to accomplish physically, the digital alternative would make it easier for manufacturers to connect with buyers.

“On top of the demand that was already there, there was the urgent demand to have something because the physical fairs—whatever the manufacturers and buyers thought of them—weren’t available,” Crietee said. “It’s a perfect storm for us.”

IAF and Foursource first struck a partnership in November, with the companies sharing a mission to foster greater transparency in the apparel industry through digitization.

The event can be accessed free of charge by textile and apparel professionals on iafnet.com and foursource.com.

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