The trials and changes presently facing supply chains may have spurred attendance at Sourcing at MAGIC in Las Vegas last week.
“From the day we opened to the day we closed, we were busy,” said Christopher Griffin, UBM Fashion Group president of international business development and president of Sourcing at MAGIC. “Topline, we had a very good show.”
Touching on what emerged as some of the overarching trends in the industry, Griffin told Sourcing Journal post show that one theme in particular rose above the others: sustainability.
“Without a doubt, I think the drumbeat is getting louder and louder as it relates to sustainable practices, particularly waterless practices as it relates to denim processing,” he said. “Companies are using less of everything, figuring out how to reuse, recycle, repurpose. It’s really starting to get a lot of momentum.”
One feature of the latest show was a virtual reality experience dubbed X-Ray Fashion. “It’s a film made by an Italian director [Francesco Carrozzini] and it takes you into the various places that are impacted by fast fashion,” Griffin explained.
As part of the sustainability focused immersive experience produced by Vulcan Productions, attendees could remove their shoes and virtually traverse rivers in Bangladesh and other areas that have taken a hit at the hands of the fashion industry. “There’s a point in the path where you’re standing in water and in the 3-D experience you’re in a river,” Griffin said.
Waterless denim was a major feature at the show too, with companies like Jeanologia showcasing nanotechnology and advancements in waterless and laser finishing for jeans. Levi’s has also been a major player in the area of saving water in denim processing, with its Water<Less line.
“Using less water, discharging nothing, I mean it’s there. The technology is there,” Griffin said, noting that he will continue using the Sourcing at MAGIC platform to highlight game-changing brands and technologies that will help bring the fashion industry out of its harmful ways.
Beyond sustainability and water saving, tariffs, trade and Made in China 2025 were other big focuses at Sourcing.
The questions, according to Griffin, are overwhelmingly: “Where is that taking us? Where should sourcing executives go? How should they respond to that? Should I move production to Vietnam?”
And the move to neighboring Asian countries in hopes of minimizing China risk is something Griffin sees happening.
“It’s small percentage points, but they are moving,” he said. While he feels most people believe the trade and tariff battle will eventually resolve, moving forward—regardless of which way the battle shakes out—won’t be without challenges. “China is such a big player, it’s not like you’re going to eliminate China overnight.”
Due in part to the unpredictable stresses of global trade, companies are growing increasingly keen to source closer to home, and new technologies are enabling them to do so.
“The other things that I’m seeing and that we have on the floor are the rapid advancements in technology and digitization,” Griffin said. “We’re still a bit away from a fully automated assembly line that could sew a pair of jeans, but it’s partially automated.”
Bringing this to light for attendees, the show floor featured micro factories showcasing technologies like a body scanner from Tukatech that can make 3-D fit models from a series of measurements derived from scanning the body, and a CAD system that creates the style in a 3-D format to bypass physical sample making, saving time and costs.
The industry, Griffin said, is “working on some really interesting things in terms of production speed and capacity using new technologies and that’s what will make it possible to have apparel factories back in the U.S.”
Touching on the move to unite the manifold MAGIC shows under one roof beginning with this year’s August edition, Griffin said candidly that the response has largely been: ‘Thank you and what took you so long?”
“We’re excited about August. We’re all going to be in one venue and for sourcing that’s good because it brings in that business that’s usually in Mandalay Bay. It’s an additional value add for the sourcing community,” he said.
And the timing seems right to bring the industry closer together, too.
“Our industry is facing a lot of seismic change, whether you’re a brand or a retailer or a factory there’s so much change going on and something about it just feels right,” Griffin said. “We’re circling the wagons, we’re a community, many of us are dealing with the same issues. Whether you’re in men’s, women’s, kids, footwear, I think it will be nice to have everyone all in the same place.”