Monday, November 13, 2006

Apparel industry's constant reinvention inspires

If you feel as if you're stuck in a going-nowhere industry, stop feeling sorry for yourself and consider this: the US apparel industry, long considered dead, continues to reinvent and renew itself.

Back in September, James Flanigan of The New York Times wrote about NYDJ, a company that created innovative blue jeans that look great on women over 35. And today's Wall Street Journal profiles Barry Forman, who sold his garment company when the business began moving to Asia, only to re-emerge with a company that fixes problems with Asian-made garments shipped to the US.

NYDJ uses innovative product design and speed to compete with cheaper overseas rivals. Says President George Rudes in the Times article, “[Specialty and department] stores want up-to-the-minute fashion and quick changes, so you have to make the products here.”

Forman's company, Santa Fe Finishing, thrives by exploiting white space created by the move toward Asian production; namely, that it's impractical to send back flawed goods to Asia. It's best to repair them, in many cases. Forman says, "When I was a manufacturer, I drove a mile to the factory when there was a problem.... What the hell do you do when your goods are from 9,000 miles away?"

So, if you think there's no more room for innovation in your industry, look in the mirror!

(Picture: NYDJ Tummy Tuck jeans from Dorothy's Lubbock Boutique)

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