Sourcing being affected by the changing world order
The looming threat of tariffs, political tensions and monetary instability mean that sourcing strategies now rely on solving equations with multiple unknown factors. “The unexpected has become the norm,” observes Nicolas Prophte, Vice-President of the Denim Center, within Pvh Group. For this expert, “the trade war between China and the United States is shaking up practices and redistributing the cards in the global game.” Worried by the power struggle being played out by the two countries, certain American central buyers, who were working in China, are changing tack.
The repercussions are also being felt in Europe: “There is definitely something in the air, and price-wise there are major opportunities for European central buyers. Local factories have made attractive offers while still respecting the high level of quality required by our standards,” says Sophie Apollis, collections and buying director for La Halle (Vivarte group).
In this context, the Manufacturing Overseas universe– specialising in manufacturing in the Asia-Pacific region – is welcoming new exhibitors coming from the Middle Kingdom. Companies with recognised social and environmental certifications and with unusual, even exclusive, savoir-faire. These include seam-free technologies suitable for sport (Zheijinag Caidie Industry), padded garments (Zheijang Wenhua), large eco-responsible items (Quanzhou Lime Garment) and products in printed and embroidered silk (Suzhou Insilk). Within Manufacturing Knitwear, the Chinese contingent of cashmere specialists is expanding with the arrival of Springair, Xinchang Yabao and Pluswin.
The growing tension between the US and China is also offering new potential for South-East Asia. Vietnam is capitalizing on this, notably with the so-called “essential” ranges. The recent ratification of a free-trade agreement with Europe and its stable relationship with the US play in its favour. Vitas (the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association) has listed ten national manufacturers present for the first time at Manufacturing Overseas, including Babbeni, Luwave, Lien Phuong, Quanon, Thai Hoa, and Trinh.
Other factors are redrawing the global sourcing map. “The unpredictable weather means we have to engage in the short term with more local partners, which creates a virtuous circle for fashion that respects the environment,” observes Sophie Apollis. She has seen central buyers returning to Turkey, “notably for stitched knitwear, printed tee-shirts and shirts.” At Pvh, they also favour proximity to reduce the carbon footprint: “for the European market, we focus on the Mediterranean basin, notably Tunisia for denim, as it’s only two days by truck for delivery, while Portugal has become a major partner for circular knitwear”. At Manufacturing Proximity, Europe’s high performer is enhancing its presence: there will be 18 Portuguese manufacturers at this edition, compared to 13 at the previous one.