Narrowing the Focus on Denim
By Ernest Kao and Barbara Wang
It’s been a tough year for the denim industry. Few sectors have felt the impact of rising cotton prices as severely as denim, which relies on the fiber as its key component. With few fiber alternatives, denim mills and apparel makers have only one real option: find ways to add value thereby justifying the higher prices. Sounds good, but in a competitive market that’s often easier said than done.
It’s Still All About Price
“Price is still the biggest problem for us. Customers still expect cheaper products,” said Filip De Brabander, a denim consultant for Saitex International, a jeans-wear manufacturer based in Vietnam. Speaking with Inside Fashion at the recent Kingpins Hong Kong (November 17-18) event he said, “We’re all fishing in the same sea so we really need to find new ways of innovating and marketing to stay competitive.”
With cotton prices rising almost on a daily basis, business has become increasingly challenging as price sensitive buyers are still not used to placing early orders in larger quantities, something they need to do in order to secure the price.
“We have to face reality…rising cotton prices are forcing customers to look for where they can get more value,” said Ralph Tharpe, VP of technical marketing and design at Artistic Garment Industries. “In a vertical operation like ours, we can juggle things…like reduce the accessories to reduce the overall price or reduce the washing while trying to stay within the core esthetics of the customer’s brand,” added Wayne Jansz, general manager of merchandising and marketing.
“We’re finding it quite hard to foster strong relationships with some of our customers. On one hand we have to innovate, but on the other hand if it’s too innovative then they say it’s too expensive,” said Manon Clavel from Kassim Textiles.
But with buyers complaining about increasing fabric prices, companies have no choice but to turn to product development to create value. To the credit of Kingpins, the fair was a showcase for some of the most innovative developments to hit the denim industry. What's new >>