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Fashion SVP's Buzz Carter's take on manufacturing challenges

Ahead of next month’s international sourcing trade show Fashion SVP in London, Drapers catches up with chief executive Buzz Carter about adding a denim area and why manufacturers need to be more in tune than ever with retailers’ needs.

Fashion SVP

Fashion SVP

Why add a denim area to the June edition of Fashion SVP?

There’s a general element to the show in that we cover lots of different sectors. We’ve never focused on denim specifically because we’ve been letting the show grow organically, but there has been a lot of feedback from visitors saying they want to see more denim. There’s lots of denim activity in Europe, but not in London, so there’s a gap there.

We have confirmed denim producers from Pakistan, India, Portugal, Italy and China. 

What trends are you seeing in the denim sourcing market?

It is very interesting that when the athleisure revolution happened, people talked about the death of denim. That combined with the rising price of cotton, left some wondering whether the denim market would decline, but I don’t think that is the case currently at all. Denim is as popular as ever on the high street, there’s a lot of innovation around new fibres and a lot of solutions are being created to deal with the industry’s sustainability issues.

The old days of waiting for the phone to ring and for a sizeable order to come in are over

In terms of fashion, denim doesn’t go away but there is a heightened interest in performance fabrics and new fibres. My sense is that it is no holds barred when it comes to innovation in denim.

What trends are you seeing more generally in fashion manufacturing?

We know that seasons are dead now, effectively. Retailers are having to source more and more all the time, because it isn’t seasonal, runs are shorter and buying patterns are driven by data.

Manufacturers are finding the sheer volume of demand for product development and design knowledge challenging. The old days of waiting for the phone to ring and for a sizeable order to come in are over.

Manufacturers now need to be so attuned to their customer that they almost know what they are going to say before they say it

Manufacturers now need to be so attuned to their customer that they almost know what they are going to say before they say it. They have to be doing their homework on product development so they are one step ahead of the client. Now, how many manufacturers are actually like that? It’s only a percentage, and that’s a challenge.

Has the decision to leave the European Union had an impact on the British manufacturing industry?

There is total mixed picture when it comes to British manufacturing. On the one hand, there are still some ethical issues when it comes to some parts of British manufacturing and from my observation there is still some pain left from the collapse of the industry. People have long memories, and there is still a trust gap between brands and manufacturers in the UK.

Having said that, I do speak to brands who say they are producing huge amounts in the UK, and parts of Leicester, and I’m sure Manchester, are booming. It really is a mixed bag.

Will the industry be like it was? Of course not, but there are problems in China because of rising prices and problems in other parts of the world because of security.

Fashion SVP is on 26-27 June at Olympia London. 

 

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