Fashion Quote: “Red Is The Ultimate Cure For Sadness” by Bill Blass
Illustration by Tina Wilson

William Ralph “Bill” Blass was born on June 22, 1922 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He was an American designer and the recipient of many fashion awards, including seven Coty Awards and the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Bill Blass was among the first American designers to attach his name to his brand. With licensing deals, he was also one of the first designers to attach his brand to a variety of products, including luxury items such as perfumes, linens and even cars.

Blass began sketching in his youth and enrolled in the Parsons School of Design. At the start of the Second World War, he was one of a thousand men who served in the “Ghost Army,” part of the 603rd Camouflage Engineers that used visual trickery, including phony bridges, fake artillery positions, and trucks with massive speakers that played the sounds of a whole battalion, all a hoax to throw off the German army. The 603rd Camouflage Engineers stayed near the front of battle during most of the war and saved many Allies (Allied Forces) lives.

After the war, Blass returned to fashion and made both his name and brand with the help of his mentor, Baron Nicholas de Gunzburg, who was also a mentor to Oscar de la Renta and Calvin Klein. Blass later found additional success with sophisticated women’s sportswear…

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THE NEXT INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
(When the Labor Market Gets Tough, the Tough Turn to Robots)
by Andrew Sia

Introduction

In our October issue, we featured the article “The Industrial Revolution to Evolution and What’s Ahead.” The industrial revolution occurred between 1820 and 1840, and began in countries such as Great Britain, France, Germany and Belgium. It took exactly 150 years for this revolution to shift to Asia and now we are starting a new era with the introduction of robots.

Just 30 years ago, industry growth was rapid and cheap labor was abundant. Factories were set up overnight like mushrooms without much concern for efficiency, quality or tooling. If there were any problems, a factory would just move massive amounts of workers around rather than invest in any automation. Not many considered using CAM as manufacturing equipment. For a long period of time, China was labeled as a low-cost-country-model economy.

Consulting firms would assist manufacturers by introducing industry best practices like Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing, and the Taguchi Method. This would ensure quality, drive up production efficiency, and reduce waste and cost. With fierce competition from within and from neighboring countries, price reduction eroded profitability.

China’s adoption of robots

Factories in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) started to upgrade their manufacturing methods by using robots. A hybrid assembly line, with both robots and workers working side by side, is the global trend today in factory automation. Robots are programmed to work safely with the workers to drive up quality products.

PRD is home to nine mainland cities in the province of Guangdong, notably Shenzhen and Guangzhou, as well as China’s special administration regions of Hong Kong and Macao. The World Bank recently declared the PRD as the world’s most populous megacity, with 66 million residents, equal to the population of France.

Its GDP is $1.2 trillion, which accounts for 10% of China’s GDP and represents a quarter of its exports.

Net inflows of migrant workers fell from 1.1 million in 2008 to 600,000 last year. Rising competition and a shrinking workforce are not only Shenzhen’s problem, but the nation’s as well. PRD pushed toward four powerful trends in order to make the region fit into the future: diversification, integration, automation and innovation.

Wages in PRD are a third higher than the national average, but shifting production out of the region can only bring a cost differential of between 20 to 30%. The entire supply chain is centrally located, so it’s not worth uprooting to a cheaper production site elsewhere within China. The standard wage for workers is RMB 4,000 or U.S. $600 per month. PRD still has the best logistics, manufacturing and supply chain.

Across the manufacturing belt of China’s southern coastline, thousands of factories are turning to automation in a government-backed robot-driven industrial revolution that the world has never seen. Since 2013, China has bought more industrial robots each year than any other country, including high-tech manufacturing giants such as Kuka of Germany by Midea, a Fortune 500 company and one of the world’s biggest white-goods manufacturers, and a joint venture with Yaskawa Japan and South Korea.

By the end of this year, China will overtake Japan as the world’s biggest operator of industrial robots, according to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), an industry lobby group. The pace of disruption in China is “unique in the history of robots,” says Gudrun Litzenberger, general secretary of the IFR, which is based in Germany, home to some of the world’s leading industrial-robot makers.

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Word Trade in Turmoil
by Andrew Sia

President Trump withdrew from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership and threatened to renegotiate NAFTA, creating uncertainty. He also canceled the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP), leaving the European Union in disarray with the rising threat of protectionism.

This triggered Europe to shift their focus to Asia and other emerging markets. Europe had been looking to intensify trade with Asia over the last decade by signing trade deals with South Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam. With the U.S. leaving the TPP negotiations, the EU is in discussions with the remaining 11 nations. Brussels continues talks with Mercosur, the South American trade bloc and is considering discussions with the Gulf States, although for the time being those talks have stalled.

These events have prompted us to look into South America and the trade agreements these countries have built.

Union of South American Nations or União de Nações Sul-Americanas, often referred to by one of its three acronyms – UNASUL, UNASUR, and USAN. The UNASUL Constitutive Treaty was signed on May 23, 2008 by the 12-state members at the Third Summit of Heads of States in Brasilia, Brazil. The Union’s headquarters is in Quito, Ecuador. Panama and Mexico were present as observers at the signing ceremony.

The member states come from the Andean Community, Mercosur and some others…

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The New Frontier of Intimate Apparel: Revisiting The Sports Bra as a Standalone Category
by Andrew Sia

This year we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the sports bra, first invented in 1977. This is definitely the golden age of the sports bra and it has been two years since we first featured this garment in our journal. I was producing sports bras a long time ago and have forgotten when we first started production. At one time, a sports bra was something good to have but definitely not a must to carry in one’s clothing line. Whether a name brand or store-brand, you would find them at random.

Picture from Sweaty Betty

But the world was very different then. People were not so health conscious. A visit to the gym for a workout was only part of the life of the elites. People changed into sportswear before exercising and would then change back into street attire afterwards. In those days the dress code was very important.

Back then, the choice in sports bras was very limited and available sizes were also quite limited. The bra was meant to flatten the breasts and stop them from moving during a workout. I can’t recall if there were cup sizes. Most likely they went by band size and we labelled them small, medium and large. Perhaps we were only serving a small group of customers and we didn’t need to make more sizes to cover a wider demographic.

Although the construction was relatively intricate, I would say the limited styles were uninspired and the fabric selection unflattering. The bra came in basic underwear colors, mostly white.

In the past twenty years, average bra sizes have jumped, from 34B to 34DD, a difference of four sizes. This information comes from an industry survey and I’m not going to argue with it, although I would want to say that the band size may have increased by one size as well, to 36. If you look at a typical order today, the size range is moving up, both the cup sizes and the band sizes.

Weight gain, breast implants, eating habits and lifestyle choices are all basic reasons for this trend. There are more players throughout the supply chain, from manufacturing to retailing, and the emphasis on customer education to customer service and a larger selection of product categories have all helped expand this industry. Today we have a market that is more demanding than ever.

According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), athletic participation rates continue to rise. The number of teams competing in NCAA sponsored sports reached an all-time high of 19,086, a 6-fold increase over a 20-year period.

According to Cotton Incorporated Sports Apparel and Lifestyle MonitorTM, walking is by far the most popular fitness activity for women, with the other activities listed below:

• Walking – 80%
• Cardio training – 47%
• Aerobics – 41%
• Running – 37%
• Dancing – 34%
• Yoga – 33%

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Robot Takeover of Apparel Production
by Susanna Koelblin

First large scale shoe robot factory unveiled: Adidas will use machines in Germany instead of humans in Asia to make shoes.

Adidas, the German maker of sportswear, has announced it will start marketing its first series of shoes manufactured by robots in Germany starting in 2017. More than 20 years after it ceased production activities in Germany and moved them to Asia, Adidas unveiled the group’s new prototype “Speedfactory” in Germany. As of this year, the factory will begin large-scale production. What’s more, Adidas will also open a second Speedfactory in the U.S. in 2017, followed by more in Western Europe. According to the company, the German and American plants will, in the “mid-term,” each scale up to producing half a million pairs of shoes per year.

Does this pose a threat to Adidas’s traditional manufacturing base in China, Indonesia and Vietnam? After all, labor in the region is becoming less cheap these days, and manufacturers are increasingly turning to robots. The current model in the apparel industry is very much based on sourcing products from countries where consumers are typically not based. In the longer term, Adidas could even produce the shirts of Germany’s national football team in its home country. The shoes made in Germany would sell at a similar price to those produced in Asia, where Adidas employs around one million workers. Arch-rival Nike is also developing its robot-operated factory.

This development in the shoe area is just the beginning and will be leveraged to the apparel industry as well.

Adidas recently unveiled the first silhouette produced by its Speedfactory facility, the Futurecraft M.F.G. (or Made for Germany)

Put aside for a moment how moving jobs back to a country with high costs gives companies an incentive to automate. There’s a bigger issue: After displacing western manufacturing workers, robots are poised to do the same in developing economies. It will be hard to re-shore jobs that no longer exist. It took 50 years for the world
to install the first million industrial robots. The next million will take only eight years. Importantly, much of the recent growth happened particularly in China, which has an aging population and where wages have risen…

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AW 2018/2019 Preview of Lingerie Trends and Direction by Simone Gerschitzka

The beginning of the season, AW 2018/2019, is about to start in our creative heads so I’d like to share a few thoughts and findings with you. Most important, before any lifestyle trend or fabric innovation, all of us in charge should carefully check our collections and items already out there on the shop floor; what is the best-selling item and why, what needs an update, what needs to be cancelled, and so on. This way, you reach the best financial and environmental result for both your business and customer, who will more than appreciate your approach. So let’s have a closer look.

Before “paddling” into creating AW 18/19 please examine your existing collections.

Then define precisely the new strategy and have a good look at the AW 18/19 lingerie trends. “Reflect contemporary femininity” could describe best which trend lies ahead.

Suggested key styles:

  • Underwire styles with versatile strap details, optional strapless bras — both lightly padded or even non padded, depending on your market
  • Soft cup bralet, fashionable light as well as functional for larger sizes
  • Light weight camisoles, also to be worn as outerwear
  • High waist briefs are a must
  • Low waist briefs or hipster styles and thongs
  • Sports bralets and sports underwire bras, also sports briefs • Shaper camisoles and shaper briefs

The main focus lies in two areas:

  • “light easy to wear every day luxury,” which is meant to be worn from morning till end of the day
  • “athleisure,” low & high impact sport like walking, yoga, tennis, running, etc.

Key fabrications and features:

Fine Chantilly look like stretch laces, splitable galloon laces, cotton look & feel embroideries, pre-cut panels with either bonded edges or freecut, microfibers,
dull, shiny, or semi matte, all over flock prints, velvets, silky knits, feel good qualities incorporating bamboo & aloe vera, textured surfaces, pikee looks, burnouts, lightweight stretch silk blends, jacquards, flexible hardware such as flexy rings and slides, laser cut motives & details, high tech cottons, cotton nets, wide rustic looking bands for waists, shoulder straps and detailing.

Apart from the whole sport movement category, I would like to mention that post- surgery shapewear is a huge separate category, which is becoming very important, very fast. Certain well-known fabric producers cater to this specialized area…

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SOFT BRA DEVELOPMENTS by David Morris

SOFT BRAS (WITHOUT WIRES) OR ‘FLAT BRAS’ HAVE HAD LIMITED SALES BUT THERE IS A SWELL OF OPINION THAT THEIR TIME IS RETURNING

SOFT CUP

A practical design that does not use underwire for support. Traditionally regarded
as offering less support than underwire models, soft-cup bras now offer competitive support and shaping. This is accomplished by using crisscross frames, inner undercup slings that rise no more than half the height of the cup itself and padding or lining the bra cup with 2-ply, molded, lined, or seamed material.

‘Show your cleavage on Instagram and it makes you look sad – as if you’re trying too hard,’ says my daughter Ruby 16. It’s a revelation to anyone who has put up and shut up with under-wired armpit jabbers for so many years.

Retail analysts NPD back this up, reporting that sales of traditional bras are down 19 per cent as more women choose sports bras for ‘comfort and ease of movement’…

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Gossard Wonderbra

by David Morris

“WONDERBRA – PUSH UP PLUNGE BRA”

Invented in 1963 by Canadian designer, Louise Poirier. According to Wonderbra USA “this unique garment, the forerunner of today’s Wonderbra push-up bra had 54 design elements that lifted and supported the bust to create dramatic cleavage. Its precision engineering involved three-part cup construction, precision-angled back and underwire cups, removable pads called cookies, gate back back design for support, and rigid straps.”

When David Morris joined Gossard UK in 1971, the Gossard brand was owned by Courtaulds. Gossard had recently bought the Wonderbra license from Canadian Lady and David was one of the team that adapted the bras t for the UK market.

When Gossard released the Wonderbra in the UK in the autumn of 1971 its sales were astonishing, at a sales price of £3.17s.6d in old currency it represented 15% of most professional women’s weekly salary, despite this Gossard struggled to keep pace with the orders…

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EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT

by Andrew Sia

Every irrational promise that Donald Trump made during his presidential campaign was revealed to the world, and his retreat from the Paris Climate Agreement is just one of many. This move came a few days after a tense G-7 summit in Italy that ended with President Trump at loggerheads with other leaders on both the agreement and on trade, which brought great frustration to Germany, France and Italy, who vowed that the decision by the U.S. could not be reversed.

On June 1st, President Trump went ahead and withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, joining only two other nations, Nicaragua and Syria.

Climate change is real, yet this is at odds with the Trump administration. Jeffrey Immelt from General Electric, who is close to the White House, is using this to argue for policies to combat global warming. The other members of the council are:

Elon Musk from Tesla Doug McMillon of Walmart Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo Laurence Fink of BlackRock

We are starting to see them resign from the council one by one.

Companies like Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Campbell Soup and hundreds of businesses, have all addressed the effects of climate change. Sticking with the Paris Climate Agreement and its commitment to reduce carbon emissions is the only way to go.

Under Obama’s administration, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan was signed. Companies went further to fight climate change as it was the only way to preserve the future of the companies, customers, consumers and the world. To remain in the Paris Agreement and follow low-carbon policies and invest in a low-carbon economy is important, especially for those companies that have strong consumer brands.

This has led China and the EU to forge a green alliance to combat climate change. A summit of EU leaders and the Chinese’s premier, Li Keqiang has already taken place. Not only will the two sides work closely but they also agreed to help the world’s poorest countries to develop green economies.

The White House is divided on this matter but that is no longer a concern of the EU and China, as they’ve decided to proceed without the U.S.

147 nations have ratified the deal, but the departure of the U.S. may weaken the agreement, for example, Russia and India would have their own considerations now. With the U.S. out, Saudi Arabia, with its fossil fuel economy had been reluctant to sign the Paris Accord, and now would take this as a godsend, and quit as well…

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THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH: THE METEORIC RISE OF ALIBABA

By Terri Fisher

The name’s Ma, Jack Ma. And in case you haven’t heard, his conglomeration of successful internet-based ventures has now amassed a net worth topping 286 billion U.S. dollars! Ma is the Chinese business magnate who is the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, one of China’s largest internet companies and its largest online shopping website.

And while the biography of this man and his accomplishments, and well, global domination is indeed riveting, the true essence of the story may lie in Ma himself and his simple vision that one day people will remember him above all else as a “Tai Chi master” – or that during the initial public offering of his company on the NY Stock Exchange, instead of the usual executive-laden contingent of triumphant bell ringers, Ma brought a group of ordinary, everyday customers from China – or, the fact that his inspiration lies in the beloved character of Forest Gump – or, for the creed he has solemnly pledged that Alibaba would always stay true to its core principle of “putting customers before shareholders” – or that, while no longer the CEO, he continues to be revered as the “Spiritual Leader” of Alibaba.

Jack Ma was born on September 10, 1964 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China. After being introduced to the English language at an early age, he practiced it daily by conversing with English-speakers at the Hangzhou Hotel, a 40-minute bike ride from his home. The young Ma would give them tours around the city for free to improve his English. He did this for nine years but then struggled to attend college. The Chinese entrance exams are held only once a year and it took Ma four years to pass. After that, he attended Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute, currently known as Hangzhou Normal University, as head of the student council, and proudly graduated in 1988 with a B.A. in English. Ma met his wife, Zhang Ying there and they married shortly after graduating. Both began working as teachers. He later enrolled at the Beijing- based Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB) and graduated in 2006.

In the manner of many struggling prodigies, the early part of Jack Ma’s career was marked by rejection. He applied for 30 different jobs and got rejected by all, including Kentucky Fried Chicken. In early 1995, he went to the U.S. and with his friends’ help he got introduced to the INTERNET — and everything changed! A void of useful information about China led Ma, his wife and a friend to launch their first business, creating websites for companies. Within three years, his company, named “China Yellow Pages,” had made 5,000,000 Chinese Yuan, equivalent to $800,000 USD. All this, even though he never actually acquired a computer of his own until the age of 33!

And so it was Jack Ma’s English-speaking abilities that allowed him, a Chinese citizen, to visit the U.S., discover the power and potential of e-commerce, and to bring that germ of an idea back to China: a virgin land ripe for the advantages that internet- based commerce could provide. Ma returned to Hangzhou in 1999 and, in his apartment with a group of 18 friends, founded ALIBABA, a China-based business-to- business marketplace site…

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