Prelude to the World Trade Agreements
by Andrew Sia

Trade is a commercial behavior that began with the dawn of civilization and, given human nature, trade and war seem to go hand in hand. It starts with one group wanting what another group has, and is unwilling to share. Best case scenario, it ends with both sides sitting down to work out an agreement that often includes the opening up of trade, compensation and/or reparations, with reallocation of land and resources. This is a cycle that is as true today as generations past.

It has been the interest of our publication to feature reports on the latest trade topics, especially when the Trans-Pacific Agreement (on a scale we have never seen before,) was discussed among the 12 nations.

Starting with the January 2016 issue, we have featured reports on a number of global trade agreements, as follows:

January 2016

• Insight into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

April 2016

• Trade Pact: Everything you need to know about the WTO
o Brought out China’s market economy status (MES,) which has still not been resolved

July 2016

• Narratives of the World Trade Agreement (WTO)
o WTO came from General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade (GATT) o Bretton Wood Institute
o International Trade Organization (ITO)
o Doha Development Round launched in November 2001

October 2016

• Trade Pact: Aspects of the Different Free Trade Agreements (Part 1)
o North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
o Dominican Republic Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) o Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)

January 2017

• Trade Pact: Aspects of the Different Free Trade Agreements (Part 2)
o Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)
o Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TIPP)
o Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and EU
o Region Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

April 2017

• Trade Pacts: New Developments and New Challenges
o Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
o Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) o North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
o World Economic Forum at Davos

July 2017

• World Trade in Turmoil
o Union of South American Nations (USAN) o Mercosur – Southern Common Market
o Andean Community
o Latest Developments of TPP

In this issue, we are featuring agreements that were introduced prior to the major trade agreements of today, and we’re going to start over 70 years ago, at the end of WWII, when Europe was almost destroyed. What followed in 1948 was the Marshall Plan.

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European Athleisure Market Scene
by Simone Gerschitzka

The excitement buzzing around major sports events is rich with opportunities for fashionistas and companies alike. Merchandising, broadcasting rights, clothing lines, fitness – the athleisure and sport economy is all around us. For now, it seems athleisure is the new black. Apparently, the term “athleisure” was first used in 1976 on an advertisement for trainers. So let us explore this a little further.

The athleisure industry is booming, and experts believe it will continue to thrive for years to come. Given the slow growth affecting many sectors, this broad-spectrum market – ranging from sport entertainment to everyday physical exercise and urban streetwear – deserves attention, from the fashion-conscious consumer and – yes, from investors alike.

The graph above shows the approximate rise of sales worldwide, in which Europe is included, of course.

The “athleisure syndrome” draws on the widespread popularity of all forms of physical exercise. Fitness clubs and equipment and clothing manufacturers are enjoying good times, as are the brands that sell wearable technology to monitor performance. More than one in three sport enthusiasts is reported to use this type of device. Dress codes have also been swept up in the momentum, and not just in the shoe department. People in Europe are wearing Adidas, Nike, Under Armour, Puma, Tchibo, Lucas Hugh, and Fila, sporty looking athleisure clothing, from morning till late, to the office, restaurant, out on the town, window shopping – this trend is everywhere…

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REPORTS OF THE INTERNATIONAL TECHNOLOGY TRADE SHOWS
by Andrew Sia

Introduction

In this issue, we have reports of the trade shows that have recently taken place. These are international trade shows attracting key industry players, and providing a showcase for our unique business in lingerie and textiles.

• Interfiliere in Paris (July) – by Simone Gerschitzka
• CurveNY: Part 1 – The Colombia Lingerie Brands (August) – by Camille Block
• CurveNY: Part 2 – The Selected Bra Collections – by Camille Block
• Magic Sourcing 2017 in Las Vegas (August): The Colombia Textile Mills – by Andrew Sia

At this juncture, I would like to give special credit to the trade show organizer, Eurovet with headquarters in Paris. For many years, Eurovet has actively encouraged the modernization of the industry, identified the needs of the different market segments, and organized the common ground for the global players.

With the exception of CurveNY in August, which was a show for lingerie, all the other shows were dedicated to the supply chain for fabrics and trims. I consider fabrics and trims to be the backbone of our industry, this from someone who came from the supply side. It is very important to participate in the tradeshows; there is so much to learn, and many opportunities to interact when all the major players come together.

Innovation, development, design and supply are the four key elements. The global slowdown due to the economy, the contraction of consumer spending, and the price war between traditional retailers and their online competition – know that, without any of these challenges, the market can be quite monotonous.

I hope you find the reports that follow most interesting…

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THE AMAZON BEST SIZE GUIDE
by David Morris

IA Technical are interested in the app that the American Amazon site offers to their customers, and suggest that you take an opportunity to investigate the system they suggest to their customers for a recommended bra size solution.

The second page of the app asks for the band size and the cup size normally worn, and a preferred Brand.

IA Technical itemised a 32F bra size Freya Brand.

The app then asks the user to identify their body shape from the thee photographs displayed. This would be used to understand the body fat coverage of the user and the quality of the fit.

The tension of the band the is considered by the pressure on the two fingers…

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Blockchain Disrupts the Fashion Industry by Susanna Koelblin

There’s no denying it, the fashion and retail world will become one with technology. The line between these two industries is blurring and is reflected in trends such
as chatbots, change in the Brick and Mortar structures, virtual realities, artificial intelligence, robots, 3D printing, Internet of Things and blockchain.

One of the most cutting-edge developments is the incorporation of blockchain technology. Blockchain is a global online database that anyone with an internet connection can use, but it doesn’t belong to anyone.

Block What?

A blockchain is a distributed database maintaining a constantly-growing list of data records secured from tampering and revision. The data are recorded in a blocks structure, with each block holding batches of individual transactions. Meaning the database is secure, open, auditable and what makes it unique is that it runs without a single centralized operator. The defining feature of a blockchain is that it cannot be modified by any party, it is coded in a way that prevents fudging the data, whether that data is bitcoin quantities or the origin of a piece of clothing. That means information can be transmitted through huge networks, such as supply chains, and be added to by users on those networks without compromising security.

Conceived in 2008, it is mostly used in the banking sector for the moment, because the technology easily helps tracing transactions and it happens to be the main technical innovation of the bitcoin. The idea was to create a decentralized digital property that keeps track of who owns what. Today it is not bitcoin, but blockchain that everyone is buzzing about…

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Book Review: An Intimate Affair by Jill Fields
by Andrew Sia

I’ve had this book in my possession for a little while now. According to the author, the book began as a research paper while she was a graduate student at the University of Southern California. The paper further developed into her doctoral thesis although she didn’t enter graduate school with the idea of the book in mind. Obviously one thing led to another and her papers were published as this book.

The book presents the history of intimate apparel during the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in New York City. The writer closes the book at the end of the twentieth century. This industry really has come a long way.

The history of undergarments, whether cotton underwear, silk lingerie, or foundation garments with elastic straps and metal hooks, needs to be understood in relation to social and economic changes, such as the increasing rationalization of work and leisure and transformations in the shaping, conceptualization, and representation of the female body.

Per the author, an article in a 1921 trade journal used the term intimate apparel when referring to a set of undergarments. This is the earliest reference to the term that one can find.

The interpretive framework and historical understanding the writer presents draw upon a range of methodologies and disciplines, including costume and art history, literary and film criticism, and scientific analysis.

The relationship between fashion and eroticism, fetishism, seduction, modernity, and identity are all important components of the industry’s trajectory, and help lead us to an understanding of its history….

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Country Report: Mexico
by Andrew Sia

Mexico has been on President Trump’s hit list with his threat to build a wall between the country and the U.S. He also promised to dismantle NAFTA in an effort to protect U.S. workers. These promises, which were first made during his presidential campaign, are now facing challenges from within his own party, not to mention from Democrats.

I thought it would be good to feature Mexico in our next report as it’s one of the most important production bases in Latin America. I still consider it one of the better countries to carry out apparel production and certainly intimate apparel is one category where the skills needed to produce could be found here.

Introduction:
Brief history

Mexico was a site of advanced civilizations. The Mayans, who were agricultural people, moved up from the Yucatan and built huge stone pyramids and invented the Mayan calendar.

Mexico was inhabited by many of the Mesoamerican civilizations such as the Olmec, Toltec, Teotihuacan, Zapotec, Maya and Aztec before the arrival of the Europeans.

  • The earliest human artifacts are chips of stone tools found near campfire remains in the Valley of Mexico, which were radiocarbon-dated to circa 10,000 years ago.
  • In 5000 BC an agricultural society began that supplemented hunting.
  • Around 1500 BC, the earliest civilization in Mexico was the Olmec culture. The Olmec culture spread throughout Mexico into other formative-era cultures such as Chiapas, Oaxaca and the Valley of Mexico. This included the spread of distinct religious and symbolic traditions, and also artistic and architectural complexes. This formative era of Mesoamerica is considered one of the six independent cradles of civilization.
  • During the post-classic period, circa 1000-1519 AD Central Mexico was dominated by the Toltec culture.
  • The Aztec empire did not exert supreme authority over conquered lands. It built a tributary empire covering most of central Mexico and received tributes from the others. The Aztec were noted for practicing human sacrifice on a large scale but avoided killing enemies on the battlefield. This ended with the Spanish conquest in the 16th century.
  • The Spanish first learned of Mexico during Juan de Grijalva’s expedition in 1518. The Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire began in February 1519 when Hernán Cortés arrived at the port of Veracruz with 500 conquistadores. After gaining control of the city he moved to the Aztec capital in search of gold and later decided to conquer the Aztec empire.
  • The Spaniards arrived and brought the first smallpox epidemic, which killed the Aztec king and 3 million natives. The Spaniards were spared as they had been exposed to the disease for centuries and had developed immunity to it.
  • The Aztecs began to believe the epidemic was a punishment from an angry god. This led them to accept their fate and they no longer resisted the invaders. Their belief in the “superiority” of the Christian god resulted in the Aztecs accepting Catholicism and yielding to Spanish rule throughout Mexico…

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INTRODUCING THE CIMT IN THE HONG KONG DESIGN INSTITUTE
by ANDREW SIA

“Materialize Your Idea!” is the mantra of the recently established Centre of Innovative Material and Technology (CIMT) at the Hong Kong Design Institute, a material resources interactive learning platform that makes a difference.

The fast-growing material industry has resulted in a huge variety of material choices. Apart from conventional materials, there are more innovative, lesser known materials available in the market with great potential for design and innovative use. Many material producers have reflected that the knowledge of materials is often transferred incorrectly to the users, resulting in excessive or improper usage due to a lack of understanding.

At present, there are limited systematic material libraries or material centers in Hong Kong that can house a broad collection of design materials and relevant information. Local students and designers often acquire news and inventions of material from trade shows, trend forecasting services and magazines, fabric suppliers, etc. However, most of these sources are specialized for a limited number of stakeholders and they are not systematically centralized, time-wise and location-wise.

The CIMT was established to serve all design disciplines from interior design/ construction materials to advanced fabrics, allowing interdisciplinary design activities and knowledge exchange through multi-material applications. The official opening took place on April 7, 2017, with a mission to serve as a platform for knowledge exchange for design, innovative processes and materiality. The CIMT is dedicated to higher education and creative professionals, allowing students, teachers, alumni, design practitioners and other materials users to review state-of-the-art resources, putting the latest and most exclusive materials at their fingertips…

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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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