CUSTOMERS WANT TO KNOW

Paul Fogleman,

Textile industry executives and marketing specialists at the recent gathering of the Synthetic Yarn and Fiber Association (SYFA) were advised that transparency” and sustainability are driving sales in the current environment.

As science becomes the driving force in textiles—including hosiery—manufacturers will be pressured to undertake new initiatives such as Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) to disclose chemicals and processes integrated in production. The customer wants to know, speakers advised.

Among the speakers was Shelly Martin, sustainability analyst and training manager for Earthshift, who produced a cycle leading from evaluating ideas, refining concepts and pursuing opportunities in the roll out of products. The LCA follows with the goal of “reaching the millenials who want transparency in the benefits and features of the product.

A similar message came from James Ewell, sustainable materials program director for GreenBlue.The demand for transparency comes from consumers who want more information about the products they buy. With associations and coalitions involved in the response, there is a “confusing landscape” for manufacturers, Ewell asserted.

MARCH OF THE ROBOTS

Yes, apparel and textiles manufacturing is returning to the United States. But manufacturers are operating in a climate much different from that 15 years ago when so much production moved offshore. An aging workforce, demand for customization, rising wages, skyrocketing costs: enter the robots.

William Lockhart, senior vice president of Softwear Automation, told the SYFA audience in Charlotte this month that robotics are entering businesses of all sizes, especially cut-and-sew apparel plants. Companies such as Softwear Automation are available to design and set up robotic operations for specific tasks. Lockhart discussed examples of problems solved with robotic operations resulting in less waste and more efficiency. He noted a major benefit as well: work 24 hours, seven days a week and no overtime.

SHIFTING SANDS OF N.C. TAXES

North Carolina legislators are hearing from their constituents about taxes and a flurry of new bills have been introduced to mend relations. But in any case, it appears the consumers will be paying more—through higher sales taxes or less exemptions. Two initiatives are driving the movement—eliminating or reducing point-of-sale sales taxes and redistribution to rural areas, and reaction to higher state income taxes paid by middle class families as a result of lost exemptions.

Appropriations and finance committees in the House and Senate have not addressed budget issues yet, waiting for April tax collection figures.

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