A STRATEGY FOR MARKETING LOS ANGELES
& CALIFORNIA FASHION FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
With continued growth in the importance of private label sourcing for retailers and catalogues, more and more merchants from the international business community come to this city for information on the newest styles and methods of production. According to The Fashion District BID, attendance and traffic continues to increase. More than 30,000 buyers traveled to Los Angeles in 2012, with an additional 15,000 visits periodically throughout the year by those buyers in the surrounding 200 mile radius.
The strength of the industry is also reflected in the two bi-annual International Textile Shows at the California Market Center. Over 800 textile lines display their wares with more than 10,000 designers and private label sourcing agents registering.
With retail buyers and sourcing agents from around the globe coming to Los Angeles several times each year to place orders, Los Angeles gains millions of dollars in associated business revenue. It is estimated that these out-of-town visitors add at least $40 million to the hospitality industry’s hotels and restaurants - just from the apparel industry.
Clearly, there is a significant change in the structure of the manufacturing process. Downward pricing pressures from the nation’s retailers have created a migration in the area of direct sewing labor. State and Federal restrictions and regulations have also contributed to the local manufacturers’ decisions not to maintain and operate factories; the contractor base has definitely been adversely affected by this trend.
Even with the use of off-shore facilities by local industry participants, Los Angeles apparel industry employment remains stronger than the general employment trends for manufacturing, as a whole. Garment sewing is just one aspect of the total industry. Our competitive advantage is clearly in other facets of this ever-changing triangle involving suppliers, manufacturers, and retailers.
However, garment sewing is just one aspect of the total industry. Our competitive advantage is clearly in other facets of this ever-changing triangle involving suppliers, manufacturers, and retailers:
A) Our global image as the ‘lifestyle capital of the world’…..
Television and movies thrive on this fixation with the California way of life. Los Angeles is the quintessence of California to most of the world. It is the “Created in California’, ‘Hollywood’ and ‘Los Angeles’ environment which beckons those who wish to create a brand identity or a lifestyle look.
Major manufacturing entities from other states as other countries are opening ‘Research and Development’ offices, utilizing advanced computer technologies and creating a highly skilled technical work force to translate the concepts developed toward their own place of manufacturing.
The goal for the Los Angeles apparel manufacturing community should be to position itself as the world’s most comprehensive fashion-sourcing destination.
B) The design-base community finds its inspiration clustered in the Los Angeles area…
The need for constantly changing fashion ideas accentuates our strength in the areas of technology information services and specialized learning centers. Commodity clothes such as socks, underwear and T Shirts are manufactured more cheaply elsewhere. However, we have a growing labor pool of textile chemists, textile designers, fashion merchandisers, computer technicians, computerized cutting services, etc.
Los Angeles’ strong educational component keeps a steady flow of designers and technicians introducing their creative ingenuity into this fertile market place. Institutions such as Los Angeles Trade Technical College, Fashion Institute of Design, plus other community and private design schools, all have programs to assist students to gain entry into this industry.
C) Just-in-Time Deliveries….
Our strength as vertical producers with a local contracting base lies with those products which require proximity to current fashion designs as well as flexibility in size of the contracted ‘lots’. The higher the price of a garment and the more fashion-forward the styling, the smaller the size of the contract for sewing. These specialized and highly-skilled contracting operations are the basis of our competitive advantage throughout the United States, and constitute the most permanent part of our manufacturing work force…and the most entrepreneurial.
D) Geographical location; a conduit to the Pacific Rim and the Southern Hemisphere.
Both government officials and export professionals are encouraging manufacturers to make the leap from passive exporting to actively pursuing international business. At the same time, the Los Angeles apparel industry has scarcely tapped its export potential.
To enhance the positive positioning described above, our defined opportunities are to:
Market the “Created in California” image globally… with a “Made in California (or “Made in USA”) presence at national and international trade expositions.
- Information and education for the Los Angeles manufacturing community about export development.
- Access to financing for new equipment, business expansion, export development.
“MADE IN L.A.”
Jobs…jobs….jobs….that is the mantra of every legislative body, local and federal.
Research has shown that we could easily bring 12 – 15% of our product base BACK to local manufacturing. What is needed:
- A “where to”…source for contractors, printers, textiles, finishing, mechanics, patternmakers, designers, etc.
- A marketing program and outreach to the trade that this service is available.
- A team of professionals speaking to the high school students discussing career opportunities in an industry where “everyone starts at the bottom”!