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Strongest Team Always Starts With The Farmer

By Jeff Streader
Apparel Industry Supply Chain Leader
Manhattan Beach, Calif.
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The Journey

Jeff StreaderIn the 30 years that I have been in the apparel industry – working for companies such as Guess, Inc.; Kellwood Co.; VF Corp.; Fasturn Inc.; and Oxford Industries – we have lived through numerous transformations. The epicenter of the apparel industry has morphed several times, moving from the southeast United States to Latin America and the Caribbean to northeast Asia, finally settling in China. The journey has included empires rising and the unthinkable collapse of former giants.

Lessons were learned the hard way, with operational “short cuts” leading to product failures and quality issues. Today, it is clearly understood that the formula for success must include building an end-to-end supply chain, beginning with cotton farmers.

Supply Chain Squeeze

As a brand and garment manufacturer, our primary relationships were with our contractors and textile mill suppliers. The indirect supply chain was secondary.

Despite inflation, retail price points for apparel dropped continually over the past decade. This led to enormous cost pressures on our suppliers, which, in turn, squeezed their supply chain. Our quality was beginning to decline.

Better Garments Require Better Cotton

We increased our manufacturing teams in the field. We added to our color labs, testing teams and quality assurance teams and worked diligently with the garment factories and mills. It became obvious that the formula for success had to start with the best possible cotton in the world. Today, the leading brands and manufacturers have internal R&D teams. This extends our supply chain “upstream” beyond our previous suppliers. FiberMax cotton is clearly the choice of the leading brands. World-class, high-quality cotton is the foundation for our platform. FiberMax and its farmer suppliers are on the team of the leading brands and manufacturers.

From Fiber To Fabric

 

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