JULY 2018

GREAT NEWS FOR OUR ENVIRONMENT

by Frances Harder

Don’t know about you but I have been very concerned about the plastic waste that is dumped in the ocean, the landfills, or shipped to other countries to dispose of our waste. Additionally, after years of sending boat loads of our garbage overseas to other countries to dispose of the China have recently said “NO” to accepting any more shipments of our trash! They have been taking half the Worlds plastic waste for years.  But Germany has been shipping three quarters of their plastic waste to China. Maybe this will motivate their brilliant engineers to invent/create a solution for this catastrophic global situation.

Every day we all have contact with thousands of different forms of plastics uses, from plastic wrappers, containers, toys, bottles, straws, etc.….. So, what to do about this global crisis that we have created for ourselves? Well, I was very interested to read in this week’s Economist that John McGeehan of the University of Portsmouth in Britain, and his colleagues have reported details of the discovery of a bacterial enzyme called “PETASE” that can break down polyethylene terephthalate (PET) used in the production of plastic bottle.  They have engineered a version of the enzyme that can digest plastic faster than any natural variety. The report is published in “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”. This plastic munching bacteria called “Ideonella sakaiesis 201-F6” was discovered in 2016 at a PET-bottle recycling plant in Sakai, Japan.  This is all in the very early stages and still lots more research is needed but it does, thankfully shine a hopeful spot light on this whole global plastic waste crisis. If they can surmount the development for industrial use PETASE might begin to make a dent in the alarming situation the world is in with all our plastic waste.

We must also do our part by becoming more sensitive to the over use of plastics and its eventual disposal. Many of us are beginning to wake up to this global catastrophe.  One of the first things when out eating and drinking is to ask your server not to give you a plastic straw. Billions of straws are produced yearly, which often unfortunately end up in the ocean where they all too often get caught in turtle’s noses or blocking their stomach. If you want a straw, ask for a paper one or buy your own metal straw and carry it with you. We recently returned from Maui where we are fortunate to travel often to visit our son who works there. There are so many wonderful turtles there to watch and enjoy but unfortunately, we see far too many who have been injured by the plastic in the oceans. Many of these injured turtles and sea life are often found on the beaches, or in some cases in the ocean in crisis. Some are fortunate to be rescued by volunteers and then operated on to clear their mouths, noses and insides from the pollution of plastic waste in the oceans. But unfortunately for many sea creatures it is all to often too late!

The plastic waste and the consequences of all this waste in the ocean is not all visible to our eyes but the damage to the sea life is obvious. Fine plastic particles are also causing imbalances in our oceans.  Synthetic fiber particles from some synthetic fabrics that when washed begin to break down in the water.  Plus, plastic particles from beauty products such as shampoos that have been made to incorporate these plastic particles to help clean our hair. Then, skin care products are also guilty of incorporating plastic particles in face cleaners etc.   So, if we can begin the cleanup process using this promising newly discovered enzyme, plus get more serious about recycling plastic into other products like roof tiles and synthetic wood before it is too late to repair the damage done to our amazing planet that would give us hope for the future. It’s imperative that we stop the stream of plastic waste filling the global landfills and our oceans.    

As I am writing this article for apparel related professionals who for the most part are aware of these issues. It is my hope that we can work together to help alleviate some of the industry pollution issues. The clothing industry is a guilty polluter of our environment and we should begin a serious dialogue to address, and to find solutions to solving the plastic waste, pollution of the ocean and the overproduction of clothing.

I am a hopeful observer of the millennials who I feel are already making an impact on changing some of this bleak issue. Like the Baby Boomers, who were responsible for many positive changes after the second World, the millenniums have begun to make positive changes to the 21st century.  Sustainability, responsible sustainable production methods, upcycling and recycling is something the millenniums seem to be very much involved with and actively creating a positive global impact.


 

MARCH 2018

Knickers, Panties or Thongs?

 Whatever the choice there appears to be a technical problem that could be improved upon.

By Frances Harder


As a designer and a technical apparel professional who is also an avid workout person I am regularly exposed to looking at women’s rear-ends. Sometimes professionally and other times because I have no choice I have come to realize there is room for improvements in the undergarments we choose to wear. Additionally, with the “Athleisure” clothing trend where women are wearing workout gear all day and that workout gear typically involves tight leggings, which often leaves NOTHING much to anyone’s imagination. Unless they are wearing a long top to cover up their hips and butts. Plus, all too often what is worn under the skin-tight and sometimes too thin fabric that has been made into leggings will stretch so much that it exposes skin, or details as to what undies (knickers, panties or thongs) are worn under the leggings.

 

I should define these three types of undies: I am a Brit, so I use the term “Knickers” as underwear.

 

  •       Knickers: - North American meaning - loose-fitting trousers gathered at the knee or calf.  British meaning: - a woman's or girl's underpants that usually is a higher cut and fit.
  •      Panties: - Legless underpants worn by women and girls that usually finish around the lower hips
  •      Thong: - Australian meaning-  another term for flip-flop.  North American meaning - a skimpy bikini bottom, or pair of underpants like a G-string. “Skimpy” being the main description for this type of undies.

 

It seems to me as technical designer that there is a need for improvement for these female undergarments. That need could be a good market niche for anyone wanting to enter this exciting industry.  What we choose to wear for undies should be comfortable but also should not be a point of focus when out and about wearing trending Athleisure garments. Not only for the wearer but also for the rest of us who are exposed to looking at other women’s butts when spinning or doing Yoga at the gym, or on a walk or hike.

 

For the most part the most obvious need for improvement is the rear-end focal point seam across the back portion of the pantie, which attaches the main body portion of the knickers/panties to the crotch portion. Obviously, thongs have no seam but can often be identified on the wearer through the tightness of the leggings. By including circular knitting and the use of other modern construction methods such as tape and bonding, plus incorporating some of the wonderful high-tech fabrics I think we could create a better fitting undergarment. We also now have the evolving three D printing process, which is getting better and better. I am convinced that soon the material choices available will really revolutionize the world of fashion. Additionally, make sure that the fabric weight chosen for leggings are produced from a thicker weight fabric! Or purchase leggings that are the right size!

FEBRUARY 2018

Smart Production & Smart Clothing 

by Frances Harder

Over the past few years the clothing industry has and continues to rapidly evolve in many new exciting directions! Smart production, custom made to measure clothing, smart textiles that can be made from things like fermented wine and coconuts! What does all this new technology mean? The next generation of clothing goes way beyond wearables and may change, or even save lives. Equally important are the new ways that clothing is being produced, which is also going through massive technological upgrades with robots and single layered cutting for mass customization of individually made to measure clothing. T-shirts made from 6 recycled plastic bottles blended with cotton.

This new exciting breed of technology is much more than just monitoring how many steps you’ve taken or your heart rate. The big difference between smart clothing and traditional apparel is integrated technology such as sensors that are embedded into the fabric to “read” your body. Smart clothes can connect you to technology from head to toe and enable everything from paying for your morning coffee, tracking DNA for purity of fibers, playing music to mapping travel routes. RFID threads are now used to track garments and even clothing that will monitor your moods, your heart and emotions. Or, even including bras that can automatically adjust to support under different situations.

Here are a few other fashion brands that are leading the smart way:

Google & Levi’s Trucker Jacket with Smart Touch

What happens when 150 years of Levi’s denim innovation meets Google engineering? A groundbreaking garment called Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket. The cuff of the left sleeve is made of a slightly different denim material that’s been specially woven with conductive Touch-sensitive Jacquard Thread, which allows the sleeve to act as an interactive touchpad for the jacket. The jacket connects to a mobile device via Bluetooth technology. With a tap or brush of the sleeve cuff, you can control music, screen phone calls, get directions and more.

Nadi X Vibrating & Virtual Yoga Pants

The Sydney-based startup Wearable X’s Nadi X pants have woven-in technology with sensors that provide gentle vibrations at the hips, knees and ankles to encourage you to move and/or hold positions for an easier yoga workout. The sensors sync up via Bluetooth to your phone and through the companion app, which gives you additional feedback.

Under Armour’s Smart Sleepwear & Shoes

Under Armour recently unveiled “smart sleepwear,” which the company claims help athletes “to rest, win and repeat.” This Athlete Recovery Sleepwear has an infrared pattern inside the clothing to absorb infrared wavelengths and reduce inflammation while an athlete is sleeping, aiding in recovery time. Under Armour has also launched two new pairs of connected running shoes with embedded sensors in the foam soles that can track key statistics such as distance, slide, length and cadence.

Stella McCartney has created custom garments from 3D printers. This method is being refined with new finer fibers that react more like traditional textiles. I feel this eventually will be a total game changing method of producing clothing. Maybe one day we will have the ability to create and print garments from our own home!

 

Smart production and clothing presents new avenues for smart retailers and brands to drive greater sales, and it really can supercharge the fashion business. Additionally, with the apparel, footwear and accessories industries having connected devices built into their products, brands can analyze customers’ habits and then optimize marketing outreach. It can also create a unique experience for the wearer that has never been available before.

Another exciting part to this story is that there are now major investments being made into US production. This is creating new jobs and requiring new training and job descriptions. All good!!

At this ground-breaking time in our industry Fashion For Profit Global Platform will be assisting our members connect resources, evolve, educate, market internationally and match international universities to provide more updated education/training for students and to our new high-tech Global industry on our exciting worldwide platform
  • 12/24/2017 6:46 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Understanding what you need to know when sourcing is THE key to successful sourcing

    By Frances Harder

    When you start your design process you will usually start with an idea then you will look for fabrics and trims. This is the beginning of what we term as sourcing. Sourcing is part of the whole production process and having a clear understanding of what you are looking for is critical to your energy output and your wallet output. So, knowing what is involved and educating yourself on your options will be your first important step in the sourcing process. If you start off not knowing what you want then don’t expect to get what you want!

    So, what are the most important factors for your supply chain strategy?

    • Price – Before you begin to source you must have a clear market research idea as to the price point your goods will sell for. This will then determine all that you source.

    • Speed to Market – With the stores and online selling speed to market is the key to selling direct to customers, or to bricks and mortar stores.

    • Location for logistical or practical purposes – Important to understand you will need to monitor your sampling and then production so where it is made will be important to your own logistics. It will also be important for speed to market purposes.

    • Extra value offered by the factory or Company – Do they have technical or design skills to help you develop your line?

    • Quality – Check the other goods they produce to make sure they are made to your own quality specifications! Know what you want!!

    • Social Compliance & Workers Safety – If they are domestic they will need to provide you with their compliance documentation. Particularly if they are located in California or New York. If they manufacture off shore you will need to find out if they are certified. If possible, it is much better to visit any potential factory and check them out

    • Free trade or will there be duty to pay? – Presently there are free trade agreements with certain countries. US Trade and Commerce can help with this information.

    • Stability of the country of origin - Use your commonsense when considering countries to produce your goods. Check with the US Trade and Commerce

    • Payment Agreement on Samples - Often you will be required to pay for any sampling and fright. Then if you decide to go into production with the factory who did your samples they will often discount sample costs.

    • Inspection Requirements –Important that either yourself or you hire an independent agent to inspect any production before it is shipped or you could be dealing with a warehouse full of goods that can’t be sold or you have to hire help to correct any errors.
    Make sure you are comparing apples to apples!
    Usually you will have produced your first sample and done some cost analysis. You may already have your fabric sourced but looking for production sourcing. Or, you maybe sourcing both fabrics and production. If so you should have your first samples technical requirements and a basic Tech Packs that have details about your product. If you have already chosen your fabrics, or know what you are looking for then it will important to make sure you are comparing:
    • Same Weight of Fabric & Trims
    • Same Construction and Sewing
    • Same Specs and Finishes
    What is a Tech Pack? - Information needed for consistent pricing, production process including sizing and delivery
    • Fabric weight and fiber content
    • Trim Details with specifications, including buttons, zippers, embroidery stitches, labels, Hang tags
    • Sewing Details
    • Packing Details
    • Size specs graded and size range defined
    • Chemicals applications and washes to apply including the standards
    • Packaging details

    Important to note that the more requirements and tests needed, the higher the garment cost!

    Terms & Duty Rates

    • FOB – Freight on Board (Where do you take possession of the Merchandise)
    • LDP – Landed Duty Paid
    • DDP – Duty Delivered Paid
    • Duty Rates by Category
    • Duty Rates by fabric classification
    • Duty Free agreements with specific Rules of eligibility

    Check List: What to Look for in a Factory

    • Social Certifications
    • Factory overall capacity for new customers
    • Minimum orders by fabric, color and style
    • Location – country and distance to port
    • How long has the company been in business?
    • Past and present customers with similar products
    • In house facilities and where is their outsourcing done? Printing, embroidery, washing, dying etc. Need to make sure they are working with compliant subcontractors.
    • Average turn time for specific styles after all approvals
    • Inventory of their equipment and maintenance schedules
    • In house auditors, auditing procedures and records of audits
    • Technical staff available for assistance
    Communication
    Do they write or speak English? Do they have a complete understanding of your questions or comments? – If they don’t understand you when you are talking with them at a sourcing trade show then how are you going to communicate with them?
    • What Work in Progress (W.I.P) reports will they provide?
    • Response time?
    • Sample quality – any issues due to poor communication skills
    Final Word of Caution
    Please make time to check credentials and get references so you can get reliable feedback on the people, consultants or companies you are sourcing from!


  • 12/10/2017 7:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Frances Harder

    Please let me know who thinks this outfit featured in this weeks Apparel News.  If you would wear the road kill vest and the homeless distressed jeans?


  • 11/18/2017 7:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Frances Harder

    Most of us have been guilty of doing it! It almost comes more natural for us to say negative things about other people and sow bad seeds than to say positive and good things. The damage a few negative comments can make can destroy, or cause such waves of negative repercussions and damage that some people may have their personnel lives, and, or their careers permanently damaged. A few ill-chosen words to the wrong person who is then willing to pass on negative information to others can have devastating long term consequences.

    Especially in today’s toxic political environment, negative news and gossip fills the news channels and newspapers, feeding in to our lust for negative news and at the same time it stirs up anger and division within our society. I have never personally experienced such wide spread division both within the United States but also around the world.  It has reached a point here in the States that we are now at a stage where we are talking about a war with North Korea, which is terrifying to consider a third world war that could end the World as we know it. A possible war that is being built on negative actions instead of positive discussions. Discussions that instead of stirring up anger and mistrust could find solutions to smooth the unrest that seems to be permeating the world.

    Like most of us I have personally been the recipient of malicious gossip, which has eventually gotten back to me. It has been particularly vicious over the past few years since founding the Fashion Business Incorporated and this maliciousness has come mostly from the same source. I have constantly tried to ignore these attacks that many of my friends and associates have fed back to me because they felt I should be aware of these attacks. At times, I have been able to observe this person’s behavior when talking of others and it has been a real learning experience witnessing the negative outlook that they have on other people and situations. The old saying of “if you can’t say anything nice about a person then don’t say it” is so very true.  However, the good news is that I can console myself knowing that I am not alone and that many others get the same treatment from the same individual.  Just don’t leave the room before them!!:)

    We are all guilty, both men and women of talking about other people and putting a negative spin on gossip. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could just think first about the impact of sowing a bad thought and try and curb our natural human instincts, and work harder to sow good positive thoughts and healthy seeds. Like gardening, sowing good seeds will reward us with positive and worthwhile fruitful relationships.  I feel very fortunate to have a wonderful family, good friends and work associates. I think I have worked hard to nourish these relationships. I continue to learn and try to think before planting any bad seeds, or passing on gossip that is negative and harmful. Good thoughts and deeds do reward us eventually.

  • 11/15/2017 7:46 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Frances Harder

    It seems they all HAVE to wear the “Uniform of the Sleeveless, Short Skirted Dresses”!! And the men with their pathetic tie, the only symbol to differentiate themselves from the next guy!! – Again, I just don’t get it!!

    Why is it that every time I turn on the TV there is a female announcer, or a female expert being interviewed wearing a sleeveless dress sitting on a high chair with a short skirt that exposes most of their upper parts of their thighs. Then, their male counterpart is dressed in their usual boring dark suit uniforms with their SO exciting red or blue, or maybe a subtle patterned tie. This being sadly their only choice of self-expression. Come on stylist, use some creativity and clothe your clients in clothing that suits their body and personality! Today as never before in the history of fashion women can wear anything that they feel suits their own personality. So why do many of these aging females feel they must all wear this uniform? Unfortunately, the facts on our body are sadly obvious. The first thing to go in the average female is the upper arms, knees and thighs.  So why wear these sleeveless, short dresses when there are other choices that could be just as sexy!  

    It used to be in the 80s and 90s that males would be wearing their usual boring jacket and pants, with the token blue or white shirt, highlighted with the usual colored tie and their female counter parts would be wearing those ugly pant suits. I am guilty and had my own share for pant suits in my wardrobe.  But now that trend has been slowly replaced and females are now wearing the sleeveless sheath dress uniform that also must expose as much of the wearers legs as decently possible while they sit on those high stools! SO SEXY!! But then again maybe a better trend than the pant suit!! However, maybe I should be talking more about changing the poor men’s choices in acceptable attire, or lack thereof! Thankfully, we are seeing men wearing less and less of the two-hundred-year-old tie uniform and opting to wear a button or two open on their shirts! Wow!!!


  • 11/08/2017 7:58 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Frances Harder


    For those of you who know me, then you will know that over my many years in the apparel industry I have worked hard and for the most part enjoyed most of my experiences.  I have been very fortunate to have had some amazing work assignments, and luckily for me I still do. However, I think that knowing me you will also appreciate that I would never accept these many different job opportunities if I did not find them a challenge, and feel confident that I could accomplish the tasks at hand, plus at the same time enjoy them!!

    My latest International invite is from the US government to lecturer on the latest technology uses in the fashion industry to a variety of fashion colleges in Saudi Arabia. The other recent invite is to Shanghai to discuss the possibilities of creating a Fashion Business Inc. (FBI) certified job training program in China. This would mean setting up a licensing agreement with my nonprofit here in the US.  I am also very excited that one of my goals for the past few years will soon become realized and has been approved by the LA school district. The program will help inner city kids understand career opportunities in the apparel industry. The twelve-week program will bring the high school kids to the LA Fashion district and learn from industry professionals about some of the many career choices available.  

    So, who you may ask would ask me these two offensive questions? MEN!!! Do you really think a man would ask these questions to another successful man? But being fair, I have also experienced female nonchalance. But that said I also have some amazing female friends who are incredibly supportive. Some of whom work and others who don’t. I realize I am old enough to retire and knit, or play cards but I happen to LOVE what I do!  I also feel confident enough (I hope) that I have enough time left to still make a difference by helping others. But if not, the fact is that this is my journey and I really wish that others could respect this and do what they wish to do with their lives but PLEASE don’t inflict their views of what I should be doing with their own limited expectations. Please show a little respect!

  • 08/20/2017 6:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Frances Harder

    In the early seventies I found myself living in Munich and without a job. I had accompanied my first husband, an English aircraft engineer who had been offered along with many other British engineers a contract to work on the first Airbus aircraft. And of course when living in Munich, attending the “October Fest” is a must.  I was part of a group attending from the Airbus design team that had been organized for engineers and international partners from Messerschmitt Bulkow Blohm (MBB).  Consequently there was a very large group of mixed nationalities that took a number of table spaces in one of the many huge tents erected for this amazing two week very boozy festival.

    Unbeknown to me and as it turned out very fortunately for me I was seated next to one of the big bosses from the new international project to create this first Airbus. He was a very polite German who made small talk then asked me what I did for a living and I innocently informed him I was a designer, to which he immediately responded “Ve need designers! Can you start on Monday?” To which I replied “YES”!  However, I did somehow neglect to inform him that I was in fact a fashion designer! But I quickly figured out in my head that as I knew most of the drafting equipment used by the drafts people. Plus, I had met a few other “drafts women and men” who had informed me that they were employed to trace over design engineers penciled drafting work, sometimes referred to in the UK as “tracers” and in Germany as “Technical zeichnerin”)  I really did feel confident that I could do the job while learning! (Remember this is before computer generated drawings were created and everything was drafted/drawn on drawing boards.)

    So, sure enough I started work the next week working on the new massive Airbus (A300) for a temporary agency who employed me on an hourly bases. I could be let go with very little notice but was paid very well. I have to admit it was a little stressful the first few weeks trying to create a sense of familiarity with all the terms that went with my new job description.  But, thankfully with the aid and secretive assistance from the many British engineers that were also working there in Munich I managed to master the job and be a fast learner. I really should add here that drafting and pattern drafting is really quite similar. After all where does a button belong on a garment is very similar to where we needed to place a rivet or bolt.  Plus, due to my art degree training I had a good understanding of the use of the radiograph (fast drying ink pen) and the need to be precise and tidy.

    This sometimes boring job was also an amazing life changing experience that I was fortunate enough to work in for four years before taking off for a one year trip around the world. My boss did ask me to stay to take training on the new CAD computer programs, but my new life was calling me and my second and forever husband! 

    Stay tuned for my next networking installment!

  • 03/30/2017 8:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Frances Harder

    This week retail giants Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, among other bricks and mortar stores, plus online stores Belk, Jet and ShopStyle, have decided to drop Ivanka Trump’s brand. How could that possibly be? Well, it could be that Ivanka’s brand was not selling as had hoped combined with our contentious political situation. But maybe we need to ask what happened to the Trump promise to distance himself from any conflict of interest with his own family for profit businesses? It seems clear with this latest set of tweeting that there is a huge conflict of interest?  

    Why, if Ivanka’s brand was selling and making a profit would any store decide to drop it? The retail situation today is grim enough and so if a particular brand is not performing as predicted, then guess what? The stores will decide to drop that brand and replace it with others.  It all boils down to retail Math 101 and the mighty power of the dollar! Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus both claim that the move was prompted by lagging sales, and not the political climate.  

    However, our thin-skinned President could not refrain from tweeting and defending his daughter while lambasting Nordstrom’s decision. For someone who has one HUGE ego and who has proven that he cannot take any form of criticism without a tweet, and given that in the last few weeks of constant spotlights that he would try to learn to be more reflective. How about working on being a little less sensitive to criticism, or at least waiting 24 hours before tweeting to the world. How about taking a breath and try to think things through, and thereby control his quick-tempered emotions? He has no problem going for the jugular on others who he feels has done anything to offend him, or in this case offend his daughter. It could be a good time for him to pick up yoga!

    My advice to Ivanka would be to work on improving her line for next season, which should include investing in producing her line in the US! This would give her brand a real boost, “Proudly Made in the USA”.  Would this decision make her clothing too expensive? Maybe not.  President Trump recently told the New York Times that he’d support a 45% tariff on Chinese exports to the US. So, Ivanka should get herself organized and create the Ivanka label here in the USA with the support of her dear father! Additionally, the Chinese are clamoring to buy clothing products produced in the USA. So, all this week’s drama could all turn out to be the very best thing to have happened to the Ivanka brand! Plus, a positive result for American workers and for our own economy.

    But, for those who love Ivanka’s line as it is please don’t despair!  Still, dozens of other retailers continue to carry the Ivanka Trump brand. Here's a running list to date of those companies, courtesy of #GrabYourWallet.

    Macy's - clothing and shoes

    Bloomingdales - shoes and handbags

    Dillard’s - clothing, shoes, and handbagsr

    Zappos - clothing, shoes, and handbags

    Amazon - clothing, shoes, and handbags

    TJ Maxx - brick and mortar only

    Lord & Taylor - clothing, jewelry, and handbags

    Bed Bath & beyond - diaper bags

    6pm.com - clothing, shoes, handbags and accessories

    Hudson’s bay - clothing, shoes, and accessories

    DSW - shoes

    Bluefly - shoes

    Burlington Coat Factory - clothing

    Marshall's - brick and mortar only

    Overstock - shoes

    Ross - brick and mortar only

    Saks off fifth - clothing

    Sears - shoes, clothing, handbags, jewelry

    Walmart - clothing, shoes, handbags, accessories

    Century 21 - clothing, shoes, accessories

    Buy Buy Baby - diaper bag, baby shoes

    Bon-Ton Stores ( Bon-Ton, Carson’s, Bergner’s, Boston Store, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s, Younker’s) - clothing, shoes, and baby apparel

    Filene’s Basement - clothing, shoes

    Steinmart - accessories

    Winners - brick and mortar only

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