Attendees Pursue Diverse Interests at Debut Si Event

— April 01, 2003

Close to 3,500 sourcing professionals attended Si Source International, which premiered this past January in New York. Divided into three sections featuring technology, materials and fashion, Si hosted close to 300 exhibitors, including tanneries and leather resources, plastics and PVC producers, software providers and technology resources offering Internet-based tracking and color management solutions and government agencies involved in apparel and soft goods sourcing.

While a handful of exhibitors bemoaned the dearth of foot traffic at the inaugural edition of the show, Raymond Bianchi, show manager, said the quality of attendees outweighed the quantity. "We focused in on the key sourcing and product development teams in the U.S.," he noted, adding that major labels such as Timberland, Wolverine, Gap, Calvin Klein, Anne Klein and Banana Republic were among those walking the show floor. "We decided, in this launch, to focus on a lot of non-apparel sewn products because there's a lot of investment being done in those areas; more lifestyle companies are making bags, footwear and clothing."

Attendee reaction to the show was generally favorable. "I went to Source International specifically to see some vendors," said Richard DeFabrizio, senior manager of CAD/CAM technologies for Coach, noting that in this regard the show was effective. "I had access to vendors that I wouldn't normally have the opportunity to interact with personally."

Amy Leonard-Emery, vice president of sourcing services, Gap Inc., observed that the show seemed to be geared toward smaller companies. "We went to Source International primarily for the technology piece, but if you were a designer looking for ideas, new materials, piece goods, new countries you haven't thought about sourcing before, the show could be very helpful," said Leonard-Emery, who noted that Gap tends to use agent offices for sourcing.

"The manufacturing base in the United States is getting smaller, and a lot of products are now being manufactured in Europe and elsewhere," said Ken Edrich, director of U.S. sales with the Louisiana-based exotic skins company RTL Inc. "That means we have to change our marketing strategy to go where the manufacturers are. Dealing globally means added delivery time, and added time in moving samples and matching colors."

RTL, which finds itself "working with a lot of fashion designers in New York but delivering a lot to Europe," now attends a number of international shows, including events in Paris, Milan, Bologna and Hong Kong, to interact with this increasingly global base, Edrich said.

In terms of trends in the sourcing arena, technology and color management continue to strike chords. "A big trend we're seeing today is that people are using Web-based or Web-enabled technology to make collaboration possible," noted Craig Crawford, director of design technologies for Liz Claiborne Inc. and chairman of the non-profit Computer-Integrated Textile Design Association (CITDA), a partner in producing Si. "But the biggest new trend is that we're using that technology for color communication, color creation and color management.

"Now, more than ever, technology, material sourcing and manufacturing are partners, communicating about product development," Crawford continued. "The whole idea of a glass pipeline and collaborative product management means that manufacturers now want to be a part of the collaboration process every step of the way, and their partners also want them to be there, because it often results in a better product with less error at the best price." 

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