A lot to talk about here from our Los Angeles Conference last week.
First, the crowd, 60 members plus 20 FIDM students all made possible by the sponsorship of Buhler Quality Yarns, Lectra and TukaTech. These 3 companies allowed us to have the best facilities, food and, afterward, refreshments. And not one of them ‘pushed product’. We thank David Sasso, Daniella Ambrogi and Iva Sareen deeply.
Also, we thank Tony Anzovino of Haggar and Deborah Richert of Hyosung USA for organizing the display of over 100 garments Made in the Americas. Also, hats off to Jennifer Menchaca of WTS for helping move, unpack and display all of this world-class apparel. Here is a photo of the wearittoheart.com brand:
For the first time in this, our 5th Regional Conference, we took our Executive Committee’s advice and went for more interaction. I spent the first 1 hour and 45 minutes introducing members and ‘interviewing’ them to uncover issues and insights into the state of the industry. In this way, every member attending was a ‘keynote speaker’. This took us back to our roots of starting all meetings by knowing who was there and what they knew.
Because Dov Charney, who of course lost the company American Apparel, which he had created, was our keynote at our 2008 Santa Monica Annual Conference, we invited him back to speak last week about his new company Los Angeles Apparel. Yes, of course, Dov is highly controversial. But just having finished Richard Branson’s biography, and having studied Steve Jobs and Phil Knight, it is not often you find a true pioneer brand creator in our industry.
Dov gave us two insights. The first is he does not believe in Made in the USA, rather he is committed to Made in Los Angeles. It gives him total control and the highest speeds and flexibility. On a larger scale that is what the Americas offers the industry.
Secondly, he decried the ‘financialization’ of the industry, tracking back to the economic crisis of 2008. When the economy hit, in his view, CEO’s quit talking to the product developers, brand creators and artists of the industry and began to focus on financial reporting. The problem today is it is not a good time to be a weirdo and, being able to relate to weirdos myself, I think he may be on to something!
The venue at FIDM could not have been more lovely nor the students more appreciative. Our longtime friend, Roni Miller Start, Department Chair of FIDM’s Apparel Industry Management program, is so committed to our industry. Nothing beats having students witness the wisdom of this network. In fact, both Hebe Shector of Kaltex America and Daniella Ambrogi of Lectra made passionate talks about their belief that we need to do more for students and, in fact, both ladies are putting together our New York Regional Conference!
Our Regional Conferences have worked beyond our wildest dreams. They give everyone ‘out there’ a chance to meet the network that can help their careers and give them daily support.