Twenty-five years ago today, on January 2, 1995, Mike Todaro joined Sue Strickland at what was then the American Apparel Contractors Association (AACA). The association had 350 members and a profitable Workers Compensation insurance program.
Today, we start our fourth decade together, and our fifth as an industry network, with 200 organization based in over a dozen countries across 30 links in the chain. Because of our international members, the 'sun never sets' on our network.
The AAPN is not an out-of-the-box experience because there is no box for a network like this – spanning the entire supply chain; overlaying the entire Western Hemisphere; reaching the thousands of thought leaders of apparel production in our industry.
Here is a net/net history of our past 25 years. Note that the list of our goals, travel, events and plans for 2020 is just about as long as the one which follows:
1994 – Created the first dial up online factory sourcing database, 300 elements of data, working with Clemson.
1995 – Wrote the apparel factory handbook to help owners create integrated marketing campaigns
1996 – Launched the industry website – usawear.org; inaugurated email sourcing broadcasts which replaced fax broadcasts
1997 – Name change to American Apparel PRODUCERS' NETWORK. AAPN owned the word 'network' in our industry
1998 – Made in USA pavilion in Leipzig, former East Germany
1999 – Presented to IAF conference in Europe and Turkey, starting to show up as a force and a brand in the industry
2000 – Created the first industry Message Board. Dot Coms take on AAPN.
2001 – Opened AAPN membership to the Americas; 70 new members join; first industry organization to endorse MATERIAL WORLD
2002 – Created the Sourcing Executive Roundtable and Reception at Material World. Opened the supply chain meeting at Koramsa in Guatemala.
2003 – Hosted the first of 5 AAPN CAFTA SUMMITS held in El Salvador; AAPN becomes the de facto industrial organization of the americas
2004 – Published the AAPN Journal. More panels at trade shows. Second Summit in El Salvador.
2005 – AAPN becomes a true global Supply Chain Network. AAPN delegation to Hong Kong. Third Summit in El Salvador.
2006 – AAPN moves its Sourcing Executive Reception at Versace's Mansion on Miami Beach. Roundtable expands becoming source on insight and ownership. Fourth Summit in Nicaragua.
2007 – Created the first Industry 'Wiki' using Web 2.0 technology. Fifth Summit in Guatemala.
2008 – AAPN Apparel Economic Forum in Atlanta. AAPN quoted in TIME magazine.
2009 – Tipping point in meetings – they become more issue driven, interactive, highlight members as speakers.
2010 – Theme for our conference is SUSTAINABILITY which convinces 17 brands to attend. Carlos Arias redefines role of AAPN President.
2011 – Annual Conference focus is on fiber, yarn and trim. AAPN moderated the Sri Lanka Apparel Executive Conference
2012 – published the Asia/Americas REPORT CARD; results created the first industry LEADERSHIP FORUMS. AAPN speaks at HK PrimeSource; AAPN runs 3rd Sri Lanka conference.
2013 – AAPN tours Carolinas' members; Annual Conference focus is on 'living wage'. Attendance goes over 200 for first time. AAPN speaks at ColombiaModa.
2014 – Annual Conference focus on online retail; 30 members go to Walmart Made in Made in USA event. Delegation to Haiti.
2015 – Seth Godin is keynote at Annual Conf; Delegation to Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taiwan
2016 – AAPN creates Regional Conferences; campaign to raise the 'Apparel IQ' of the industry. Second Report Card survey presented. AAPN speaks at PeruMode.
2017 – Panel at PGA Show; Creates the AAPN Industry Leadership Awards and present at Annual Conf; Regionals LA, Dallas, Seattle; Forum in Antigua.
2018 – AAPN has its first weeklong Carolina mill bus tour; Regionals in LA, NY, Dallas; Genius Panel at Annual Conf; Apparel Summit of the Americas in Honduras, largest event in CAFTA history.
2019 – AAPN organizes AAPN(Women). AAPN(Women) panel at MAGIC; 2nd Carolina tour; Regionals in Charlotte Dallas, Portland; Annual Conf 17 speaker's; ITMA in Barcelona.
Here are several quotes that sum up the value of the AAPN:
…..(in) The Connection Economy. … the most valuable places are where the connections are made. …THAT IS THE MAGIC OF THE AAPN:…that what you have is the chain; the information; the trust; the network. THAT is what AAPN is here. — Seth Godin, AAPN, May 4, 2015
AAPN is not in the apparel business. We’re in the people business. — Kurt Cavano, then of Infor
AAPN is the only organization I know of that allows its members to learn from themselves. — Carlos Arias, then of Koramsa
Networks are hard….the rewards of AAPN membership pay off 100 fold and are well worth the investment and time. — Rick Horwitch, Bureau Veritas
One of the unique and outstanding features of the AAPN is that it truly has nothing to sell, other than the collective interest of the supply chain. There is no hidden agenda. This leads to deep and open discussion of the current and upcoming strategic issues that impact us, and that define the wake our industry leaves on society. — Jeff Streader, then of GUESS?
We’re raising the Apparel IQ of the industry. — Tony Anzovino, Haggar
We’re generating ideas to make the Americas a better place to manufacture. – Mark Green, Walmart
Sixteen fiber/yarn/fabric companies attending the upcoming AAPN Annual Conference shouts that we are “blurring the lines”, something which is counter to the very nature of associations. — John Strasburger, then of VF
…AAPN’s strength is its ‘hands-on’ so you get new operational techniques and strategies continuously. — Walter Wilhelm, WWAdvisors
…the benefit of AAPN is you can walk away from their meetings with 30-40 new contacts. And, by working and meeting as one demand chain, AAPN works the way Asia does. — Jim Borneman, TextileWorld
Our team learned so much and expanded our network to include many fascinating people in the apparel industry. This tour was great, a wonderful experience that helped me grow professionally and learn so much about the industry. You pulled off an extremely successful week, and I think we all came away better for it. — Carolina Mill Tour.
We are proud to be celebrating 25 years of partnership in the AAPN. We hope you'll join us in doing so!