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The Year of the Rabbit

By SPESA for JSN International

SPESA President Michael McDonald recently penned the following address for JSN International's annual New Year's Greeting. See the full January issue from JSN International here.


Welcome to the New Year! I write this on the day the world celebrates Lunar New Year. Today we bid farewell to the Year of the Tiger — an animal that traditionally symbolizes positivity and energy — and we welcome the Year of the Rabbit. We’re told the shift from Tiger to Rabbit is significant, with the Rabbit’s energy being more relaxed, restful, and contemplative.

As we look ahead to the next several months, it’s hard to imagine we’ll have much time for rest and relaxation. We welcome, however, the opportunity for contemplation and reflection. First, we reflect on the year just closed, and second, we explore and contemplate ways to better support the sewn products industry in 2023.

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Carhartt Makes It Happen with Launch of Artificially Intelligent Heated Vest
Press Release | February 1, 2023

Today, Carhartt introduced the workwear of the future: the Carhartt X-1 Smart Heated Vest. In partnership with clim8, the new intelligent heated vest from Carhartt is born to outwork fluctuating body temps and built to personalize heat and comfort both on and off the job. This product is the latest unveiled from Carhartt's innovation pipeline and is one of the company’s many collaborations with industry visionaries. In 2022, Carhartt launched a customization program in partnership with SPESA member DXM, which enabled customers to customize key styles to meet their work and outdoor apparel needs.



New Trade Partnership with Latin America Moves Forward
ST&R Trade Report | January 31, 2023

On January 27, the U.S. launched an effort to establish the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity, a trade and economic cooperation initiative within the Western Hemisphere first announced last summer. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the APEP “will be a new type of economic arrangement, anchored on cooperation to build our economies from the bottom up and the middle out.” APEP will initially include Barbados, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay.

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SPESA to Host 2023 Executive Conference in Puerto Rico
Just Style | January 30, 2023

SPESA’s two-day Executive Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, aims to show industry professionals why the region remains a strong Made in America manufacturing base while also serving as the gateway to the Latin America and Caribbean regions. “It is one of the most dynamic economies for the sewn products industry, and we’re looking forward to seeing first-hand how Puerto Rico continues to thrive even during challenging times,” said SPESA President Michael McDonald. 

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Cambodia to Invest US$18m in Apparel Manufacturing Projects
Just Style | January 30, 2023

The Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) has approved three investment projects for the apparel sector that will create up to 5,000 jobs, according to local news reports. The investment will be used to create footwear and garment factories and aid with the manufacture of accessories for clothes, shoes, bags, and hats.

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Another Covid Surge in China is the Global Supply Chain’s Biggest Fear, but it May Be Overstated
CNBC | January 27, 2023

As China has relaxed restrictions in its “Zero Covid” policy and reopened its economy, there have been reports of major outbreaks at factories and ports. While fears among supply chain managers remain high, the prediction is that a rise in Covid cases may be swift but not long lasting. This prediction comes from global suppliers who weathered the first waves of the pandemic, and are not expecting operating conditions to deteriorate as badly this time.

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The 3 Jobs Manufacturers are Struggling to Fill in 2023
Manufacturing Dive | January 27, 2023

Nearly 780,000 jobs were unfilled in the U.S. manufacturing industry as of November 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But amid those thousands of open roles, some are proving particularly hard to fill. As technical skill requirements and academic interests continue to change, companies are struggling to find production workers, engineers, and middle skill workers, a problem that experts say is unlikely to subside in the year ahead. 

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Coats Exits Mauritius and Madagascar Amid Regional Focus
Just Style | January 25, 2023

Of its most recent move, completed on January 31, industrial thread manufacturer Coats said: “The shift in the global sourcing landscape in recent years has affected Coats’ previous customer base in Mauritius and Madagascar. A new customer profile of primarily domestic and regionally based players has evolved, providing better opportunities for a leading locally based operator, which is closer to the market, to run the business.”

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How Increased Funding and Regulatory Changes in 2023 Will Affect Manufacturers
Manufacturing Dive | January 25, 2023

Most notably for the sewn products industry: The Commerce Department was granted $175 million as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 for its Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program. The funds will help with initiatives to expand the pool and diversity in the manufacturing workforce by collaborating with workforce organizations.

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Electronics For Imaging Announces Appointment of Industrial Technology Veteran Frank Pennisi as Chief Executive Officer and Separation of Fiery Business Unit into Independent Company
Press Release | January 25, 2023

EFI recently announced the appointment of Frank Pennisi, a veteran of the industrial and technology sectors, as Chief Executive Officer. In tandem, EFI’s Fiery business unit has been separated as an independent company that will remain wholly owned by Siris. As separate companies, EFI™ and Fiery® will have distinct areas of strategic focus that will enable them to serve their customers better and grow over the long-term, with EFI as an industrial inkjet leader and Fiery as the leading digital front end provider.

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Why Nearshoring is Not a Silver Bullet for the Sporting Goods Industry in 2023
Just Style | January 25, 2023

Nearshoring has bumped right up the agenda for many U.S. sporting brands as they look to navigate the issue of rising transport costs and shipping delays on the back of global pandemics and worker shortages. As the sportswear industry is likely to experience negative growth in 2023, a new report from McKinsey & Co explores whether nearshoring is the route to navigating this challenge. You can check out the report here



LSU Researcher Develops Smart Textile That Detects Fever in Infants
Apparel Resources | January 21, 2023

Assistant Professor of Textiles, Apparel Design and Merchandising at Louisiana State University, Sibei Xia is working on creating “smart clothes” that can track a newborn’s body temperature and respond accordingly. The knit hat can detect changes in the baby’s temperature. Its yarns will change into different shades and alert on temperature rise. The Provost’s Fund for Innovation in Research is funding this emerging research. 

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Levi’s Says Robots Took on 25,000 Hours of Work Last Year 
Rivet | January 20, 2023

The apparel company announced plans to reassign a number of “tedious” tasks — from data entry to data validation — to non-human helpers in late 2021. By mid-January 2023, the new robotics division had surpassed its 20,000-hour goal. Using 45 bots, the robotics team freed employees from performing a number of tasks, allowing them to turn their focus to more strategic, analytical work in IT, merchandising, distribution, and logistics.

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Building The Circular Economy: Finance Leadership In The Sustainable Fashion Revolution
Forbes | January 20, 2023

Luke Henning, the Chief Business Officer at sustainable fashion firm Circ, on building a circular economy for the fashion industry: “We are disrupting one of the oldest industries that played a major part in the industrial revolution. We know what we’re doing is capital intensive and that ‘hard tech’ generally takes longer which impacts timelines for returns… What draws investment to us is threefold: to ensure supply of a scarce commodity to reduce regulatory penalties; to gain market share through being able to offer sustainable products; and ultimately, because the technology acceptance model is so large, any company that can capture market share here with acceptable margins, will be an industrial giant.”

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U.S. Importers Shipping More to America’s East Coast Ports than West Coast Amid Global Supply Chain Shifts
South China Morning Post | January 18, 2023

American container imports from China have also been surpassed by the rest of Asia in another sign that diversification and decoupling are occurring. Supply-chain bottlenecks caused by the global coronavirus pandemic, compounded by unexpectedly high consumer demand, fueled shifts and are leading to an infrastructure revamp of “epic proportions.”

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This Robotic Knitting Factory Might Make Your Next Pair of Sneakers
Fast Company | January 17, 2023

When Joshua Katz opened KX Lab, his focus wasn’t on cost-saving — it was on sustainability and creative collaboration. Katz, who utilizes Shima Seiki automated knitting machines in his 36,000 sq. ft. factory in Los Angeles, says that the lab is designed to bring the “product-creation engine” much closer to both the people who are creating and the consumers who buy the finished product. “If you can work with the factory down the street, you can produce smaller runs, be closer to sampling and development, and bring products to market on a smaller scale.”

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Canada Looks Poised to Pass Law on Forced Labor
Wall Street Journal | January 16, 2023

The bill, known as S-211, passed Canada’s upper chamber last year and has moved through several key steps in the House of Commons. It could become law as soon as March. The law would require companies to report on steps taken to prevent or reduce the use of forced labor in their supply chains by detailing, among other things, parts of the supply chains where forced labor might be occurring and the company’s due diligence procedures.

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Red Land Cotton: Proof You Can Make Textiles Right Here in the U.S.A.
Forbes | January 13, 2023

This article profiles the company Red Line Cotton, which has been in operation since 2015, and has developed a 100% U.S.-based supply chain. Mark Yeager from Red Line Cotton says, “We embrace the rich textile tradition that spans decades and generations in the Southern United States. When we expand to produce a new product we’ve come up with, we go out and put together a whole supply chain of the experts in their craft.”

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What to Watch: Down South, Textile Towns Reinvent Themselves
Women’s Wear Daily | January 9, 2023

“It’s an exciting time for our industry as companies like Walmart focus on bringing some of their supply chain back to the U.S. and the region,” said Eddie Ingle, chief executive officer of Unifi and maker of Repreve (a brand of recycled polyester). “In addition, new textile technologies are growing, like carbon fiber [used in everything from aerospace to clothing to sporting equipment] and nonwoven fabrics, which play a bigger role in the textile industry.”

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ICYMI: Trio of Textile Fairs Rescheduled by Three Weeks to End of March
Press Release | December 30, 2023

The Spring Editions of Intertextile Shanghai Apparel Fabrics, Yarn Expo, and Intertextile Shanghai Home Textiles have been moved to the new timeslot of March 28-30, 2023. This will allow both local and international fairgoers more time to prepare for their participation, with a higher industry turnout now expected at the three fairs. The fairs will still be located at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai where they were originally due to be held.

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