News round-up over the holidays

As a traditional service to TextileFuture Readers we offer you a news round-up of the time gap we did not publish over the holidays, just to fill you in on the most important news. We grouped them thematically for your fast reading


Sears Stopped Buying National TV Ads in Critical Holiday Season

It is highly unusual for a retailer reliant on brick-and-mortar stores to back off TV ads during the holidays, advertising experts say

A Sears store in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

The holiday season is typically a time for retailers to blanket the airwaves with commercials. This year, one company was noticeably absent: Sears Holdings Corp.

The struggling parent of the Sears and Kmart stores hasn’t run paid national television commercials since late November, according to ad research firm iSpot and a person familiar with the situation. The Kmart brand has been absent from national TV networks since Nov. 24, iSpot said, while Sears hasn’t run a paid national TV spot since Nov. 25—the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving.

That compares with about USD 8.4 million the Sears brand spent on national TV ads in December last year, while the Kmart brand shelled out roughly USD 6.5 million during the same period, according to iSpot estimates.

Sears Holdings Chief Executive Edward Lampert has championed the use of digital marketing over traditional TV and print advertising, arguing that digital is more cost-effective and quantifiable, according to people familiar with the situation. And at first, other Sears executives agreed the company needed to rebalance its marketing to focus more on digital, these people said.

But many executives have come to believe the company has gone too far and the retreat from traditional forms of advertising is hurting the business, these people said.

Sears said in a statement that it is always “evaluating the effectiveness” of its marketing channels. “This ongoing evaluation has meant we have made significant shifts over the past few years in where we’ve allocated our resources, including less traditional print and television, and more digital and social channels,” the statement said. It pointed to recent marketing efforts including having its Kmart brand integrated into the late-night talk show “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

For a retailer to back off of TV ads during the holidays is a highly unusual move, ad experts said. “Retailers establish their value and relevance with consumers during key shopping times,” said Dean Crutchfield, a corporate branding expert.

Indeed, retail rivals such as Macy’s Inc. and J.C. Penney Co. spent tens of millions of dollars during the final month of 2017. Macy’s shelled out some USD 32 million on national TV ads during the first 29 days of December, while Penney spent roughly USD 27 million during the period, iSpot estimates indicate.

Struggling Toys “R” Us Inc., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September, spent about USD 13.3 million on TV ads during the period, according to iSpot.

Sears Holdings, of Hoffman Estates, Ill., has been slashing expenses as it struggles to turn its business around.

Sears lost USD 565 million in the nine months ended Oct. 28, bringing cumulative losses since 2011 to USD 11 billion. Revenue for the period fell 23 % to USD 12.33 billion as the company closed stores and sold less from existing locations. As of the end of October, it operated 1100 Sears and Kmart stores, down from 1500 a year ago.

In December, the cash-strapped retailer extended the terms of a USD 400 million loan and announced new planned borrowings to cover pension contributions.

As its business has shrunk, Sears has scaled back spending on measured media. Sears spent USD 285.1 million on paid advertising in 2016, down from USD 664.2 million in 2011, according to estimates from Kantar Media, an ad-tracking company owned by WPP PLC; the estimates don’t include some forms of digital advertising.

While Sears cut its spending on TV and newspaper ads by roughly two-thirds during the period, it ramped up spending on digital marketing. By 2016, digital had surpassed newspapers and was second only to TV in terms of Sears’s spending, according to Kantar.

In meetings over the past year or two with Mr. Lampert, Sears executives produced data showing that the deep cuts to TV and newspaper advertising had hurt sales, particularly since the majority of Sears’s revenue still comes from brick-and-mortar stores where commercials and circulars are particularly effective at driving foot traffic. According to retail research firm eMarketer, 11 % of Sears sales come from e-commerce.

But the executives were overruled, these people said.



Tired of Cheap Rugged Jeep Wrangler Goes Premium

Whether it’s headed to the trail or the store, the Jeep Wrangler is an established American icon. American Car Craft ( who specializes in creating premium accessories for a wide variety of muscle and luxury model vehicles, has designed a line of premium accessories for the Wrangler market

With a full line of interior stainless steel accessories, officially licensed by Jeep, American Car Craft looks to give Jeep owners something to further increase the value of their remarkable vehicles.

Stainless steel A/C vent overlay with official Sahara logo

Accessory features:

  • Premium materials
  • 304 stainless steel
  • Will not fade, pit, tarnish or rust
  • American made
  • Easy installation Incredibly attractive options

Ease of installation is key, and items like the A/C duct covers install as easily as a sticker. But don’t let the sticker fool you, each of these “stickers” uses the incredibly strong 3M adhesives known throughout the automotive and industrial worlds. It doesn’t stop with the A/C covers. Jeep Wrangler owners can expect a wide variety of premium parts including the already on the market Star Spangled Grille. Made from 304 stainless steel the Star Spangled Grille installs simply behind your stock Jeep Wrangler grille providing maximum visibility while not interfering with the cooling of your engine.

Each of these premium Jeep Wrangler accessories installs like a sticker but has been designed to look like a factory option. Made entirely from premium 304 stainless steel, each Ford Raptor truck accessory is made in the USA by the skilled fabricators of American Car Craft. These unique Jeep Wrangler accessories are available now where ever American Car Craft products are sold.



Company News

BASF and SINOPEC expand production capacity for Neopentylglycol in Nanjing, China

BASF and SINOPEC will expand the production capacity of Neopentylglycol (NPG) at the state-of-the-art Verbund site, BASF-YPC Co., Ltd., a 50-50 joint venture in Nanjing, China. The plant was established in 2015 with an annual capacity of 40,000 metric tons. Following the expansion, the annual capacity will be doubled to 80000 metric tons. The expanded capacity will come on stream in 2020.

“With this increased capacity, we will support the fast-growing customer demand for high-quality NPG in China and the Asia Pacific region. The expansion is also in line with the trend towards environmentally friendly powder coatings with low volatile organic compounds, or VOCs,” said Narayan Krishnamohan, Senior Vice President, BASF Intermediates Asia Pacific. “As a globally leading supplier of NPG, we have decades of experience in manufacturing and supplying NPG to our customers across a broad range of industries. Customers will benefit from our regional presence, innovation strength, flexibility and reliability of supply.”

“The investment further strengthens strategic success between SINOPEC and BASF as we both support the trend of sustainable development.  Both SINOPEC and BASF have confidence in Nanjing, Jiangsu, and its future prospects, as an ideal investment destination,” Mr Li Cheng Feng, Chairman of Sinopec Yangzi Petrochemical Company Limited and BASF-YPC Company Limited.

NPG is a unique polyalcohol offering superior performance in many end-use applications such as powder coatings, textiles and construction due to its high chemical and thermal stability. It is mainly used as a building block in polyester resins for coatings, unsaturated polyester and alkyd resins, lubricants and plasticizers. As the global market leader, BASF has NPG production facilities in Ludwigshafen, Germany; Freeport, Texas, United States and Jilin, China.

BASF-YPC Co., Ltd. (“BASF-YPC”) is a 50-50 joint venture between BASF and Sinopec, founded in 2000, with a total investment of USD 5.2 billion. The integrated petrochemical site produces three million tons of high-quality chemicals and polymers for the Chinese market annually. The products serve the rapid-growing demand in multiple industries including agriculture, construction, electronics, pharmaceutical, hygiene, automotive and chemical manufacturing. All BASF-YPC plants are interconnected in order to use products, by-products and energy in the most efficient way, to save cost and minimize environmental impact. BASF-YPC posted sales of approximately RMB17.3 billion in 2016 and employed 1880 people as of the end of that year.

At BASF, we create chemistry for a sustainable future. We combine economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility. The approximately 114000 employees in the BASF Group work on contributing to the success of our customers in nearly all sectors and almost every country in the world. Our portfolio is organized into five segments: Chemicals, Performance Products, Functional Materials & Solutions, Agricultural Solutions and Oil & Gas. BASF generated sales of about EUR 58 billion in 2016.

SINOPEC is one of the largest integrated energy and chemical companies with upstream, midstream and downstream operations in China. Its principal operations include: the exploration and production, pipeline transportation and sales of petroleum and natural gas; the sales, storage and transportation of petroleum products, petrochemical products, synthetic fibre, fertilizer and other chemical products; and the research, development and application of technologies and information. SINOPEC implements strategies of resources, markets, integration, internationalisation, differentiation and green low-carbon development with a view to realize its vision of building a world first class energy and chemical company. Sinopec generates sales of 1.97 trillion Yuan RMB in 2016.

YPC is one of Sinopec’s largest integrated sites of refinery and petrochemical operation with sales of 54.7 billion Yuan RMB in 2016. Located in Nanjing, Jiangsu, China, it implements shareholder’s management over BYC on behalf of Sinopec.


Nike isn’t quite doing it

Delivering Nike’s second-quarter results on December 21, 2017, Chief Executive Mark Parker spoke of the sportswear company “unleashing a relentless flow of innovation at a scale that our industry has never seen.” Such talk may not comfort investors much longer. Shares were down 6% in Friday morning trading.

Though the company reported earnings of 46 US cents a share, beating analysts’ expectations of 40 cents, net income decreased 9 % year over year to USD 767 million. Gross margins contracted and selling and administrative expense rose. Revenue reached USD 8.6 billion, an annual increase of 5 %.

Over half of Nike’s revenue and even more of its growth comes from outside North America. The company says growth from other continents will contribute 75 % of incremental growth over the next five years. It is particularly focused on China, its third-largest market after North America and Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Revenue in China grew 16 % in the quarter, reaching USD 1.2 billion. In Europe, the Middle East and Africa it grew 19 % to USD 2.1 billion.

Yet Nike’s domestic business remains large, and it has become a large challenge as well. At its investors’ day in October, the company painted a multiyear trajectory of growth world-wide. It isn’t clear, however, that it can fill the gap between where it is and where it says it will be.

“Investors are holding on for a long-term win, but there will come a point when you actually need to see those results,” says Simeon Siegel, a retail analyst at Nomura Securities.

A company that once seemingly could do no wrong is in a rut. Nike has beaten analysts’ consensus expectations in each of its last 10 earnings reports by an average of 16 %, but the shares have still fallen meaningfully six of those times.

Nike encourages belief, and investors want to believe. If it doesn’t start to deliver, that faith may sour further.


Ahlstrom-Munksjö acquires land next to its Louveira plant in Brazil

Ahlstrom-Munksjö taking the first step towards a potential capacity expansion plan at its Louveira plant in Brazil

“Demand for filtration media in South America is expected to continue to grow in the coming years and we clearly foresee the need to increase capacity in the future to support the growing demand for filtration media in the region” states Fulvio Capussotti, Executive Vice President of the Business Area Filtration & Performance.

“The acquisition of this land constitutes an important steps towards our overall ambition to further develop an industrial platform in South America that will enable us to continue to support our filtration customers in the region for the years to come” he adds.

The Louveira plant is located in the San Paolo region in Brazil, employs around 110 people and manufactures filtration media for transportation and industrial applications.

Ahlstrom-Munksjö is a global leader in fibre-based materials, supplying innovative and sustainable solutions to customers worldwide. Our offerings include decor paper, filter media, release liners, abrasive backings, nonwovens, electro-technical paper, glass fibre materials, food packaging and labelling, tape, medical fibre materials and solutions for diagnostics. Combined annual net sales are about EUR 2.15 billion and we employ 6000 people.


L.L.Bean with LOOMIA smart textiles to explore blockchain applications

Maine-based outdoor retailer L.L. Bean with LOOMIA, a technology company adding intelligence to everyday objects will be exploring the applications of blockchain technology. The companies will explore how data from LOOMIA-enabled L.L. Bean apparel can assess the extended use and performance of the outdoor retailer’s products, and provide insight on the use rate of products returned under L.L.Bean’s 100 % satisfaction guarantee

Chad Leeder, L.L.Bean’s innovation specialist said that working with LOOMIA will enable L.L.Bean to continue its 106 year-old mission of utilizing the latest advancements and technologies to design durable, functionally innovative products that help to further folks’ enjoyment of the outdoors.

This partnership will first be tested with L.L.Bean’s outerwear products by incorporating LOOMIA Electronic Layer (LEL) into merchandise such as jackets and boots. The LEL, which is composed of a flexible circuitry, can heat, light, and sense, all while remaining washable, dryable, and discreet.

L.L. Bean will research implementing LOOMIA’s circuitry to collect data from apparel including information around temperature, motion, and frequency of wear. Once this data is collected, consumers will be able to share it back with the brand for rewards via the LOOMIA TILE– a component that allows for the secure and anonymous transfer of data.

Other use cases include the incorporation of LOOMIA’s heating elements into L.L.Bean signature products, such as enabling them to warm hikers’ toes or provide an extra layer of warmth on cold days. These solutions will present some of the first tech-enabled products to conquer the rigid and bulky design typically seen with other heating and sensing applications that have restricted wearable tech from advancing.

LOOMIA’s technology centred on the human experience is building an economy where consumers and brands are aligned on making better products through analyzing consumer-generated data. These innovative data insights are secured through blockchain technology and are governed by the expressive consent of consumers to share their data in a mutually beneficial and seamless exchange.

LOOMIA also announced Carole Kerner, former president of Donna Karan Collection with more than 25 years experience in the fashion industry, will be joining the team as an advisor. Ms. Kerner has previously held the positions of president of DKNY, and a senior executive within the companies of Abercrombie and Fitch, and J Crew.



Brazilian cotton prices up 6 % in domestic market due to limited supply

Brazil’s 2017-18 cotton output may reach 1.69 million tons, 10.5 % larger than in the previous crop, due to the good perspectives for the Brazilian market, according to third crop survey on December 12 released by the National Company for Food Supply (Conab). As per the survey, the area sown with cotton is forecast to reach 1.04 million hectares, an increase of 11 %; however, average productivity is expected to be 1,622 kilos per hectare, a slight 0.5 % down compared to the 2016-17 season.

According to data from Conab (National Company for Food Supply), the year of 2017 starts with inventories at only 162.9 thousand tons, the lowest level since 2010/11.

In Mato Grosso, the main and largest cotton producing state in Brazil, the 2017-18 harvesting is estimated at 1.06 million tons, 5.2 % above the previous one, according to Conab data. The area sown may increase 3.3 %, reaching 648,500 hectares, while the average productivity may rise 1.8 %, to 1,611 kilos per hectare. Higher productivity is linked to favorable weather.

In Bahia, the second largest cotton producing state in Brazil, the 2017-18 production is estimated at 430200 tons, a staggering 24.3 % up compared to the previous season. The increase may come entirely from the larger area sown (34.8 %), reaching 201,600 hectares. However, the average productivity may be 1,583 kilos per hectare, 7.8 % down compared to the 2016-17 crop.

According to Center for Advanced Studies on Applied Economics (CEPEA) in its latest fortnightly report on Brazilian cotton market stated that only a few processors and traders were active in the spot market, searching for batches for quick delivery – these agents were flexible regarding asking prices, even for lower quality batches. Most contracts closed involved small volumes to replenish inventories and speed up loading before transportation stops, due to the holiday season.

Cotton prices increased in Brazil’s domestic market in the first fortnight of December 2017. The CEPEA/ESALQ cotton Index between November 30 and December 15 rose a staggering 6 %, closing at 2.5945 BRL (USD 0.7848) per pound on December 15, 2017.

Most growers and trading companies continued being retracted from sales in the domestic market, agents were focused on oscillations of future contracts at the New York Exchange Stock (ICE Futures) and the exchange rate (real x dollar). However, some export contracts were closed, mostly involving the 2017-18 crop. Dollar will play an important role to keep cotton availability adjusted to demand, mainly in the second semester of 2017.


US Cotton Farmers may get more subsidies in 2018

Once again, the US government is attempting to provide more subsidies to cotton farmers – this time in a bill designed to provide disaster relief to Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico

Specifically, the USD 81 billion disaster relief bill would make seed cotton eligible for “commodity subsidies” linked to crop prices. In the 2014 Farm Bill, Congress excluded cotton farmers from receiving these subsidies after Brazil successfully argued that such subsidies violated our trade agreements.

Instead, Congress provided cotton farmers with a crop insurance programme that is far more heavily subsidised than the crop insurance provided to other farmers.

Under the county-based revenue insurance programme called the Stacked Income Protection Program, or STAX, cotton farmers are only required to pay 20% of crop insurance premiums – down from 38 %, on average, for other crops. Cotton farmers also received “transition assistance” payments, cotton storage cost reimbursements and a “one-time only” payment to cover cotton ginning costs.

Some cotton farmers, unaccustomed to sharing the cost of risk management with taxpayers, declined to participate in STAX. The overall result is that cotton farmers received just as much in 2015 and 2016 as they did between 2010 and 2014, according to Department of Agriculture data published by EWG’s Farm Subsidy Database. A recent CRS report found that cotton farmers received more than USD 100 an acre from the taxpayers between 2014 and 2016 – or nearly twice as much as corn farmers and four times as much as soybean farmers. Only peanut farmers (D341 per acre) and rice farmers (D238 per acre) received more. Cotton prices have steadily increased since passage of the 2014 Farm Bill – which means that cotton farmers are making money from the marketplace – and not just relying on taxpayer subsidies. Nevertheless, the disaster bill will allow cotton farmers to receive subsidies through the Price Loss Coverage program, or PLC. Payments for “commodity subsidies” through the PLC and the Agricultural Risk Coverage, or ARC, program have cost far more than the CBO predicted when Congress enacted the 2014 Farm Bill. Now, Congress is about to compound that math error by making seed cotton eligible for PLC as well.

That’s not all. By making seed cotton eligible for PLC, Congress could be inviting a new trade war with Brazil and other cotton growing countries. The last time Brazil successfully challenged these subsidies, American taxpayers were forced to pay Brazil USD 300 million to avoid higher tariffs on American goods shipped to Brazil, including cars, electronics and drugs.

Rising costs of farming cotton

Size, flexibility and multiple revenue streams – those are the keys that have helped Matt Coley and his father, Chuck, weather the economic storm that farmers in the heart of Georgia’s cotton country say has hobbled their balance sheets in recent years.

“Every year seems like it costs a little more to get a crop in the ground, grow it and harvest it,” said Matt Coley, a Georgia Cotton Commission member and fourth-generation farmer, as he sat in his wood-panelled office filled with University of Georgia memorabilia.

After years of stubbornly low commodity prices and a glut of cotton supply on the world market, stakeholders from Georgia to California warn that irreversible damage to farms and farmers may have already been done. Washington devotes billions in subsidies to help farmers weather such economic hardships. But a recent international trade dispute has kneecapped one of the central tenets of the US government’s cotton aid system, making it effectively useless, stakeholders say.

“There’s nothing there for the cotton farmers to fall back on,” said Gerald Long, president of the Georgia Farm Bureau, who himself grows cotton and a slew of other crops at his farm near Bainbridge. “Right now, the price of cotton is below our cost of production.”

The Coleys’ 3800-acre farm in Vienna is on the larger side, which helps make investments in new equipment such as a cotton picker – they typically run three-quarters of a million dollars apiece – more feasible because of economies of scale. The family owns a gin, which allows them to pull in extra income from other local farmers looking to process their cotton crop. They also grow peanuts, which helps improve the farm’s soil and just as critically functions as a fallback option when cotton prices are low – as they generally have been in recent years.

Under pressure from outside groups, members of Congress have signalled their plans to send cotton farmers a new set of emergency subsidies in the months ahead. But not everyone thinks more federal money is warranted. Some environmental and government waste groups point to recovering cotton yields and prices as reasons why farmers don’t need extra help from the government.  “Cotton farmers don’t have a safety net,” said Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group. “They already have a trampoline.”

China and Brazil

Cotton has long shaped Georgia’s political and historical identity. Even today, it is an economic force to be reckoned with and one of the state’s top agricultural exports. Georgia farmers planted nearly 1.2 million acres of it in 2016, according to federal figures, generating more than USD 1 billion in sales last year, the second most of any state. Advocates say the industry is only just now beginning to recover after a troubled few years.

“Certainly there’s been a tremendous amount of pain for people whose businesses revolve around (cotton),” said Republican US Rep. Austin Scott, whose 8th Congressional District in south-central Georgia is dotted with fluffy white cotton buds. Industry stakeholders pin many of their troubles on two particular trading partners: China and Brazil.

China all but dictates the global market for cotton. The lion’s share of US-grown cotton is exported there and to other Southeast Asian textile behemoths such as Bangladesh and Vietnam. And among the bales that stay in America, much is spun into yarn that is then exported across the Pacific.

In 2011, China went on a shopping spree, snapping up half of the world’s cotton that year, and then sat on it. The move depressed the price of the commodity worldwide while tamping down on production in places as far away as the Peach State. China began auctioning off its cotton, but it’s not the only country that local farmers say has thrown a wrench into their bottom lines.

Brazil spearheaded perhaps the industry’s most profound economic change in recent years after it successfully sued the United States in an international trade court in 2002 alleging unfair trade practices. In order to avoid bruising tariffs, the US agreed to pay Brazil hundreds of millions of dollars and effectively end its most substantial cotton subsidy programme.

Farmers could still receive federally backed crop insurance, as well as enter into a loan assistance programme. But cotton’s boosters argue the trade case with Brazil – as well as the world’s growing taste for polyester and other cheaper alternatives to cotton – blew holes into their balance sheets at a time when their economic situation was dire.

Not about getting rich

Many stakeholders are looking to have those cotton-specific subsidies essentially reinstated in next year’s farm bill. The money, they say, is not enough to make them rich, but it would help to keep their finances afloat through bad economic years. “What’s at stake really is the health of rural communities,” said Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. “It is about survival because agriculture on the world stage is a very volatile business.”

Farming comes with high upfront costs, stakeholders say. Securing the land, equipment and labour required to operate a farm often costs millions of dollars. And while many farmers have been able to rotate in peanuts or corn as a substitute for cotton in times of lower federal support, they warn that prolonged economic troubles could lead to farmers being denied loans to invest in land or new equipment. It could also force people to eventually scale back their operations or sell their farms altogether.

“We’ve got farmers each year that go out of business that cannot continue” said Long. “The margins are so close, the risk is so great. The equipment cost is unbearable. When you put all those combinations together, you cannot afford to make a mistake, whether it’s your mistake or Mother Nature’s mistake.” Members of Congress have signalled that more money is likely on the way, perhaps within weeks.

Lawmakers slipped a provision into the latest emergency spending bill providing relief for hurricane victims that would make certain types of cotton and cottonseed eligible for new subsidies. The natural disaster bill is still being negotiated on Capitol Hill, but it’s looking increasingly likely that lawmakers will be sending cotton farmers some sort of interim financial help in early 2018, either through that measure or wrap-up government spending legislation.

Those changes will set the table for an even larger overhaul of cotton subsidies expected later in the year, when the House and Senate agriculture committees negotiate the next farm bill. Cotton boosters are lobbying hard for bigger subsidies for their commodity. “We don’t want to guarantee anybody a profit, but we want to be able to put in some type of stop-loss in there so that farmers can protect themselves from the downside risk of both a bad crop year and a bad price year,” said Scott, who is a member of the House Agriculture panel. Cotton advocates will need to fight against other crops duking it out for the same scarce government money. But with several Georgians sitting on House & Senate Agriculture Committees & former Gov. Sonny Perdue now the US secretary of agriculture, Southern crops may be in a better negotiating position.

More than a fair share?

There has long been friction between cotton supporters and the boosters of other commodities, such as corn and soybeans, these have long competed for federal support every six years when the farm bill is renegotiated. Many have felt that cotton was a favoured child. “Historically and currently, cotton has always gotten more than its fair share of subsidies,” said Faber, the Environmental Working Group vice president.

He said Congress should not risk igniting a renewed trade battle with Brazil by beefing up cotton subsidies in 2018. Josh Sewell, a senior policy analyst at the anti-government waste group Taxpayers for Common Sense, said agricultural lobbyists always try to convince Congress they have had a bad few years in order to receive more subsidies, regardless of whether that is true.

Sewell said Congress should take a much more scaled-back approach to farm subsidies. He said markets would be more efficient in determining winners and losers – a more desirable outcome, even if that means fewer cotton acres being planted. Cotton “seems to be the commodity that is the least willing to adapt to the globalised market,” he said. With cotton yields increasing, the industry should focus on lobbying the government to push other countries for fairer trade practices, not more subsidies, Sewell said. “You want to free farmers,” he said. “Give them the opportunity to plant for the market, not to the edicts of Washington or to their bankers, which is what we’re doing now.”

Cotton production by U.S. states, 2016

  1. Texas 6.3 million bales
  2. Georgia 2.6 million bales
  3. Mississippi 1.1 million bales
  4. Arkansas 800,000 bales
  5. California 685,000 bales

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service                        



Five year plan to develop spinning, weaving companies in Northern Egypt

During the Parliament’s local administration committee’s meeting held to discuss a complaint regarding the misuse of state’s lands affiliated with a spinning and weaving company in Beheira governorate. The government has come up with a five year plan to develop spinning and weaving companies in northern Egypt, said Head of the Cotton and Textile Industries Holding Company Ahmed Mostafa on December 27, 2017.

According to the complaint, these lands were being sold and leased for personal purposes. Mostafa agreed that there was a misuse of these lands and that the issue was under investigation.

The government is working on solving such issues through development plans for spinning and weaving companies across the country so that the sector regains its glory. This five year plan need finance of about LE 20 billion.

He said that some of the companies’ lands will be used to secure the LE 20 billion needed to finance the government’s plan to develop the spinning and weaving industry in the north Egyptian governorates of Alexandria, Beheira and Gharbia.

The government aims to make these governorates attractive once again to the spinning and weaving industry.

In November, Gharbia Governor Ahmed Sakr said that an industrial zone for spinning, weaving and ready-made garments would be established in Mahalla.

The project comprises three industrial zones aiming to attract new investments of some LE 2 billion, create 25000 jobs and establish more than 100 new spinning and weaving factories to develop the Egyptian industries with the participation of the private sector.



SPGPrints presents digital and rotary screen solutions for decorative applications at Heimtextil 2018

Supporting the growth of the home furnishings and interior decor markets, SPGPrints will be presenting its digital and rotary screen solutions for a wide range of applications from textiles and laminates printing to wall coverings at Heimtextil 2018 (Hall 3, Level 1, Stand B17),January 9-12, 2018 at Messe Frankfurt, Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany.

SPGPrints presents digital and rotary screen solutions for decorative applications at Heimtextil 2018,

A digital solution for laminates

The latest platform utilising SPGPrints’ unique Archer® inkjet technology is the PIKE 700 UV-inkjet hybrid press for laminates (decor) and other industrial applications. Using the power of digital printing in the home decor market means that designers and decorators can have custom or mass-market products quickly and cost-effectively, no matter what the volume.

At the SPGPrints stand, there will be video presentations of the PIKE 700, a 700mm-wide roll-to-roll machine, featuring up to 10 colour positions around a central cylinder, with CMYK plus white as standard. The printer uses SPGPrints’ own inks that are optimised for the print head and the machine’s treatment processes. PIKE 700 produces excellent vignettes that outperform conventional printing technology; it also enables consistent colour uniformity on both supported and unsupported paper and film materials up to 450µm thickness.

Depending on customer specifications, the PIKE 700 printer can print the full range of textiles, papers, films, foils and boards at resolutions up to 1200dpi. Image crispness is assured by inter-colour LED pinning. Used in conjunction with rotary screen printing units for added value high-impact “look and feel” effects, a complete single-pass production line may be created from priming or corona treatment through to finished product.

SPGPrints’ continuing leadership in rotary screen technology

Rotary screen printing remains the dominant method of printing for the wallcovering industry and SPGPrints provides solutions for optimising application quality and workflow efficiency. Tailored solutions for every stage in the rotary screen workflow, including complete printing lines, like the PD5 hybrid printing line, are available for use with SPGPrints’ nickel rotary screens, and direct laser engraving and exposing systems.

SPGPrints’ SpecialScreen® screen programme unlocks the creative potential for wallcovering designers and producers with seamless nickel rotary screens that combine a high mesh-count with a large hole size, enabling fine and detailed printing with large paste particles, without risk of blockage. For excellent reproduction with smooth tonal gradations, fine outline printing, as well as puff, 3D tactile, glitter and reflective effects that offer enhanced sensual appeal, SpecialScreen screens set a new standard.

Highlights of the range include the 100SP/ 40 % and 130SP/ 33 % customised screens for water-based paste for creating 3D designs. For halftone printing, the 250SP screen achieves a raster of up to 60 l/cm, and is ideal for fine detail printing. Multiple colour runs that use special effects like metallic gold and silver or Iriodine for a high-lustre finish add value and create the unique looks favoured by high-end designers and retailers.

Information on SPGPrints’ wide range of screens and laser engraving systems for textile applications will be available on the Hall 3 stand, enabling visitors to compare the options and receive guidance on selecting the best solution for their specific requirements.

SPGPrints is a global leading company in the textile, label and industrial printing markets. It provides total system solutions, with a portfolio including screens, lacquers, inks, digital engravers, and a broad range of rotary screen and digital printing systems. The company has applied its electroforming expertise to developing both highly reliable rotary screen technology and an extensive program of precision metal products.


India’s Textile Ministry plans to showcase Indian Apparel in a big way overseas

The Centre has prioritized the increase in visibility and exports of Indian products like cotton, textiles and apparels besides handicrafts and jute. In all, target markets have been earmarked in 13 countries for purpose of boosting exports.

With an emphasis on textiles and apparels, the list of 13 countries that are being targeted include Italy, France, US, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Russia, Australia, Turkey, Egypt, Brazil, UAE and Chile. The ministry of textiles stated that in accordance with the sales and marketing potential afforded by each target country, the product segments have been earmarked.

The government has shortlisted cotton textiles and handicraft items for the European countries among the target segment that constitute Germany, France and Italy. Indian cotton and carpets have China as their main target segment. For Indian apparels, the US has been chosen as the favoured target destination.

Currently India’s share of the global textile trade is 5 % and it stands in a distant second spot behind China in the apparel exports segment.

“Indian textile products especially have a huge potential to raise their market share in various target countries. We have to align our products with the target market,” the ministry pointed out, adding, “We have evolved with a marketing strategy that seamlessly blends different marketing initiatives.” In addition, the marketing strategy adopted by the ministry is approach specific depending on whether the market is traditional, emerging or of other type.

Recently, the ministry of textiles had approved an integrated marketing plan for 2017-18 keeping the apparel sector in mind. The plan envisages higher degree of convergence among different agencies, stressing the need to tap new markets. The targeting calls for carrying out focused trade promotion activities. These include exhibitions, roadshows and B2B meetings.

According to the integrated plan, the creation of a single umbrella brand and space for purpose of showcasing the high points of India’s textile goods is mandated. Separate Indian pavilions should be set up in the different trade fairs globally for effectuating the plan. Road shows and post business hour B2B meetings will also be arranged in a planned manner for complementing the focus on marketing the target section of products.

Besides, the integrated plan also envisages the task of designating an official to coordinate the different delegations that participate in overseas exhibitions. The designated official will also liaison with the export promotion councils and supervise the pavilion design. The role of the designator will also include conducting bilateral talks with government officials.

In the previous trading year, the figures for India’s aggregate textiles and apparels export stand at USD 39.7 billion. The textiles trade for India has grown at a marginal pace of 2.6 % since 2012-13.



STFI welcomes its new managing scientific director

STFI Sächsisches Textilforschungsinstitut e.V. (Saxon Textile Research Institute) in Chemnitz, Germany has completed its management team by an excellent scientist and proven digitalization expert in Technical Textiles. Dr-Ing. Yves-Simon Gloy has taken over his new function as managing scientific director of STFI as of January 1, 2018. The up to that date sole managing director, Dipl.-Ing.-Ök. Andreas Berthel will continue his tasks as commercial director of the institute.

From left to right the new managing scientific managing director Dr-Ing. Yves-Simon Gloy and the commercial managing director Dipl.-Ing-Ök Andreas Berthel.

STFI welcomes the new managing scientific director

The new STFI scientific managing director during his presentation in front of the staff

On his first working day Dr Gloy presented himself in front of the STFI workforce with an update of his research and scientific works.

With the extension of the management team STFI provides the best requirements to continue to write the success story of the institute.

STFI is an application-oriented, industry-related research and development potential, all of them are an essential prerequisite in meeting the needs and requirements of innovation in the expanding market of technical textiles.

With the specific competence of its highly qualified employees and its modern technical equipment, the Saxon Textile Research Institute (STFI) at Chemnitz University of Technology is the ideal partner for these increasingly complex tasks. Research results can be transferred into practice even quicker than before if the production of principal samples, semi-finished products, structural components, and small batches is realized together with the enterprises already during the development phase. STFI is consistently improving the technical foundation for the development of technical textiles and innovative nonwoven products as well as testing and certification procedures. STFI’s Center of Excellence in Nonwovens concentrates interdisciplinary knowledge for the customer-based development of products and procedures as well as testing, certification, and environmentally safe recycling of nonwovens.

In addition to nonwoven technologies, the institute’s most important research fields include technical textiles in the areas of mobile textiles, preforms for composites, geotextiles, agro-textiles, building textiles, lighting textiles, textiles with integrated sensors as well as textile filters and protective textiles. Through close cooperation with other research facilities further interdisciplinary areas of expertise can be covered.

STFI conducts tests and certification procedures for its customers who come from more than 60 countries around the globe.

The institute is partner in EU projects and member of various German and European textile associations. The employees are active in international work groups and standards committees. Over the past 15 years, the number of employees has increased continuously. Currently, they are working on about 100 research projects, submitting eight to ten patent applications per year. Research results and services of STFI are presented to a wide range of experts on international conferences, symposia and fairs.




American Apparel’s rebrand, led by female executives, aims to be sexy without the sexism

Uncomfortably young models are out, and empowered women are in

It’s a tremendous understatement to say that relaunching a brand like American Apparel in the current cultural climate is a challenge.

It is, after all, a cult favourite clothing line perhaps best known for its controversial—bordering on pervy—ad photography favoured by infamous and now deposed founder Dov Charney. Line-crossing and salacious even by fashion standards, the ads frequently featured young-looking women in positions of vulnerability or voyeur-like scenarios, and Charney often photographed the images himself. (You can revisit the brand’s descent into debauchery in this NSFW timeline curated by Esquire.)

The Los Angeles-based brand, acquired by conglomerate Gildan Activewear early this year, knows its marketing history and has vowed not to repeat it. The mantra: No more hyper-sexualized, male-gaze images.

Though it would be easy to overcorrect, the new executives (the first all-female team in the brand’s history), are clear-eyed about their strategy, especially what they don’t intend to do.

“We don’t believe in covering up,” said Sabina Weber, head of brand marketing. “Women feel so conflicted about being sexual right now, but we’re taking a position to still be sexy, unapologetically so, but from an empowered female perspective.”

With its colourful “Back to Basics” ads, American Apparel started announcing its return a few months ago. Billboards, bus shelters and other outdoor ads in markets like New York and L.A., along with print and social, have been rolling out since, pointing consumers to the ecommerce site (there are no more branded retail shops).

The creative work on the ads, all done by a small in-house staff, uses a mix of male and female photographers working with everyday gals and guys, not models or paid influencers, Weber said, to show diversity in height, weight, age, ethnicity and body types. There’s little if any retouching, and the tone aims to be “honest, direct, playful, inclusive, sexy and occasionally slightly provocative,” said Weber, recently named one of Adweek’s L.A. Brand Stars.

The males are deliberately shot in similar poses, wearing the same amount of clothing as the females, Weber said.

Seductive, come-hither looks are still in, but topless and bottomless photos of seemingly underaged girls are definitely out. Models are required to be over 18, and a recent open call asked for those “25 or older.” The change was spotted by an Instagram commenter who said, “Finally less sexualized pre-pubescent bodies in their ads.”

One carry-over from past to present: armpit hair, which Weber says provokes consumer comments so nasty that it puzzles her. “It’s a very fascinating dynamic,” she said of the au nature look. “Even as we feel we are evolving and making strides, women are still so angry and judgmental when another woman dares to show her body.”

Charney’s ads were no stranger to rejection (media platforms of all stripes turned down photography that bordered on kiddie porn), and Weber said a few recent American Apparel ads have been kicked back for showing “a bit of side boob—not even a nipple!” New York Metro’s refusal to run those ads was “probably my favourite rejection,” Weber said with a laugh.

Check out some of American Apparel’s new ad creative below and decide for yourself if the brand has shed what Weber called the “uncomfortable” images of the past that reeked of “a sense of desperation” in favour of a more progressive, 21st century-friendly approach.



U.S. Retailers feel shoppers’ Christmas Cheer

Americans of all income levels, feeling flush, boosted their holiday spending

Retailers are enjoying some extra Christmas cheer.

Fuelled by high consumer confidence and a robust job market, U.S. retail sales in the holiday period rose at their best pace since 2011, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracks both online and in-store spending.

Sales, excluding automobiles, rose 4.9 % from Nov. 1 through Christmas Eve, compared with a 3.7 % gain in the same period last year, according to the Mastercard Inc. MA 0.21 % unit, which tracks all forms of payment. E-commerce continued to drive the gains, rising 18.1 %.

“It started with a bang in the week leading up to Black Friday,” said Sarah Quinlan, a senior vice president of marketing insights at Mastercard. She added that retailers benefited this year from Christmas Day falling on a Monday, giving shoppers a full weekend to scoop up last-minute purchases. Dec. 23 ranked next to Black Friday in terms of spending, according to Mastercard.

“Overall, this year was a big win for retail,” Ivanka Quinlan said.

That newfound buoyancy is a relief to retailers—from department-store giants like Macy’s Inc. to mall favourites like Gap Inc.—that struggled through a difficult year of store closures, declining foot traffic and bankruptcies by chains including the Sports Authority, Toys ‘R’ Us and Payless Shoes.

Investors, who have abandoned many retail stocks even as the broader stock market surged, have started to return. Shares of Macy’s and Gap, for example, have jumped 24 % and 18 %, respectively, in the past month, compared with a 3 % gain in the S&P 500. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has rallied 40 % on the year and, like online nemesis Inc., is trading near all-time highs.

Unlike in past years, when spending was driven by high-income shoppers, this holiday season a broader swath of the population opened their wallets, encouraged by rising wages and low unemployment, analysts and economists said.

“Fewer people are living paycheck to paycheck,” said Chris Christopher, executive director of economic-research firm IHS Markit. “There is a lot more spending from the lower- and middle-income groups, while the upper-income groups are splurging.”

Consumer credit-card debt reached its highest level since the end of 2008, jumping 11% from a year earlier to USD 757 billion in the third quarter of 2017, according to Experian PLC, a credit-reporting agency. This time around, the surging debt levels are due to economic confidence, said Alan Ikemura, a senior product manager with Experian’s analytics unit.

Consumer confidence rose to a 17-year-high in November, while unemployment fell to a 17-year low in October. Personal consumption expenditures, a measure of household spending on everything from airfares to washing machines, increased 4.5% in November from a year earlier, an escalation from year-over-year gains of 4% during the summer.

In a cautionary sign, however, credit-card delinquency rates jumped 16% in the third quarter, indicating consumers may be spending above their means and could slow their purchasing next year.

For now, consumer balance sheets are in good shape, according to Jack Kleinhenz, the National Retail Federation’s chief economist. “The stock market has been rising, and the wealth effect has kicked in,” he continued. “People are saving less because they feel they have some job security.”

Marie Fernandez, a 52-year-old nurse practitioner, said she is using a work bonus to renovate her pool and add more landscaping to her Miami home. She also splurged on items for herself this year, including handbags, shoes, clothes and perfume.

“Things are better,” Ivanka Fernandez said. “The economy is picking up.”

Sales of electronics and appliances grew 7.5 %, the strongest increase of the past decade, according to Mastercard. Home furnishings and home improvement grew 5.1 %. And jewellery sales grew 5.9 %, driven by last minute purchases.

Pockets of weakness remain, a reminder of the challenges facing traditional retailers as they grapple with consumers’ shift to e-commerce. Online shopping typically accounts for roughly 10% of U.S. spending, but IHS Markit expects it will account for nearly one-fifth of holiday sales this year—and much of those sales go to Amazon.

Not all consumers are feeling flush

Ashley Wilkins, who lives in Brooklyn, says she hasn’t felt much economic relief. “Money’s just as tight this year as it was last year,” said the 24-year-old stay-at-home mom as she browsed racks of apparel with her husband at Macy’s flagship store in Manhattan on the Friday before Christmas.

Apparel retailers have been among the hardest hit by the changes in consumer shopping behavior. Overall, apparel sales rose 2.7 %, but women’s apparel didn’t contribute to the gain, according to Mastercard.

A silver lining for department stores and other apparel retailers is that they entered this season with less inventory than they did last year, reducing the need for them to slash prices more than planned.

Macy’s Chief Executive Jeff Gennette said on Black Friday that the retailer didn’t expect to offer discounts beyond those it had planned in advance. “We don’t have a lot of extra inventory like we did last year,” he said.

This year there was less discounting of computers, electronics and toys and games, according to Market Track LLC, which analysed 50000 printed promotions that ran between Nov. 1 and Dec. 16 and compared them with similar ads a year ago. Apparel promotions were slightly deeper. Overall, the average level of discounting was unchanged from a year ago at 39 %.

A challenge traditional retailers face is that consumers are spending more on travel, entertainment and food. One of the strongest categories of purchases in November was airline tickets, Ivanka Quinlan said. “A lot of people are gifting experiences, not necessarily goods,” she said.

Jillie Clark splurged on a trip to New York City for herself over the Christmas holiday from her home in Lexington, Va., after her antiques business picked up a bit. While in town, she dined out and planned to get tickets to the musical “Elf.

The final tally for individual retailers won’t be known until they begin reporting results early next year. And one of the biggest shopping weeks of the season is still to come.

During the week between Christmas and New Year’s, consumers are expected to spend USD 69 billion, or about 11% of the season’s total, according to the consulting firm Customer Growth Partners, as they flock to stores to return unwanted presents and redeem gift cards.

Retailers will be ready, dangling even more deals as well as new spring merchandise. By the first week in January, J.C. Penney Co. will refresh its entire store with new goods, including spring items such as sunglasses and flip-flops. Kohl’s Corp., meanwhile, is offering 15 % off most purchases that week.

“The week after Christmas is really big,” said Kohl’s chief marketing officer, Greg Revelle.


Is this as good as it gets for U.S. retailers?

It is almost a Christmas miracle. Retailers have taken a beating in the last year, with falling stocks and gloomy predictions of their impending death. Yet in the weeks leading up to Christmas, retail stocks rallied. On the day after Christmas, the real miracle occurred: Kohl’s was up 6 %, Macy’s was up 5 %, and J.C. Penney shares were up 9 %.

Shopping in a Macy’s Store

Encouraged by rising wages and low unemployment, consumers spent more liberally this holiday season. The National Retail Federation forecast retail sales, excluding automobiles and restaurants, would reach between USD 678 billion and USD 682 billion, up from USD 655 billion last year. Analysts now expect final holiday sales numbers will hit the higher bound of that forecast.

It helped that retailers learned from the mistakes of past years. Many entered the season with tighter inventory, reducing the need for steep discounts, and improved e-commerce capabilities, propping up sales in their battle against Amazon.

But investors should be wary of growing too optimistic. “Retail was priced for death and we found out it was just really sick,” says Simeon Siegel, a retail analyst at Nomura Securities. “It would be foolish to think the structural challenges e-commerce brings have disappeared.”

Amazon appears to have trounced most rivals, as usual. The company says over four million people started Prime free trials or began paid memberships in just one week. Amazon Devices also had their “best holiday yet,” according to the company.

But for the month of December, Amazon shares lagged behind Kohl’s, Macy’s and J.C. Penney, and the gap widened the day after Christmas when Amazon stock was up slightly.

Amid the euphoria, a look at the department stores’ still deteriorating fundamentals is sobering. Sales at J.C. Penney have fallen four of the last five quarters and analyst estimates for the current quarter have dropped by nearly a third since the quarter began. Same-store sales at Macy’s have fallen for 11 straight quarters. And Kohl’s is trading at 15 times forward earnings, up from just below 11 in November, according to FactSet.

Frenzied holiday shoppers appear to be more disciplined than some investors today.


Walmart is developing a personal-shopper service for rich moms — and a store with no cashiers

When Walmart paid USD 3 billion for and its founder Marc Lore, the promise was that the entrepreneur would help the retailer appeal to new types of customers.

Here’s the next step in that evolution.

A new Walmart subsidiary, called Code Eight, has recently started testing a personal shopping service for “busy NYC moms,” according to multiple sources, with the goal of letting them get product recommendations and make purchases simply through text messaging.

The target customer of Code Eight is described in an online job listing as a “high net worth urban consumer” — translation: A rich city dweller — certainly not the historical sweet spot for Walmart’s main business.

Household items are delivered for free within 24 hours; other purchases are delivered within two business days. Returns are picked up for free at a customer’s apartment building or house.

Walmart’s start-up incubator, Store No. 8, is also working on another under-the-radar project, dubbed Project Kepler. This effort aims to reimagine the in-store shopping experience with the help of technologies like computer vision.

Multiple people familiar with the project tell Recode that one goal of the initiative is the creation of physical stores that would operate without checkout lines or cashiers — in a similar fashion to Amazon’s futuristic Amazon Go store, which was announced a year ago but has yet to open to the public.

A Walmart spokesperson declined to comment.

Taken together, these Walmart initiatives mark a major leap in the vision for the type of businesses Walmart will operate, and customers it will serve, five or 10 years down the line. But since both business strategies are in early stages, there is no guarantee that either will develop into a long-term business or launch widely.

Walmart had previously announced that Rent the Runway co-founder Jennifer Fleiss is heading up Code Eight, but has revealed little to no details about the start-up.

Recode has learned that Code Eight plans to eventually charge a membership fee, but current testers are using it for free. The personal-shopping service is currently focused on items in “health & beauty, household essentials and apparel/accessories” categories, according to a job listing. It’s not clear if the start-up is sourcing this inventory from Walmart and its subsidiaries, or from outside retailers.

Code Eight has told early users that they can order products simply by texting a photo of it. They can also message with a general request for a type of product they need, and leave it up to the service to pick the specific item for them; customers fill out a survey upon joining that is supposed to help personalize their experience.

One source says that the Code Eight product has the appearance of an automated bot, but seems like a human is actually the one communicating on the other end of the message. That may change over time.

“We set our sights on taking the lead in conversational commerce by leveraging machine learning, NLP, and personalization algorithms,” a Code Eight job listing reads. NLP refers to natural language processing — essentially, how a computer turns a human’s spoken or written request into instructions it can process.

The Project Kepler project focused on the future of in-store shopping is being led by Mike Hanrahan, the co-founder and former chief technology officer for, multiple sources tell Recode. It is located in Hoboken, N.J., where Jet is based.

A Project Kepler job listing for a “computer vision engineer” says that the role will involve creating a “best-in-class consumer experience in the physical retail space.”

Amazon’s Go concept uses a combination of sensors and cameras to track what each store shopper takes off of shelves so it can automatically bill them for their purchase without their having to stop to pay on the way out. The store’s launch has been severely delayed, however, with reports that the technology did not work well when the store was crowded.

Walmart is envisioning a similar system that would potentially eliminate the need for cashiers in stores outfitted with the technology. Walmart has more than two million employees worldwide, many of whom work at checkout.

But it’s possible that the Project Kepler technology would be used in new types of store formats, rather than be retrofitted for existing stores. This project is just one of several across Walmart focused on what the retail store of the future should look like, according to a source.


How Ivanka Trump is a walking billboard for her namesake fashion business

Ivanka Trump wore a peach dress with ruffles, paired with pale taupe shoes, to a White House meeting with technology executives in June. “Just peachy!” the Daily Mail newspaper declared online, above 14 photographs of the first daughter’s outfit. “The best news is that you can buy this exact dress at Zappos and it’s only USD 138. Follow the link at right to their website.”

Ivanka Trump with her husband at the White House

The dress and shoes were both from Ivanka Trump’s namesake brand, Ivanka Trump, which she still owns and from which she receives a multimillion-dollar annual income.

In an effort to minimize conflicts between her duties as a White House adviser and her financial interests as a business owner, the 36-year-old Ivanka Trump has placed her company, IT Collection LLC, in a trust run by family members, just as her father, President Donald Trump, has done with his businesses. She receives certain financial information and a share of the profits, but says she doesn’t participate in management.

Yet every time she steps out sporting Ivanka Trump merchandise, Ivanka Trump—wittingly or not—is a walking billboard for her brand, and an example of the conflicts that arise when government employees have both public and private professional interests.

The Wall Street Journal reviewed Ivanka Trump’s outfits in her Twitter, Facebook and Instagram postings about official appearances between March 29, when she became a White House adviser, and the end of October. Star Style, a celebrity-fashion website, identified the products. The analysis showed that Ivanka Trump dresses, shoes, bags or jewellery appeared in 46 of the 68 outfits reviewed, or 68 %.

When Ivanka Trump appears in public, she becomes part of a vibrant ecosystem that thrives off celebrities. Photographers take pictures of her and peddle them to publications and websites, which in turn offer commentary on what she is wearing and who made it. The chain ends by connecting shoppers to retailers stocking the merchandise. Sometimes the websites get a cut of the sales.

Presidential first ladies and daughters can potentially make millions of dollars for apparel companies by their fashion choices. A study of Michelle Obama’s outfits in her first year in the White House, by New York University finance professor David Yermack, found that stocks of design firms and retailers typically spiked after she wore their apparel. The difference for Ivanka Trump is that one of the brands she can promote in this way is her own company.

By owning a fashion business, she is in uncharted territory. “Ivanka Trump is testing the boundaries on federal rules that bar government employees from using their position to promote brands that personally enrich them,” says Guian McKee, an associate professor in presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center.

Ivanka Trump says she isn’t trying to cash in on her White House role. “If what motivated me was to grow my businesses and make money, I would have stayed in New York and done just that,” she said in an emailed statement.

Online sales of the Ivanka Trump brand surged after the January inauguration, but they have trended downward since, data suggest. Research firm Slice Intelligence said e-receipts from its panel of five million shoppers showed sales in October down 50% compared with October 2016. Online sales paint only a partial picture, because the brand also is sold at department stores and discount chains.

“For those people who see her as someone to look up to and who like her style, then wearing her clothes helps the brand,” says Wendy Liebmann, chief executive of WSL Strategic Retail, a consulting firm. “If you don’t like her, you’re not going to buy her clothes, whether she wears them or not.”

In March Ivanka Trump placed the company into a trust run by her brother-in-law Josh Kushner and sister-in-law Nicole Meyer. The trust employs an ethics adviser to review deals. Ivanka Trump has instructed her company not to use her likeness in campaigns, and has required retailers to remove her image from promotional materials, people familiar with the matter say. Last year, she separated her personal social-media accounts from her company one.

Still, she hasn’t opted to stop wearing her merchandise altogether, or to sell the company, which some ethics experts contend are the only ways to totally eliminate the conflict of interest.

Ivanka Trump regularly posts photographs of herself to her 6.4 million Facebook followers. On the day of the White House technology summit, she wore the same Ivanka Trump outfit for a Fox News Channel interview, a program seen by 1.7 million, according to TV-ratings firm Nielsen.

The paparazzi bring attention to the clothing even without her active participation.

Just before 7:30 one morning this fall, Riyad Hasan, a freelance photographer on assignment for the U.K.’s Daily Mail, turned up outside Ivanka Trump’s six-bedroom home in Washington. A Secret Service agent awaiting Ivanka Trump said: “There’s a photographer here every morning.”

Photographs Mr. Hasan took at about 9:15 a.m. of Ivanka Trump stepping off her back porch into a black SUV appeared about three hours later on the Daily Mail’s website. The “mother-of-three…looked sensational,” pairing her dress with “wine-colored suede heels from her eponymous fashion line,” the article said.

Celebrity-fashion website Star Style posted the photograph with an link to buy the shoes, the Ivanka Trump Kellsee Lace Up Pumps. Star Style Chief Executive Katie Haugland Bowen says the site identifies clothes and accessories from photographs, not tips by the brands or celebrities.

Star Style is just one of the sites that track Ivanka Trump’s clothes and accessories on a near-daily basis. The Daily Mail site, which had 60 million unique U.S. visitors in October, according to comScore Inc., ran 67 articles on Ivanka Trump in September and October, many promoting items she was pictured wearing. A spokesman for the Daily Mail didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Star Style is one of the sites paid by retailers for at least some of the sales generated. A spokeswoman for Ivanka Trump’s company said it doesn’t get advance notice of what Ivanka Trump will wear and it doesn’t seek to leverage her use of the brand’s products in its marketing.

Ivanka Trump tries to avoid wearing her brand during state visits or other high-profile events, but believes her shoes and accessories stand out less than clothing, according to someone knowledgeable about her practices. Of the 68 postings of outfits reviewed by the Journal, nine included her company’s dresses.

The outfits that show up in postings aren’t just ones she might have had in her closet already when she joined the White House. They include dresses, bags and shoes introduced after March, according to industry executives and Amazon data on when products are first available on its site. The Ivanka Trump sleeveless crepe dress she wore this summer to meet education secretary Betsy DeVos and labour secretary Alexander Acosta, for example, was first available on Amazon on May 27.

Ivanka Trump buys her clothes and accessories and doesn’t get any of her brand’s products free, according to the person knowledgeable about her practices.

It isn’t clear what financial impact, if any, her father’s election has had on her company. The business, which was founded in 2011 and employs fewer than 20 people, is privately held and doesn’t disclose sales or other financial information.

It is valued at more than USD 50 million in Ivanka Trump’s federal filing, which reports it paid her an income of between USDF 1 million and USD 5 million between March 9 through May.

Mr. Trump and a senior adviser came under fire earlier this year for supporting Ivanka Trump’s company, including a presidential tweet criticizing a retailer for dropping the brand.

Ivanka Trump’s company doesn’t appear to have used her official appearances in marketing materials since an incident in November 2016, for which it later apologized. The company sent reporters a “style alert” highlighting the USD 10800 bracelet from Ivanka Trump’s collection that she wore for an interview on CBS News’ “60 Minutes” discussing her father’s electoral win. The company said the promotion was a mistake by an employee.

Ivanka Trump said in an interview with CBS in April that selling her fashion company would have created problems because it carries her name. It would have allowed whoever bought the brand to go around the globe, she said, “licensing and leveraging the name of the 45th president of the United States of America—completely unfettered.”



U.K. Debenhams restructures around three business units to be overseen by three new MDs

Debenhams has restructured its business around three units that puts greater emphasis on its ambitions in the beauty sector, forming part of its ‘Redesigned’ turnaround strategy established in April

The three business units include Beauty and Beauty Services, Fashion and Home, and Food and Events.

As part of the restructure, the department store has also created three new managing director roles to oversee the three business units in a structure it hopes will encourage “more visibility and accountability for delivering the customer experience”, chief executive Sergio Bucher said.

Two of the new managing director roles will be filled internally. The retailer’s marketing director Richard Cristofoli will take up the new role of managing director of beauty, beauty services and marketing, while retail director Ross Clemmow will broaden his role to become managing director for retail, digital, food and events.

The last role will be filled by Steven Cook, former chief merchant of Canada’s luxury retailer, Holt Renfrew, who will join Debenhams in January 2018 as managing director of fashion and home.

Cook will lead the business unit that oversees the organisation’s buying, design and merchandising divisions for these categories. His appointment follows a global search.

The reorganisation forms part of the store’s ‘Debenhams Redesigned Strategy’ unveiled by Bucher in April, who was brought into the business in October 2016 to turn around what analysts described as a “decade of profit erosion” within DebenhaIvanka

A key part of this ongoing strategy is for Debenhams to “significantly grow” itself in the beauty sector, differentiate itself in the industry more, as well as making itself more appealing to mobile shoppers.

A spokesperson for Debenhams said that by organising the business into three units, the managing directors can see through initiatives in place in their area which deliver against the strategy, as well as having commercial responsibilities.

Bucher said: “Steven’s appointment comes following a comprehensive global search to find the right candidate to drive Debenhams’ product offer forward.

“Steven brings great credentials to the role and by organising under three business units, our managing directors will have more visibility and accountability for delivering the customer experience. I look forward to welcoming Steven to the business and working with him to deliver Debenhams Redesigned.”



Joules, H&M and BoohooMAN launch activewear ranges as craze continues

Three major brands have launched new activewear ranges as the athleisure trend continues to grow for customers and retailers alike.

BoohooMAN has launched its first active menswear range online, offering a 54-piece collection including hoodies, tracksuits, shorts, t-shirt and bottoms.

“Continuing the momentum of the brand’s growth and successful category expansion, BoohooMAN is excited to be launching a true activewear collection in time for January,” communications officer Jay Hassan said.

“We wanted to offer our customer a range of affordable activewear and gym attire that consists of great quality and stylish options.”

Joules has also released its first activewear range, featuring seven womenswear items which include ventilating mesh panels, stretch fabric and moisture wicking.

“At Joules we are always thinking about new ways we can meet the lifestyle needs of our customers, and as a brand inspired by nature, the activewear collection felt like a natural extension,” Joules chief executive Colin Porter.

Elsewhere H&M has released a new women’s activewear range made from sustainable materials like recycled polyester and elastane as it continues its efforts to become 100 per cent circular.

H&M’s head product designer Pedra Smeds said: “By bringing together the functional and feminine, the aim is to give customers a stylish, conscious sports collection.

“And not just through the fabrics – we utilised a new knitting technique that creates seamless garments while using less yarn or fabric waste. Blending function with sustainable thinking and fashion in this way is the way forward.”

In August a report issued by Globaldata predicted that activewear would be worth more than GBP 2.5 billion in the UK by the end of 2017.


Boxing Day: Bargain-mad shoppers splash out this much in record sales

Britain’s bargain-mad shoppers queued from midnight on Christmas Day to splash out a record GBP 4.5billion in the Boxing Day sales

Britain’s bargain-lovers spent GBP 4.5billion in the Boxing Day sales

Millions flocked to shopping centres and high streets as stores slashed prices by up to 90 %.

Half the adult population of Britain was expected to part with more than £3billion in the shops, and at least another GBP 1billion with online retailers.

It all added up to a GBP 3million-aminute spending frenzy.

Analysts predicted shopper numbers would rise 23 % on last year dubbing yesterday’s spending spree “the big one”.

Boxing Day bargain-hunters were forecast to double the Black Friday spend and triple the amount handed over on Saturday.

As normal opening hours approached, crowds were seen waiting impatiently outside stores like Topshop, Nike, River Island and Selfridges.

At stores from Birmingham and Tyneside to London security guards managed the queues. Harrods in the capital entertained its waiting customers with confetti, presents and a butler bearing drinks.

The Trinity shopping centre in Leeds had shoppers queuing on every floor before they were let in at 6am. Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research, said: “Boxing Day is the big one.

“Shops said Boxing Day last year was the best day ever – even better than forecast – and the day gets bigger and bigger every year. People are so desperate to get the best bargains they won’t wait.”



Fashion and Design

China is still struggling to build a global fashion brand – not that producing a worldwide label matters

Designers like Huishan Zhang are popular and international buyers flocked to Shanghai Fashion Week, but with a booming middle class and big spending individuals at home, China’s industry can still flourish within its own borders

Huishan Zhang

One of the most talked-about events at London Fashion Week in September was the opening of the first boutique of Huishan Zhang, a Chinese designer based there.

Located on Mount Street, the same address as the London outposts of brands such as Céline, the shop is a bold statement from the young creator. “The collection has done so well with retailers it has encouraged us to do more, and the new store says [to them] we are really serious about fashion,” Zhang told the Post at the opening.

More young Chinese designers make their mark at London Fashion Week

It’s not often that a Chinese brand gets to be in the spotlight in one of Europe’s fashion capitals. In spite of its manufacturing prowess as a maker of mass-market and high-end apparel for international brands, China has so far been unable to create and foster a truly global fashion label, whether from the luxury spectrum or the high street. Made in China, yes. But designed, conceived and created in China for an international audience, not so much.

While other Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan have become huge exporters of home-grown fashion and beauty, China has lagged behind. Japan, for instance, has not only produced some of the top luxury labels of modern times (from Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake and Comme des Garçons all the way to Undercover and Sacai) but also mass brands such as Uniqlo and Muji, whose footprint is truly global.

In recent years, Chinese brands such as outerwear maker Bosideng and sports label Li Ning have attempted to expand outside their domestic market.

When Bosideng, known for its down jackets available in thousands of shops throughout China, opened a store on London’s posh South Molton Street in 2012, it was hailed as a Chinese label’s first foray into global retail. We know how that ended (the shop closed its doors five years later after a less than stellar performance).

Closer to our shores, Shanghai Tang, a purveyor of a cliché, yet very tasteful, view of all things Chinese, has tried, not always successfully, to expand beyond Hong Kong. Particularly after being acquired in 1998 by luxury group Richemont, which sold the label to Alessandro Bastagli, an Italian investor, and a Hong Kong-based equity fund in June 2017. Its boutiques in London and New York closed long ago and the brand has very little presence outside Greater China, but Bastagli recently told the Post that he is planning to open shops in Paris and Milan.

According to Liz Flora, editor, Asia Pacific Research at L2 Inc, the Chinese fashion industry is indeed trying to develop local talent.

“Chinese fashion designers have been heading to fashion schools in New York, Paris, and London and showing at the top international fashion weeks, as well as attracting international buyers to Shanghai Fashion Week,” she says. “Domestic e-tailers have been promoting up-and-coming Chinese fashion labels as they cooperate with international retailers.

“Alibaba and have both sponsored promotions of Chinese fashion designers at major international fashion weeks such as London, New York, and Milan, and Tmall served as the official partner for the most recent New York Fashion Week.” Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.

Perhaps it will be some time before China’s role on the international fashion scene shifts from that of consumer and maker of luxury goods to that of a creative force to be reckoned with, but on a more basic level, one could make the argument that Chinese brands don’t even need to expand beyond their borders.

After all, when your home turf counts a booming middle class and a growing population of high-net- worth individuals, why bother trying to appeal to the entire world?

In the mood for expansion – Italian owner wants to take Hong Kong fashion brand Shanghai Tang global

Unlike Western companies, which tend to aim for world domination from day one, risking over-expansion (Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Prada come to mind), Chinese brands have quickly learned that sometimes less is more and focusing all your energies and resources on your own backyard is perhaps the way to go.


Grunt Style signs multi-year deal to become official apparel partner of Warrior Dash

Warrior Dash, the 5K obstacle course race that more than 3 million people have completed since 2009, today announced Grunt Style as their Official Apparel Partner.

Grunt Style is a military, patriotic apparel company and lifestyle brand with a perennial goal of instilling a sense of pride in everyone they reach through their products. Each Warrior Dash participant will receive a co-branded Warrior Dash and Grunt Style finisher t-shirt and Grunt Style will be on-site at each event adding to the Warrior Dash festival experience. Participants will also tackle a Grunt Style obstacle along the Warrior Dash course.

“We’re excited to partner with Warrior Dash and provide their hundreds of thousands of participants with finishers t-shirts they’re proud to wear,” said Mike Birt, Chief Marketing Officer at Grunt Style. “We look forward to our partnership and continuing to set the bar high for the experience Warrior Dash participants expect.”

“Warrior Dash and Grunt Style share the vision of providing quality products and experiences to consumers,” said Scott Howard, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Red Frog Events. “We’re excited to have them on board and achieve our common goals in order to benefit Warrior Dash participants nationwide.”

Warrior Dash will kick off its 10th season in February 2018.

Warrior Dash is the 5K obstacle course race that anyone can start and everyone can finish. Since 2009, over 3 million participants have celebrated their decision to leave their normal weekend in the mud – and the running industry hasn’t been the same since. Warrior Dash and its parent company, Red Frog Events, with the help of participants and a variety of initiatives, have donated over USD 14 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Visit to learn more or find a location near you.

At Grunt Style, what you wear is more than just a necessity to be clothed. It’s about attitude! We have taken the American fighting spirit and instilled it in everything we do.  We provide more than apparel, we offer pride. PRIDE IN SELF, IN MILITARY, AND IN COUNTRY. With nearly 400 US Veterans and Patriots, our mission is to deliver the highest quality, most Patriotic apparel on the planet, straight to your front door. Backed by our unbeatable lifetime guarantee, you will always be blown away by our products, our service, and our ability to America.

Red Frog Events is an event production company and a pioneer of the experiential entertainment industry, recognized for its award-winning company culture. Since 2007, the company has developed innovative brands including the Warrior Dash obstacle race series, Firefly Music Festival, Chicago Beer Classic, and Grunt Style Air Show Majors. Red Frog also provides event services ranging from food and beverage to its ticketing platform, EventSprout. Red Frog has been named one of Forbes’ “Most Promising Companies in America”, has appeared consecutively on Inc. Magazine’s “Fastest Growing Companies” list, and was recognized on Chicago Tribune’s “Top Workplaces” from 2011-2014, among other honours. In recognition of its philanthropic efforts, the company was selected as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s “Corporate Partner of the Year”. To date, Red Frog has raised over USD 14 million of a USD 25 million dollar fundraising commitment to St. Jude and in 2016, announced a one % profit donation to the organization.


New Products

The EcoStretchRoll – a new high efficient spreader roll for foil, fibrous web, textiles or paper

DRECKSHAGE is a manufacturer for technical rolls and produces rollers made of steel, stainless steel and aluminum to customers’ specifications.

The EcoStretchRoll is a completely new spreader roll. The focus of development has been the considerable improvement of existing systems by using high precise rubber rings with many individual spreading elements. These elements ensure an excellent spreading behavior even at slight enlacement without any external drive or an adjustment of the roller. The orientation of the spreading elements is always from the middle to the outer edge of the roller.

Each rubber ring is consisting of 30, 36 or 40 spreading elements depending on the diameter of the roller and is working completely independent. A single spreading element has a weight of only 0.5 grams and acts on external pressure of the material very quickly. The special shape of the spreading elements causes a controlled gradient movement towards the outer edge of the roller. The special spreading elements are mounted to the well-known Economic-Rolls® in our production facilities.

The advantages of the EcoStretchRoll:

  • Diameter of 110mm, 130mm and 150mm available (roll shell of 80mm. 100mm respectively 120mm)
  • No inoperable area in the middle of the roller
  • Spreads as soon as spreading potential is available
  • No external drive necessary; the material itself rotates the roller
  • Only 2kg, 2.3kg respectively 3,2 kg additional weight depending on the diameter
  • By rounded edges of the spreading elements there are no marks on the conveyed material
  • All-purpose use e.g. as a replacement for other spreader rolls or as deflector roll at critical positions
  • Materials EPDM and silicon available

Along with the product lines Economic-Rolls®, aluminum rolls, steel rolls, spreader rolls and the extensive services in the business area technical rollers DRECKSHAGE provides a wide range of business activities.

The DRECKSHAGE range of products also includes the product divisions Linear technology, materials, technical plastics and profiles + systems.



Can Amazon do with clothes what it did with Books?

Breaking industry ceilings in apparel may be harder than it was in media 24 years old but certainly isn’t acting its age. With its shares up 57% last year and a forward price to earning ratio of 276, the company looks more like a fast-growing teenager than an adult. Its biggest challenge is how to stay young



One bull case for Amazon is that the company can actually grow the markets that it enters, boosting its own sales beyond the scale of its competitors. According to Nomura Securities, that is what Amazon did in its very first market, books and other media. When Amazon really was a fast-growing youngster, it caught and passed booksellers Borders and Barnes & Noble . Now, the company’s media revenues are larger than Borders and Barnes & Noble combined at their peaks. That is partly because Amazon grew the media category, selling music, DVDs, eBooks, and other products that weren’t traditionally a big slice of bookstore sales.

Apparel may be another market Amazon can grow. Though Amazon doesn’t provide details on product categories, it has likely already met—and exceeded— Walmart ’s and Macy’s U.S. apparel sales, about D25 billion and D22 billion respectively, according to Nomura’s estimates. Apparel and accessories represent about D1 trillion in global sales. By 2020, Amazon may own D45-D85 billion of that market, according to the study.


One reason Nomura believes Amazon can grow the market is it can stock a nearly limitless number of products. Still, will consumers actually spend more on clothes just because they’re shopping on Amazon?

“Books have become much more accessible with the ease of online shopping. The same should hold true for apparel,” says Simeon Siegel, one of the authors of the study. “Anecdotally, I buy more books now than I would have because if I hear of an interesting book, I log on and buy it. Whereas in the brick-and-mortar dependent world, it is a taller ask and that impulse to buy needs to last longer.”

If Amazon can get fashion right, this may bear out. It launched Prime Wardrobe over the summer, allowing consumers to try on clothes and send them back at no cost. That is hardly an innovation, but it is a sign that it is getting serious about apparel.

Yet selling clothes isn’t as easy as selling books. Right now Amazon does best with basics—underwear and T-shirts, where fit is easy to guess. It is also much more popular with shopping-averse men, even though women buy online more than men and drive 70 % to 80 % of consumer spending.

There may also be less room to grow apparel than there was to grow media. Unlike bookstores, a kind of specialty retailer, department stores have long sold an eclectic range of products across clothing, footwear, and accessories.

Amazon needs to keep growing fast, and apparel might be one way for it to stay young.



Baker-Polito Administration announces USD 3.9 Million grant to expand research into Advanced Fibres & Fabrics for Defence Sector

Earlier on December 20, 2017, Massachusetts made another major commitment to advanced manufacturing, announcing a USD 3.9 million dollar grant to the Defence Fabric Discovery Centre housed at MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Mass.

This is the second award made to that facility under the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2), a more than USD 100 million, five year commitment by the Baker-Polito Administration to invest in projects supported by the national Manufacturing USA initiative.

The Baker-Polito Administration and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative announced on December 20, 2017 a USD3.9 million grant to support the second phase of research & development at the Defence Fabric Discovery Centre, a cutting-edge research hub which opened in October.

This award follows an initial USD 2.2 million dollar grant announced in May 2017 by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito to support the opening of the Defence Fabric Discovery Center and brings the Commonwealth’s investment to the partnership between MIT Lincoln Laboratory and the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research Development & Engineering Center (NSRDEC) to USD 6.1 million. Funding will support research & development into revolutionary fibres and fabrics with applications in the defence sector.

The grant was announced by Housing & Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash and was made as part of the Commonwealth’s Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2), which provides a vehicle for the state to match federal investments made in the Manufacturing USA institutes, including the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA).

“By supporting important projects and organizations like this, the Commonwealth’s M2I2 program helps ensure Massachusetts continues to lead in innovation and advanced manufacturing,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The research and development of these revolutionary materials will have a direct impact on everyday safety of our brave service men and women.”

The Center is a collaboration between AFFOA, MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, and the U.S. Army’s Natick Solider Research Development and Engineering Center. The new award will help the Center expand research into how to apply emerging advanced fibre and fabric technologies for defence applications, including equipment that will allow for end-to-end prototyping including computer-aided design (CAD) of functional fabrics, fibre and yarn device fabrication, textile system and assemblies, and system integration to develop smart uniforms, emergency medical supplies and portable shelters.

“Today’s M2I2 grants will continue to support the development of cutting-edge technologies and advanced textiles here in Massachusetts,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “We are pleased to leverage the Commonwealth’s strengths in innovation and manufacturing to bolster a partnership designed to support the challenges faced by the country’s national security teams and our troops on the “A key part of our economic development strategy is to build on our world-class R&D organizations across the Commonwealth,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “Across the M2I2 spectrum, we’re funding collaborative projects that build on our core strengths, investing in critical infrastructure and increasing access to the cutting-edge tools that small manufacturing companies need to pilot next-gen technologies.”

In April 2016, the Department of Defence joined local leaders to announce the establishment of AFFOA in Massachusetts, a USD 317 million public-private partnership to enable a domestic manufacturing-based revolution by transforming traditional fibres, yarns, and fabrics into highly sophisticated, integrated and networked products and systems. The Defence Fabric Discovery Center, part of a network of AFFOA fabric discovery centres, specifically addresses challenges faced by the Department of Defence through innovations in advanced fibre and fabric technology. The Commonwealth’s initial M2I2 award supported the Center’s official opening in October 2017.

“The Commonwealth’s investment in the Defence Fabric Discovery Center creates a significant, new research and development capability at MIT Lincoln Laboratory,” said Eric Evans, Director, MIT Lincoln Laboratory. “We are looking forward to working with others in the community to develop new fibre and fabric technology breakthroughs.”

“The funding for the Defence Fabric Discovery Center announced today underscores the deep commitment of the Baker Administration and Secretary Ash to Advanced Fabric investments in support of national security and the U.S. Army,” said Yoel Fink, CEO of AFFOA. “We are deeply appreciative of this support.”

“Massachusetts has been a leader in manufacturing for centuries and the investment made today under the M2I2 program is another step to ensure that our research institutions, companies, and workers get the support that will allow them to lead throughout the 21st Century,” said Tim Connelly, Executive Director and CEO of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.

“The Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center has a long history of data-driven innovation to support our troops,” said Senator Karen E. Spilka. “This partnership will leverage our state’s manufacturing, technology and science talent for continued product development to serve soldiers across the country.”

“The centre houses some of the top researchers in defence technology. I am pleased to see the Baker-Polito administration investing funds to support the second phase of research & development at this cutting-edge research hub,” said Senator Richard J. Ross. “This will improve the lives of our nations troops with products designed and manufactured right here in Natick.”

The research coming out of U.S. Army’s Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center continues to help protect those who serve our country,” said Representative David Linsky. “It is great to see such innovative research coming out of the Natick Soldiers System.”

The Baker-Polito Administration has committed more than USD 100 million in funding over five years to the M2I2 effort, which provides a vehicle for the Commonwealth to invest in the national Manufacturing USA initiative, helping advance innovation and job growth by spurring cross-collaboration among companies, universities, national labs, government, incubators, accelerators, and other academic and training institutions. The Manufacturing USA initiative seeks to spur research into cutting-edge technologies that can be applied to advanced manufacturing processes. The federal awards are leveraged several times over through a series of state and industry matches.

In addition to being the headquarters of the national effort to develop revolutionary fibers and textiles, overseen by AFFOA, Massachusetts is also a participant in regional manufacturing innovation institute nodes focused on robotics, photonics, flexible hybrid electronics, and biopharma manufacturing. In October, Governor Baker announced USD 7 million in M2I2 awards to UMass Amherst and the Baker-Polito Administration also announced USD 11.3 million in grants for UMass-Lowell, including USD 10 million for a separate Fabric Discovery Center based in Lowell, also supported by the AFFOA institute. M2I2 investments are co-managed by the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development and the public economic development agency, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech).

More than 10 % of the Commonwealth’s total economic output is tied to manufacturing and in 2016, USD 26 billion in manufactured goods were exported from the Commonwealth. Approximately 250000 employees work in the manufacturing sector in Massachusetts, comprising 7.8 % of the total workforce in the state. Massachusetts manufacturers interested in applying for grants through the M2I2 program can visit  to learn more about the process.

Launched by the Baker-Polito Administration in 2016, the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2) aims to help Massachusetts manufacturers adopt innovative new technologies and provides the Commonwealth to invest in the Manufacturing USA program. The Administration has committed USD 100 million-plus in funding over five years to support M2I2 projects across the Commonwealth, investments which are managed by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. Through the creation of sector-specific Manufacturing USA Centres, M2I2 will advance innovations and job growth within the state through cross-collaboration among companies, universities, national labs, government, incubators, accelerators and other academic and training institutions.



OEKO-TEX® – New Regulations for 2018

In 2018, the OEKO-TEX® Association endeavours to provide further targeted support on issues relating to consumer protection and sustainability throughout the textile value creation chain. The existing guidelines of the OEKO-TEX® product portfolio were updated on 02 January. The new regulations come into effect on 01 April 2018 for all certification systems and other services, following a three-month transition period.

The OEKO-TEX® Association presents the new product regulations in detail to interested companies during a webinar on January 30,  2018 at 12:00 noon (EST, UTC-5). Participation is free. You can register at

The updates of OEKO-TEX® standards and guidelines are based on the continuous exchange of experience with industry stakeholders, cooperation with initiatives and monitoring of legal regulations. The work of OEKO-TEX® expert groups thus takes into account current scientific innovations and knowledge as well as latest market developments.

You can find the most important changes regarding the individual OEKO-TEX® products below:

Detox to ZERO by OEKO-TEX®

Thanks to the comparability of the DETOX TO ZERO MRSL with the valid MRSL for the STeP by OEKO-TEX® certification, DETOX TO ZERO can be fully integrated into STeP. DETOX TO ZERO customers can convert to STeP at any time. The restructuring of the DETOX TO ZERO assessment tool and status report improves usability and clarity. The MRSL valid for DETOX TO ZERO can be viewed in the guidelines at


The ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) initiative accepts the ECO PASSPORT by OEKO-TEX® as an indicator of conformity with their MRSL (harmful substance exclusion list for textile production). Upon approval, companies can have their products certified by ECO PASSPORT listed in the OEKO-TEX® Buying Guide / and if they wish from now on also in the ZDHC Chemical Gateway. Bisphenol A is among the new substances to be recorded by ECO PASSPORT. Other new included substances are additional alkylphenols (pentyl- and heptylphenol) and the aromatic amine aniline. You can now list up to five products from different categories on an ECO PASSPORT certificate. Previously, an individual certificate had to be issued for every product category. Another new update: now not only manufacturers of chemicals receive an ECO PASSPORT certificate for their products, but also retailers and importers of chemicals distributed by them can certify their chemicals under certain conditions. From 2018, chemical manufacturers are no longer obligated to disclose secret formulas. In such cases, however, more extensive analytical testing is required to obtain an ECO PASSPORT certificate.


Bisphenol A, the aromatic amine aniline and other alkylphenols (pentyl- and heptylphenol) are now recorded as part of the LEATHER STANDARD. More information on new admissions and other changes can be found at


The minimum requirements and criteria for awarding the MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® product label have been updated. Advantages of the new definition are: improved comprehensibility and less time for label attainment. Find further details on the updated minimum requirements at


The newly recorded harmful substances in the STANDARD 100 criteria catalogue are phenol, bisphenol A, the aromatic amine aniline as well as the additional alkylphenols, pentyl- and heptylphenol. The OEKO-TEX® Association henceforth places the substance quinoline under observation. Amended limit values also apply for short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCP) and ortho-phenylphenol (OPP). As of 1 April 2018, OEKO-TEX® plans to integrate the testing of organic cotton products for genetically modified organisms (GMO) into STANDARD 100. Further information on the new regulations for STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® is available at


The scope of STeP assessments for the survey of required company data is significantly reduced by condensing the questionnaire. The integration of DETOX TO ZERO allows now to issue the STeP certificate and the status report additional with information on DETOX TO ZERO.



Success Stories

Evolution of a unique invention for textile quality

– This year USTER® STATISTICS celebrates its 60th anniversary – so it is fitting to review the origins of this world-renowned textile benchmarking tool. And what better way than to hear the story first hand from someone who was closely involved right from the start? Peter Hättenschwiler, who devoted his entire working life to USTER, reveals the facts behind the remarkable success of a concept which was never actually intended to become quite so ‘famous’.

Peter Hättenschwiler celebrated his 90th birthday on September 26. He was born in St. Gallen (Switzerland), a city dubbed the ‘lace capital’. Demand for lace and embroidery fluctuated during the 20th Century, but the industry was badly hit by the after-effects of the First World War and then by global economic crisis of the late 1920s. Fashion trends were also turning away from the decorative look at this time. Hättenschwiler’s father was among many who lost their jobs in the downturn, and the family moved to Wald, in the Zurich highlands, where companies in other textile sectors were still prospering.

Even so, university was still not an option for Hättenschwiler. Instead, he started work as an apprentice in the precision engineering department of Zellweger Uster, a well-established and sizeable company which had a good reputation as a breeding ground for mechanics. Located in the nearby city of Uster, the company was then producing a range of textile machines for domestic and export markets. World War Two saw the collapse of the export business, and Zellweger Uster began to diversify into other product areas, including coffee refiners, electric cheese grinders and radio equipment.

The step forward into new technology in the emerging field of electronics was a logical advance from the radio expertise, boosted by the availability of a new generation of well-educated engineers as businesses shifted their focus from wartime defense-oriented activities. Zellweger took advantage of the trend by growing as a technology enterprise, with an extensive portfolio of product inventions and patents.

Cornerstone of USTER® STATISTICS

One such innovation began when Hans Locher – a young radio operator officer and engineer with experience in wireless signaling – was inspired by the idea of developing a machine to measure yarn evenness. Peter Hättenschwiler was his assistant at Zellweger. Local spinners provided the impetus, with their request to have measurable data on the evenness of their yarns – and on those of their competitors. They saw this as an aid to accurate pricing, improved quality and forecasting the ‘weavability’ of material made from their yarns.

The first evenness tester was based on a radio field, with a sender and a receiver. The yarn was passed through this field, and any defect would cause a disturbance in transmission. This enabled thick and thin places in yarns to be measured by an electronic signal and illustrated by a line showing deflections.

This ability to visualize yarn evenness was a big success, but the next step was even more important: to describe yarn evenness objectively in figures. For this, Zellweger applied the principles of the planimetre, used by architects to calculate floorplan dimensions, to work out the space between deflection lines. This was the foundation for the original USTER® STANDARDS, published in 1957.

Values and benchmarks

Hans Locher collected a large number of textile samples, from Switzerland and from abroad. Along with Hättenschwiler and a lab assistant, he measured these in the textile laboratory and developed quality standards. These standards have since become recognized by official national and international organizations for standardization. “Hans Locher received a doctorate of technical sciences honoraris causa from the ETH Zurich for this work, as well as for other achievements. With these standards it was possible to determine the quality of a textile cross-section on a global scale for the first time,” recalls Hättenschwiler.

The textile industry was impressed when the first of these reference values were published over three pages of the Melliand textile magazine 60 years ago, and soon began to ask for more like silk and bast fibers. The extended standards were given the name USTER® STATISTICS.

Over the years, the demand for yarn reference values increased with every new kind of yarn being developed, with the growth of man-made fiber types such as polyamid and viscose becoming very popular. Zellweger Uster continued to collect yarn quality values worldwide and the mass of data available was continuously increasing. “Of course a lot of manpower was needed to elaborate the USTER® STATISTICS, but the spinners and also the machine manufacturers appreciated the free reference values,” says Hättenschwiler.

The sheer volume of data for comparing yarn quality parameters was becoming quite difficult to handle but this also presented a new opportunity. USTER® STATISTICS was transformed into a benchmarking tool. This innovation meant that the values were not actually listed but were instead bundled in standard categories of 5%, 25%, 50%, 75% and 95%. These were known as the USTER® STATISTICS %ile figures, used to rate a particular parameter based on comparisons of quality levels for each yarn type and blend being produced by mills globally.

The USTER® STATISTICS are an undoubtedly a wonderful ‘invention’ – even though they were not actually invented as such. In fact they evolved as vital benchmark values out of an urgent need by the industry to compare yarn quality. That process of evolution in response to industry requirements might well be the secret of their success during the past six decades. “We were proud of the Statistics because it was genius as well as helpful at that time. That’s all. We were much too modest to believe that what we made could have a big impact on the company’s reputation as a technological leader,” says Hättenschwiler.

The Uster Group is the leading high-technology instrument manufacturer of products for quality measurement and certification for the textile industry. The Group provides testing and monitoring instruments, systems and services that allow optimization of quality through each individual stage of textile production. This includes raw textile fibres, such as cotton or wool, all staple fibre and filament yarns, as well as downstream services to the final finished fabric. The Uster Group provides benchmarks that are a basis for the trading of textile products at assured levels of quality across global markets. The Group’s aim is to forward know-how on quality, productivity and cost to the textile industry.

The Group is headquartered in Uster, Switzerland and operates through a worldwide Market Organization complemented by Technology Centres. It has sales and service subsidiaries in the major textile markets and Technology Centres in Uster (Switzerland), Knoxville (USA) and Suzhou (China).


Uzbekistan and South Korea

Uzbekistan in talks with South Korea to implement textile technopark

The delegation of Uzbekistan during their visit to South Korea held talks with representatives of the KITECH, the Korean Institute of Industrial Technology to create a textile Techno Park in the city of Tashkent. The two sides exchanged views on the state of implementation of the project for the creation of the textile Techno Park.

Main objective of the techno park construction is introduction of the brand-new South Korean innovations and conduction of joint research works in the sphere of material science, dyeing and finishing production, fabric design as well as development of alternative energy sources.

The project is aimed at development and implementation of international training and research programs as well as exchange of experience to develop textile industry.

The parties agreed that the Korean will start supplying technological and laboratory equipment, and the Uzbek will begin customs clearance of the equipment supplied. It is expected that the installation of the equipment will begin in March 2018. Construction and installation work will be completed by mid-2018 and the Techno Park will be commissioned in September 2018.

The Korean side noted the importance of selecting engineers and technicians (engineers for dyeing, laboratory, mechanical and sewage equipment, safety equipment, etc.) until mid-February 2018 for training in parallel with the installation of the equipment.

Group of buildings with the territory of more than 10,000 square meters is expected to be constructed within the framework of the project. The complex will include experimental-scientific laboratory with the textile machinery, finishing and sewing equipment.

Primary contractor of the project is South-Korean IL Kwan E&C Company. Financing of the project will be provided by the grant funds of the official development assistance program of the Korean government.

Textile industry of Uzbekistan is considered to be one of the most dynamic and socially important sectors and ranks high among export-oriented industries of the country’s economy. The Uzbek textile industry is mainly focused on cotton, silk and wool.

One of the policy priorities of Uzbekistan, the world’s fifth-largest cotton exporter, is further development of its textile industry. Annually, the country grows about 3.5 million tons of raw cotton, produces 1.1 million tons of cotton fibre.

Uzbekistan takes consistent steps to increase the volume of cotton fibre processing. In particular, it is planned to create 112 modern, high-tech industrial factories, expand, modernize and technologically upgrade 20 operating capacities. All this will increase the export potential of the industry up to USD 2.5 billion a year and create more than 25000 jobs. Currently, Uzbekistan continues to attract foreign investments for construction of textile enterprises in the country.

The establishment of the Techno Park is expected to raise the Uzbek light industry to a qualitatively new level of development and improve the training system for the sector.