Printed clothing trend talk: COVID lessons

by FESPA Staff | 30/11/2021
Printed clothing trend talk: COVID lessons

In our FESPA Innovations & Trends (FIT) virtual event we brought together three printers from across the world to discuss the latest trends in garment decoration and the future of the sector.

The host: Graeme Richardson-Locke: Head of Associations and Technical Lead, FESPA. With 35 years’ experience in the industry, Graeme began as an apprentice and progressed through several directorships before joining FESPA in his current role. He is also a member of the Academy of Screen and Digital Printing Technologies.
The experts:
Samir Sadikoglu, Owner and General Manager of BirSifir Tekstil AS in Turkey. After 24 years with the family business, ETF Tekstil, Samir’s new venture is a contract screen printer for sportswear and fashion manufacturers. He also owns the Grit3.com e-commerce brand.
Raitis Purins, Head of Marketing at Printful, Latvia, an on-demand fulfilment specialist offering e-commerce warehousing, custom print, embroidery and product drop-shipping for online retailers.
Mark Gervais, Director of Screen Print at Ningbo Shenzhou Knitting Company, Shenzhou, China. Mark has worked in screen printing since 1977 and has managed Ningbo’s huge capacity (up to 850,000 pieces a day) since 2009. He is also a member of the Academy of Screen and Digital Printing Technologies.

COVID-19 has accelerated change across many sectors. What will be your main focus over the next 12 months? And what is the biggest lesson that living through the pandemic has taught you?

Mark: It's been interesting. We've been doing a lot of virtual training, a lot of virtual factory tours. We've found some new resources to share information and work with our customers, do product orientation, innovation, and things like that. We continue to partner with the brands and service them.

It's been difficult working from home, but we've all found new opportunities to be creative in the way that we work and do things together. For a while, we saw a drop in sales from some of the bigger brands, but we looked for, and secured, opportunities from some local businesses.

Raitis: I don't know if it's appropriate to use the word ‘fortunate’ to describe being in the e-commerce sector. At one point when COVID hit, there was a long, downward roller coaster ride and we didn't understand when the drop of the sales would stop. But it turned around and started going up and up, because people were saying, "Okay, this is here to stay," and their habits changed. What they previously bought offline they started to buy online.

A major challenge has been the limited capacity in our facilities because we have to keep our employees safe, with social distancing and other measures in place. We had to get through the peak that we usually get in November, December — a huge increase in demand. At one point, in the USA we had to wait two months to receive the T-shirts from our company.

As Head of Marketing, I had to manage customers’ expectations about when they’d receive their orders. For a couple of months, to clear the backlog, we had to do “anti-marketing” making sure our team gets fewer orders. And despite everything, last year we opened additional fulfilment centres in Canada and Spain.

Samir: When the pandemic started, it was a shock for everyone — all the cancellations, delays, postponements, and stuff like that. That started in March and continued until the beginning of the summer. Then, when people started going out again, and the shops reopened, customers started buying goods. But because of all the cancellations, there was a shortage of material and products in the shops. So the rush started then. It was interesting because in Turkey part of our production is fast fashion for fast fashion industries, so we saw a lot of rush orders.

And that’s how it continued, even though demand was less than in the previous year. It looks like everybody's been missing physical shopping, and so they’re looking to go into the stores, touch the material, and be able to buy offline. That's what we are getting prepared for — fast response and quick turnarounds.

You can see the whole conversations here, and for more information on the first day of the FESPA Innovations and Trends Printed Clothing event, visit here.

by FESPA Staff Back to News

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