News from you 8/15/2008

Goodie goodie gum drops, it’s another edition of News From You. If you’re new to these parts, News From You is an ongoing series best described as an eclection of news, the weird, the arcane and the downright useless of interest to F-I infovores. Send your submissions to News From You.
I’m pleased to announce that Renae Hartson’s line, Bodyworks Apparel was featured in the August edition of Apparel. Feel free to congratulate her here or trot over to the thread on the forum. Congratulations Renae, I know you’ve worked hard for this.

Speaking of, the magazine is seeking nominations for Apparel’s annual All-Star Awards:

Apparel’s All-Star Awards recognize apparel retailers, brands and manufacturers that stand out for their achievements in innovation, growth, management and corporate goodwill. Award-winning companies are announced at Apparel’s Tech Conference, held Nov. 5-6 in New York City, and their success stories are shared in the December issue of Apparel Magazine.

To nominate a company, fill out the form here (pdf) and return it to us by August 25th. (If your company is an apparel retailer, brand or manufacturer, you are welcome to nominate your own company. Vendors to the apparel industry are not eligible to be nominated, but may nominate their customers.)

My choice for nominee is here.
I thought this link that JC sent was a riot. It’s an eBay listing for a woman’s blouse factory. Definitely overpriced with a “Buy it now” price of $50,000.

Japan Makes Strides On Textile Recycling (WWD, gated).

Every year in Japan an estimated two million metric tons, or 4.4 billion pounds, of used textile goods are discharged from homes and factories as waste and clothing represents about half of the total. Roughly 260,000 tons, or 13 percent of the total, are being recycled. Japan’s interest in becoming a sustainable society has grown in recent years, prompting textile and apparel manufacturers, as well as retailers, to focus more effort on product recycling.

The association said the seven fiber producers recycled 29,500 metric tons, or 65 million pounds, of PET bottles in fiscal 2006, the latest year for which industry statistics are available. This represents almost double the level of recycling in 2001. The bottles are turned into PET resin, which is raw material for polyester fibers and bottles.

Japanese fiber producers use three major methods of recycling: chemical, melting and thermal. Teijin has been a front-runner in the field and operates a textile-to-textile, bottle-to-bottle and film-to-film chemical recycling facility at its plant in Matsuyama. The company began producing polyester fleece from recycled PET bottles as early as 1993.

Do clicks for charity sites really work? This site says .6 bowls of pet food are donated to feed stray animals for every click. Having been involved in animal rescue, I’m a sucker for these things and will likely go daily on the off chance it does something. You?
Kerryn writes:

I have recently moved to the US (from New Zealand) and I am the fit engineer for a large well known outdoor brand. I bought your book a few years back and have been reading your blog ever since. Considering your wealth of knowledge and experience in the industry I thought you, and/or your readers would be the best person to ask this question. When I moved, I couldn’t ship all of my pattern making supplies with me and have had trouble sourcing just one piece of favorite equipment! Do you have any idea where I can source a ruler like this in the US?

It is sometimes called a grading ruler or fashion gauge. The big selling point over a regular square is the center square line and the seam allowance lines on one edge.

Anyone know? I wrote belatedly. Wish I’d thought to do so before today. I notice Perfect Patterns (NZ) also sells another interesting curve ruler.
Marie-Christine Mahe sends a link to a bullet proof bra designed and used in Germany for women in law enforcement. Looks just like a regular sports bra except it has “Polizei” (police) woven into the band elastic.
The video link of Matt Harding dancing that Melanie Scott sent me was so endearing, I’ve followed up on it. Here’s more background from the NYT. Matt’s travels are underwritten by Stride chewing gum. I’d wondered how he paid for those jaunts. Matt’s latest project is dancing with Yahoo management, rank and file. If you wonder who is Filo (the disarray of Filo’s cube), that’d be David Filo, co-founder of Yahoo. Certainly not what you’d think a billionaire’s office would look like…
Did you know Milwaukee has a “Fashion Week”? I received an announcement soliciting interest in sponsorship and gift bag opportunities for the event but not one soliciting designers. They seem to have scads of activities planned, mostly consumer and beauty related but I only find information on two featured designers. Hmmm.The event opens October 3rd.

Circuitously via the above, I find that fringe is in fashion. Fringe, my favorite. It’s a good thing it’s a pill to cut fringe or every jacket I make would have it whether it needed it or not.

And speaking of Fashion Week events, now San Diego has one. Or did I already announce that? Tickets to the inaugural event have gone on sale. Ponying up the entry fee will get you eight days access to fashion shows, shopping and after parties.
Esther sends a link to this blog posting which makes the point that consumers shouldn’t have to be querying search engines to find out if a brand sizing runs true to size. Get Elastic (a blog on ecommerce) suggests that social commerce -defined as customer to customer contact- should be enabled on product pages. I’ve never heard of the Shoeline‘s Return-O-Meter. Priceless!

Speaking of skill deficits in manufacturing jobs, via the SME newsletter: Gulf Coast shipbuilders join together to find, train more skilled workers.

Louisiana’s New Orleans CityBusiness reported that shipbuilders in the Gulf South region “have enough work to fill more than 3,700 open jobs,” but an “aging workforce and a technical school system they say is not producing enough qualified candidates” is hindering their efforts to “meet the demand.” Therefore, the shipbuilders “have banded together through the Gulf States Shipbuilders Consortium (GSCC) to address the need for more skilled workers.” According to CityBusiness, the GSSC “is working with technical colleges in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi to stage a series of six-week boot camps where job candidates will receive specific training to move into jobs where there is the greatest need at shipyards.” Notably, the students “will not have to pay for the specialized instruction.” CityBusiness explained that the “boot camps would broaden the training available to technical school graduates, who in Louisiana only have an apprenticeship program available through Northrop Grumman.” GSCC “is also launching a marketing campaign this month to drum up interest in the shipbuilding profession.”

Have you heard about the new Speedo LZR Racer for professional athletes? It’s claimed to help one swim faster. At $550 a pop, it should also make you thinner, richer and sexier. It is claimed the suit reduces drag with laser bonded seams (not new by any means) but its compression ability, paradoxically increases oxygen intake by 5%. From the LA Times:

It also compresses a swimmer’s body so much, it often takes an athlete 30 minutes or more to put it on — one inch at a time. Zimbabwe’s Kristy Coventry said putting on the suit is so painful on her fingers, she has to put band-aids on them all the time.

So far, 33 of 36 medal winners in Bejing were wearing the suit but not everyone attributes wearing the suit to winning medals. Some say it’s more likely more previous records have been broken owing to deeper pools. The new pools are three meters deep rather than two, reducing turbulence. More on the LZR suit can be found at the WSJ.
Via Treehugger comes word of dandelion rubber. Discovery says:

Scientists from Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and the Ohio BioProducts Innovation Center (OBIC) recently received a $3 million grant to design and build a processing plant that would turn sticky white dandelion root sap into quality rubber for less money than current methods, say the scientists. “No matter how much chemistry we’ve applied, we still haven’t been able to find an artificial substitute for natural rubber,” said William Ravlin, a researcher involved in the project. “We’re still harvesting [rubber] the same way they did 1,000 years ago; by cutting into the tree and letting the sap drip into containers. It’s not a very efficient system.”

In initial tests the dandelion rubber is of equal quality as traditional rubber derived from the Brazilian rubber tree, the world’s only commercial source of natural rubber. It comes from Southeast Asia, the only region that grows rubber trees. (Disease killed commercial Brazilian rubber trees in South America.) Synthetic rubber can be created, but it doesn’t perform as well as natural rubber because of impurities. Car tires can contain as little as 10 percent natural rubber, but the more demanding the job, the more natural rubber is needed: Airplane tires are 100 percent natural rubber.

The article says that the price of rubber has doubled over the past several years meaning the research could result in significant savings.
Another piece from Treehugger mentions a new plant recently opened by MAS Holdings, the largest apparel producer in Sri Lanka. Via the Economist (ungated here):

AT A SPANKING new lingerie factory in Thulhiriya, a short drive from Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, senior managers wear T-shirts. This is not because MAS Holdings, the country’s biggest apparel company, which recently opened the factory, is a dress-down sort of a firm. It is because the factory has no air-conditioning. Instead it uses evaporative cooling, which leaves the workplace around four degrees hotter than air-conditioning would—but uses much less energy.

The factory has many energy-saving features. Its carefully designed windows provide enough natural light for workers stitching bras. Its turf roofs provide a cooling shade. Overall it uses 40% less energy than an ordinary factory of the same size. And the electricity it uses is from renewable sources: 90% from a hydro-power plant and 10% from on-site solar panels. MAS reckons it has built the world’s first carbon-neutral clothes factory.

Not that this should surprise anyone but the ABA (American Bar Association) is backing the recently proposed federal legislation to enforce copyright protections for fashion designs. My blather on the matter is here.
You think you know something about driving? Take this quiz to find out. A tough quiz, I scored 6/10 which is only due to my arcane perseverations (I actually do know how long the painted white stripes separating freeway lanes are)-and I used to drive a cab. In spite of their bad reputations, cab drivers are easily the safest drivers per mile driven. Did you know that? That’s not in the quiz but the length of painted lines question is so you should get that one right if you look it up ahead of time.
eBay prevails over L’Oreal in a Belgian law suit over the sale of counterfeit products. L’Oréal says it will appeal.
Ebags says (gated, WWD) blogging has helped sales and that conversion for products featured in videos on site has increased “four times”. Not sure I know what that means but the point is made. The article features highlights from the recent WWD leadership summit and details new strategies retailers are using to woo consumers mostly online.

In another article from WWD, DEs interviewed at last week’s Moda Manhattan and FAME, say sales are down by 25% from last year. Independent retailers, in spite of outperforming big box stores or even reporting an increase in sales, say they’re ordering closer to season, buying less and more carefully.
A story from the NYT says “… the federal appeals court in Washington said that just because a software programmer gave his work away did not mean it could not be protected.” Good to know.
The Kostume Kult is up to their old tricks again, “known for giving away 2,000 pounds of sparkling, sequined, saucy costumes to attendees” of Burning Man. This year, attendance is expected to be 48,000. I’ve never been; I’d make it more of a priority if I were at least ten years younger.Folks from here have been but nobody’s ever written a trip report. Bummer that.
Effective January 1st, plastic bags at grocery, drug and convenience stores in Seattle will cost you 20 cents apiece. A ban on plastic foam food and drink containers goes into effect on the same date.
Have a blog? Consider signing up for Blog Action Day held every October 15th. This year’s theme is poverty. You are free to determine your position be it causal, historical, activist, whatever.
Missing a ming? Picasso purloined? If so, the FBI wants to talk to you. It turns out that a huge collection of art belonging to a deceased New York art collector is mostly stolen. Good thing he has no heirs or left a will to quibble with. The FBI says “because of the overwhelming size of the collection and the complex and time-consuming nature of provenance investigations, we decided the best and most expeditious course of action was to publicize the art work to the general public.” So there. Go get your stuff.
From another list, Kathleen Chevalier posts a link to an origami blog. Destined for daily reading, here’s a sample from designer Gareth Pugh (collection).

And speaking of origami, Lisa Blank (our third Lisa B) says:

A co-worker recently shared a video with me about some origami folding principles and how they are being applied in scientific fields, such as telescope lenses and heart stents. The video lecture is 16 minutes, and you may already be familiar with this given your interest in origami.

The video is part of the famed TED conference series and not to be missed. I wonder how someone could garner an invite to TED?
Reminder: MAGIC/WWIN/PROJECT et al are week after next, August 25-28th in Las Vegas. We have a few members launching their first lines and several others returning. To get a rundown on everyone coming and to arrange to meet other F-I members, meet up arrangements are here.
JC sends a story from Marketplace Money (NPR) on the “bear” market. Tongue in cheek of course, on one man’s move into manufacturing large size apparel for men. Bob Moon says:

Here’s a staggering figure. The percentage of American adults who are overweight — 66 percent. Think about that. Fully two-thirds of us are in the market for bigger everything. In menswear alone the “big and tall” market is worth $5 billion and, shall we say, growing everyday.

Somewhat related: WSJ’s Carl Bialik casts doubt on a -let’s face it, bogus- study that claims that in 40 years, every single US resident could be overweight. While obesity has escalated dramatically (very interesting graph) over the past 25 years, the researcher in charge admits he was trying to raise a rukus in the interests of awareness to a growing problem. No pun intended. The trend is scary. Sizing inflation will continue to increase; nearly everyone’s median size is going to get roomier.
Rene Geneva -along with other Austinites and Vera Wang- is featured on the WE Channel in a show called “Wedding Central”. The episode is called “Amazing Wedding Gowns” and will repeat.
Grace (BadmomGoodmom) says that while shipping costs are crimping globalization, “LA & LB are unloading 40% of the shipping containers during off hours, translating into less time spent in traffic, less congestion and better fuel economy.” Grace, who I teasingly describe as a “weather girl” (Ph.D in meteorology) is also interested in the shipping container industry.
Ionna says this bill could mean the gutting of copyrights in the U.S. I haven’t read the full text of the bill but Ionna says “it’s more accurate to say that this is kind of the death of copyrights. I mean, a company could take your work, use it for its whatever purpose and then claim they attributed the work to you so it’s ok. ” The Artists Foundation says:

These proposed pieces of legislation will allow for someone (a person or a business) who has done a “search” (which is not clearly spelled out in the legislation at this point as to how long and what the search will need to entail) and if they can’t find the copyright owner, they will be legally allowed to use or infringe the copyright (i.e. use your work). This will hold for artwork, music, family photos, films, essays, poems, etc.. One does not lose their copyright, but their work will be able to be legally infringed under these pieces of legislation if their work is deemed to be orphaned.

Jasmin sends a profile of Australian designer Tanya Greenwood who’s made a business of recutting old clothes into new ones. A rung or two above the jizillion others doing it, in the photo Tanya is wearing the only tee that has interested me in a long time.
Have you read down this far? You must be a dedicated visitor. If so, did you know that this front page -the blog site- is the least happening thing on this site? The real hot bed of activity is the forum. It never stops in there with I don’t know how many comments posted daily. Confidential reviews of service providers, peer to peer insider tips on locating fabrics, finding contractors and as always, even silly stuff. If you have proof of purchase of a new copy of The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing, you may qualify to join us. Service providers and vendors are vetted but membership to entrepreneurs and enthusiasts is more relaxed.

Well, I think that’s it for today. I want to go home now and take a nap. I welcome noncommercial submissions from anyone be they useful, quirky, weird and offbeat. I credit all sources, include your web address for link love. Be kind, save me some time and include your url with your message. If it’s not obvious from the content that you want to remain anonymous, you’ll have to tell me.

Commercial notices are encouraged from community members. I will print your commercial news posted such as openings, launches, new websites, news and press pieces if you’re one of my designers or allied member of the community; we’re thrilled to see your progress. Non-members with commercial notices should review the submission guidelines. I regret the limitation but if I didn’t, then NFY would be dominated by PR fluff, jewelery and handbag designers with no ties to the community looking for free advertising.

Send your submissions to News From You.

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