Welcome!

Winter Session, 2013, in the Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies took students down a somewhat different path as eight students explored, first hand, the role and impact that government has on the Textile and Apparel Industry. The semester began with a trip to our Nation’s Capital, in Washington D.C., to meet with members of the U.S. Congress, representatives from Border and Customs Protection, explore free trade agreements, and visits to the Vietnam and Mexican Embassies. Following the trip to Washington, DC, the group headed south to North Carolina to the textile capital of the U.S, to learn about cotton, polyester, denim, and product development.
The amazing revelation of the trip was how, with each passing day, the students grew in their knowledge and understanding that the textile and apparel industry does not exist just on an island in Manhattan or Hong Kong, but is often shaped by individuals and governments who have to balance the desires and needs of many opposing views. As a result, these decisions affect the economies of countries and the lives of individuals who live and work in communities, whether in China, Mexico, or the U.S.
Please enjoy this blog developed and written by the students in the Fashion and Apparel Studies Department at the University of Delaware as they experience the journey!
Forward by Martha Carper
Assistant Professor – University of Delaware

Monday, January 21, 2013- Thursday, January 23, 2013

Greensboro, North Carolina
Monday 1/21
International Textile Group
Today we had the pleasure of meeting with the International Textile Group. We traveled to Raeford, NC and were able to tour the Burlington Raeford Plant. The Raeford plant is one of the last standing American manufacturing plants. They specialize in manufacturing yarns that are turned into US public service apparel, band, and most importantly, military apparel and uniforms. Meeting with the plant manager, Calvin, and the plant supervisors was a once in a lifetime experience. Once on the tour, we were able to see the processes being completed from fiber to finish.
The steps that go into dyeing the fabrics to the perfect color on the spectrum are abundant. Once the woolen and polyester fibers are dyed individually, they are blended together. Numerous tests are run on different samples from the barrels of wool to test the coloring, to ensure the consistency of the color. Blending is a huge step when creating garments that need to be uniform. If one of the batches of yarn is off, there are multiple processes that go into color analysis that ensure the products are the same color.
After visiting NC State last week, it was nice finding out that the Raeford plant works closely with NC State students. The students assist in running tests on the textiles, checking the finishes, and analyzing data for the plant.

ITG Plant - Raeford, North Carolina

ITG Plant – Raeford, North Carolina

Group Photo with Raeford Plant Management

Group Photo with Raeford Plant Management

Today we were lucky enough to be able to meet with many execs at UNIFI. UNIFI is known for its production of multi-filament fibers and yarns used in textiles all around the world. Repreve is UNIFI’s newest branded type of fiber. The yarn is made out of recycled plastic, collected from plastic drinking bottles. This polyester is 100% recycled and is found in some garments we all own! Brands such as The North Face use Repreve in their Polar Fleece material, which is used in many of their garments. We were able to see the steps involved in producing Repreve- from melting the chips of plastic, to seeing the fibers extruded from the spinnerettes. One extremely unique thing a about the factory was that they are 100% green and recycle all of their materials and fully treat their waste.

The first hand sights at the factory came completely full circle during our afternoon appointment with Bill Jasper, the CEO of UNIFI. Along with that title, Bill is also the President of the National Council of Textiles Organization. Bill discussed Repreve more in-depth and shared that is this year’s X-Games green sponsor. Repreve hats are going to be handed out during the winter games, in hopes that a “sea of green” is created. This is just one of their unique marketing tactics that will jump off the Repreve marketing directly to the consumer. Bill expanded on the sustainability within the UNIFI company, and the Repreve brand. It was great getting to see the two different factories and visually compare the different procedures within each. I am eager to watch the X-games and look out for the green hats, and I am also excited to see more Repreve products being marketed to the consumer.

Unifi Headquarters

Unifi Headquarters

Group Photo with Unifi Management, Yadkinville, North Carolina

Group Photo with Unifi Management, Yadkinville, North Carolina

Photo with Bill Jasper, CEO of Unifi Inc.

Photo with Bill Jasper, CEO of Unifi Inc.

Repreve Water Bottle

Repreve Water Bottle

Wednesday 1/23
Today we were able to meet with Tom Glaser who is the VP of Global Operations and Supply Chains for VF Corporation. VF owns many well known brands such as Nautica, The North Face, Ella Moss, and Wrangler. Tom discussed his role in acquiring companies, and the importance of creating a synergy with the multiple product types and brands that company holds ownership of.
Our afternoon was spent discussing up and coming innovative advances in textiles with Joe Gorga, the CEO of International Textile Group and his team at the offices. Previously in the week, we were fortunate enough to visit two of their plants and tour the facilities. Getting to speak with them about the product and the way their developments truly impact the lives of consumers and workers all over, had a huge impact on me. One of the newest developments we were able to discuss was the invention of No Fly Zone, which, from my understanding, is a finish that is created to repel insects and bugs. This will be extremely useful for people who partake in outdoor sports, but also to our soldiers and military officials. Lunch was served as we gawked and swooned over the denim samples strewn about the room. Shopping is always on the brain.
The final stop of our journey was definitely one of the highlights. We toured the Cone Denim factory which is the oldest functioning denim factory in the world. It produces denim for many companies such as Anthropologie, Blue Lab, and Raleigh Denim, which we had the pleasure of visiting earlier in our trip. We walked through the processes of seeing the yarns being spun, dyed, and even got to see the different dyeing tactics that were applied to the denim fabrics. Along the tour, we were lucky to run into Mildred, one of the oldest employees in the factory and a local celebrity. A new innovation is using colored bottles to tint the dye (green, brown). Another feature unique to the Cone facility is their ability to create any color selvage on the inside of the denim. Over all this was an amazing appointment that truly sparked all of our interests. I love a great pair of jeans, but I never truly thought about all the processes that go into purchasing a well-made pair of denim.

VF Corp in Greensboro, North Carolina

VF Corp in Greensboro, North Carolina

A pair of denim shoes manufactured with Cone Denim

A pair of denim shoes manufactured with Cone Denim

Spools of yarn, pre-finishing and weaving.

Spools of yarn, pre-finishing and weaving.

Cone Mills Plant

Cone Mills Plant

Production of Denim at Cone Mills

Production of Denim at Cone Mills

Group photo with Mildred Bolen, a long time employee and local celebrity, at Cone Mills
Group photo with Mildred Bolen, a long time employee and local celebrity, at Cone Mills

Wednesday, January 16, 2013—Friday, January 18, 2013

Product Development Seminar at [TC]2

For the remainder of the week in Cary, NC, our group hung out at [TC]2—Textile and Clothing Technology Corporation. We received a full crash course on product development—from defining a company’s target market and the way the product should fit to determining the way the product will be manufactured, the way it will be constructed and how much it will cost. The seminar was tailored to our class so that we could learn the ins and outs of building a thorough yet concise tech pack. We met many great people who took the time to teach us about what they do at [TC]2

Elizabeth White spent the most time with us. One of my favorite lessons we learned from her was about placing pattern pieces on the marker. We did a paper demo to try to minimize the amount of fabric we would need to cut out our paper pattern. We learned that mitering corners of fabric pieces (cutting off the corners of the seam allowances) saves a lot of fabric, especially when a large quantity of fabric is needed.

Our group got really excited when we were able to try out the industrial sewing machines. Thanks to Lujuanna and Doris, we were able to see the seams and stitches—that Gloria had taught us previously—up close! My favorite machine was one that Doris showed us. It was just a 301 stitch, but the presser foot was shaped so that it could fold the edge of the fabric under twice for a finished edge.

On the last day at [TC]2, Will Duncan spoke to us about manufacturing and the difference between three main types of manufacturing: traditional, kanban, and team. We went through each type of factory through a hands-on demo in which our class split up into two assembly lines to make pens. It was fun and competitive, and at the end it demonstrated that the team factory system yielded the highest productivity per worker. The team assembly line was also the least stressful and the most fun to be a part of.

At the conclusion of our seminar, we were asked to present tech packs, which we had worked on in pairs outside of class at [TC]2. It was nice to have Michael Fralix—President and CEO of [TC]2!—Elizabeth and Will there to judge and critique our tech packs because they are in the industry. It was a great experience learning from all of the workers at [TC]2. The lessons we learned here, the hands-on demos we had and the people we met are ones that we will not forget. Thanks, [TC]2!

-Emma Sidoriak

 

ImageImage

Day 1: Introductions at the Morning Meeting

 

Image

A view of some of the tools we used during our time at [TC]2.

 

Image

ImageImage

Our group got excited about the sewing portion of our seminar. We saw a  [TC]2 project in the making (top) and had to the opportunity to use  [TC]2‘s industrial machines and sewing tools (middle and bottom).

 

Image

I got to use their body scanner! That’s me!

 

ImageImage

On the last day, we presented our own Tech Packs. Our judges were tough (top), but we all learned a lot from their critiques. That’s Morgan and I presenting our own Jeans Tech Pack (bottom).

Tuesday January 15, 2013

We began this sunny, North Carolina day by visiting the site of AATCC, The American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists. The staff was very enthusiastic and even presented a couple of personalized Delaware welcome signs upon arrival. AATCC is a not-for profit company with contributing members who participate in annual events and competitions. Most of the staff came from NC State, and this was the first of many mentions of that prestigious school in the fashion industry. A University of Delaware student, Ann Holland worked there and greeted us in full UD attire. The staff spoke about their journey and how they got to be where they are today. Their aim is to make AATCC more oriented towards the younger members of the industry. They encouraged us all to start a student chapter and become members (for only $35)! After another discussion about the textile industry, we got the opportunity to tour their lab facilities. Many of the words from Textiles class like “Croco-meter” and “pilling” came to life and made sense after seeing the equipment. It was as if we were connecting two missing puzzle pieces: one being written information and the other visual.
We later then went on to visit Cotton Incorporated, where our very accommodating tour guide Len T. Farias walked us through the machines involved in the cotton production process. The beautiful building was adorned with pictures celebrating the beauty of cotton. We examined the cotton from the raw materials to finished product. Len showed us the trend reports for Cotton Incorporated and was nice enough to gather some for us to take home as a coveted souvenir. Cotton Inc. seems to be doing very innovative work with their company producing original looking fabric. The visit was very pleasant, and I wish them the best of luck in promoting their products!
By Samantha Tharler

Cotton fibers

Cotton fibers

Can of cotton sliver

Can of cotton sliver

Cotton artwork

Cotton artwork

 In front of all the past presidents of the American Association of Textile Colorist and Chemists (AATCC)

In front of all the past presidents of the American Association of Textile Colorist and Chemists (AATCC)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Today we got a private tour of the National Archives. This was one of my favorite parts of our trip so far! It gave me the chills seeing the original Declaration of Independence with all of the signatures, along with the original Constitution and the Bill of Rights. You learn about these important documents in all of your history textbooks, but to see those very documents in person was an experience I will never forget. We gained access into one of the private vaults where we saw documents that helped form the world we live in today. These documents include ones written by Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and the monumental leaders of the Women’s Rights Movement. I felt like I was going back in time. I have never enjoyed history because it was hard to put myself in those people’s shoes just by reading about the problems they faced in textbooks and watching documentaries about them. To see the documents written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Wilma Rudolph during the time of the Woman Suffrage Movement made it all very real for me. I could feel the pain and determination behind their words.

After our awe-inspiring tour we met with Cass Johnson, President of the National Council of Textile Organizers (NCTO). One of the most shocking pieces of information he provided us with was the fact that the textile industry in the United States has stopped shrinking, and is actually growing. Maybe this information does not come as a shock to others, but I had no idea that the textile industry in the U.S. has not only stopped shrinking, but has started growing. He told us that he believes it is important to promote trade, but the government is overly focused on expansion, that they oversee the problems with enforcing the rules of the current trade agreements. We know that China keeps their currency artificially low, which will keep them ahead in trade. Instead of tackling this problem, the government says that they have no knowledge of China doing this. He then proceeded to speak with us about our relationship with Vietnam in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). He said that our goal is to create a political block with China. We want Vietnam on our side because there have been oil and gas findings on the islands surrounding the area by China and Vietnam that we would like to get our hands on. We want Vietnam to switch from an export-driven economy to a consumer-driven economy because it is what is best for them and for us. We also learned that if they get their way and choose to have single transformation then the textile industry in the U.S. will be gone.

To end the day, we met with the Mexican Embassy. I was shocked to find out that Mexico was the first supplier of denim. Mexico is the home to unique textiles and a growing textile industry. They are making their mark in fashion and hope to continue to move into the U.S. They gave us a fashion magazine and it was very informative. They have an extensive industry of textiles that continues to grow because they specialize in unique fabrics and patterns that set them aside from all other textile manufacturers. They support trade with the U.S. and house many U.S. businesses like H&M, Zara, Nike, and a surplus of Walmarts.

By Alexandra Debrody

Off to the National Archives!

Off to the National Archives!

 

Waiting patiently to begin our journey

Waiting patiently to begin our journey

Thursday January 10, 2013

Our schedule started off bright and early today with a guided tour of the East Wing of the White House.  As fashion majors, we were most fascinated by all of the colored rooms decorated with such intricate fabric, and how the fabric was actually sewn and embroidered onto the walls.  It’s so neat to walk the same rooms that all of our presidents have walked through!

The next stop was to the Vietnamese Embassy where we met with Dzung Le, Chief Economic Counselor of the Vietnam Embassy.   They told us how the Vietnam industry is moving in the market direction, and some of the major companies like Intel and Facebook who are investing there.

After a much needed lunch break we made our way to the National Cotton Council for a VERY informative sit-down with Senior Vice President John Maguire.  He took us through how the cotton industry is functioning within the United States, and what industrialization and globalization has done to it.  He also gave his point of view on TPP and the problem with the “yarn forward rule.”

Next we traveled to the AAFA to meet with Steve Lamar!  Of all the topics we covered we went over how the AAFA works, and then went over their views again on the TPP with Vietnam.  We also touched on Senator Chuck Schumer’s Fashion Piracy Bill and both sides of the issue.

Our marathon day ended with a private tour of the West Wing of the White House.  Being in the same hallways that the president travels daily was such a cool feeling!  We kept hoping for him to pop around a corner, but unfortunately that didn’t happen!

By Samantha Tocker

The East Wing of the White House.

The East Wing of the White House.

Posing in front of the Vietnamese Embassy.

Posing in front of the Vietnamese Embassy.

 

Plaque of membership at the U.S. Cotton Council.

Plaque of membership at the U.S. Cotton Council.

Steve Lamar's office at the AAFA has the best view of D.C!

Steve Lamar’s office at the AAFA has the best view of D.C!

 

The famous press room in the West Wing.

The famous press room in the West Wing.

Posing outside the West Wing.

Posing outside the West Wing.

 

Wednesday January 9, 2013

Today we went to the US Department of Homeland Security.  We met with Jackie Sprungle who is the chief of the Textile Policy and Operations branch.  We also met with Natalie Hanson and Jannelle Cray who were both International Trade Specialists.  They gave a presentation on the whole entry process of goods and also an overview of the CBP(Customs and Boarder Control).  We learned there are over 58 thousand employees of this department and about 20 thousand alone are officers.  Janelle went through the process for importing goods.  She went through all the steps and even included all the documentation required for entry of goods.  She explained in detail about marking requirements, which are tags on the good that states the country of origin, and it must be permanent and legible.  We had a quick overview of trade policy issues focusing mainly on rules under free trade agreements.

 

We ended the day with Gail Strickler who is an assistant US Trade Representative.  She explained that she is responsible for supervising negotiations affecting textile and apparel products, advising the US Trade Representative on textile and apparel trade policy matters and working to expand the industry’s access to foreign markets.  Gail then went in to explain the history of the World Trade Organization starting at 1946.  FTA’s ( Free Trade Agreements) were the main topic of the discussion.  We learned where all the agreements were and that we have 14 to date with the Trans Pacific Partnership currently in negotiations. FTA’s are very important to our industry, as we have learned just in the first couple days.  Without these negotiations and agreements certain countries may not import certain goods due to high duties

- Emily Harp

U.S Department of Homeland Security

U.S Department of Homeland Security

U.S Department of Homeland Security entrance

U.S Department of Homeland Security entrance