10:45pm, seat 37G.
I just returned from a trip to Hong Kong and Bangkok, having wrapped up a particularly important trip. I’ve worked in Asia for many years and made countless trips here, but nothing has ever been quite like this. Jamie Bainbridge and I started the week meeting with three prospective new factories. With a smaller footprint for the new Nau, we’ll be consolidating our business into Asia. We’re pretty excited about what we found.
We then got to work with our existing factory partners reducing our original purchases for Fall 08 by 75%. This meant re-merchandising the line for new distribution channels, calculating what materials are left over and could be used in Spring 09, and then Fall 09, tracking hundreds of different materials from, over 50 suppliers, has been a significant challenge.
Everyone involved with this, from both Nau and the factories, has asked themselves why they are willing to go through such an inordinate amount of work, to make such a small quantity of garments? The answer actually comes quite quickly. For me the reason is the chance to continue to make the most impressive product line on the market, with the very best people in the industry. For the factories it lies in the promise of future business growth, but more immediately in the challenge we present them with our designs and construction ideas. I knew we had something special when the factories (who have literally seen it all) began saying that our product is different, and that it pushed them to think and work differently. Because of this, and the integrity with which we strive to conduct our business, every factory and mill we work with has welcomed us back and pledged their continued support.
This was made especially clear to me while sitting with two guys from Teijin, our primary jacket fabric maker, who had flown in from Japan to meet with us and KCK, our primary jacket maker. These two companies are pillars of the industry and, incredibly, were coming together for the first time to ensure the current deliveries and future fabric developments of their smallest customer. It gave real meaning to the phrase “punching above our weight.”
Next came a meeting with our polo shirt maker in Bangkok. I’ve known them for 15 years, and am now working with the second generation of ownership. From there, we met with our cotton fabric mill, and then the organic cotton yarn spinner who is so critical to our supply chain. The final trip was a four-hour drive “upcountry,” to see our main sportswear factory.
After all this, I was seriously ready to get some sleep on the plane home, in order to be ready to buy the Spring 09 line. Safe to say it will be less eventful than Fall 08.