Monday, November 05, 2012

Fast Fashion

Fast Fashion

Have you ever stood looking in at your closest for hours, trying to choose something to wear out in your jam-packed closest, yet still at a loss? Personally, I love to shop and I feel sometimes that’s all I spend my time and money on. Too many times I have been faced with the situation of constantly looking at boring and non-standout pieces to satisfy my wants. If your closet is the same, you are likely a shopper on the fast fashion train.

Fast fashion if you aren’t already aware, emerged in the late 20th century and has changed the way society consumes fashion. Fast fashion is best described as producing on trend fashion products to the consumers the fastest way possible. Brands started to compete amongst each other for market shares by introducing more collections per year. Traditionally the majority of fashion labels had two main collections a year, spring/summer and fall/winter. Today fashion labels can have up to 18 collections a year. From 2002, the amount of time and money people spend on shopping and buying new clothing pieces has jumped and the majority of people are spending a third of their disposable income on clothing. Globalization has grown rapidly since the 80’s and 90’s and has paved the way for value and mid price brands to shift the bulk of their production to the developing world where labor and overheads cost a fraction of those in the world.

This had several benefits to the fashion label companies. Firstly, it decreased their financial cost on forward orders and allowed flexibility in the decision making on their fashion items to come later on in the season. This in turn ensured the companies that they were able to react to the market quickly for the latest “on-trend” items. As a consumer, we loved this concept and this became the coming in the widespread of speeding up fashion.

Having a fast fashion concept was a great alternative to consumers rather than having to buy designer wear straight from the runway that would normally cost a fortune. Buyers these days do an excellent job of choosing alternative pieces straight from the runway that they believe will sell to us consumers, having them fast tracked made and before we know it are on the shelves in two weeks time. However, fast fashion induces people to continuously replace discount wardrobes. As a result, we tend to get less use out of each purchase. It may seem counterintuitive, but only by looking for cheap and fast, do we spend more and benefit less.

Zara is a perfect example of a Spanish retailer that has been on the fast fashion movement since the 1970’s. The company uses a quick response model of production is minimize the time between design and consumption. Other leading companies that are guilty of being on the fast fashion train are H&M, Forever21, JoeFresh, and Topshop follow the same production model.

Being on the factory side of the fast fashion concept isn’t so glamorous. Factory workers are definitely feeling the effects of this. They are under extreme amounts of pressure to get the product made and shipped out quickly to stores. Just last year the deadlines for the factory workers were about 90 days. This year the deadline timeslot decreased by about 30%, leaving the workers about 60 days to deliver the product and depending on the company sometimes it’s cut down to 45 days. Rather than 40,000 garments being manufactured across four styles 20 weeks at a rate of 500 per style per week, now all that is confirmed with the factory workers is the first five weeks across four styles at 500 per style per week. In the end this works out to a commitment of 10,000 garments and the remaining 30,000 garments is unknown. There’s no promise to the workers of how many styles should be produced or the manufacturing rate per week.

Not only does the fast fashion idea have an effect on the producers of the garments but also the amount of clothing people are consuming is having a major impact on our environment. With the life cycle of garments being so short lived, statistics show that on average about 70lbs of clothing and textiles per person is being sent to the landfill each year. Moreover, the synthetic textiles present particular problems in the landfills because these products will not decompose, while the woolen garments do decompose producing methane contributing to global warming.

So yes, while all of us fashion lovers love to shop, read glossy magazines that show off the newest and latest trends and watch the most glamorous fashion shows which we try to imitate, is fast fashion spiraling out of control? Rather than going out every weekend looking for a new outfit to wear for ladies night out or a hot date, we could focus on finding new ways to wear our garments that have been worn once and now are collecting dust in our wardrobes. There’s great DIY’s out there that show off different ideas on how to upgrade your old school jeans and even the boyfriend T-shirt that we normally wear to bed. Add some studs, tear off the pockets and sew some funky thread on those garments, be creative! I think we’d all be surprised to see just how similar we can make our “off-trend” garment pieces “on-trend” again without spending all our time and money in these fast fashion clothing stores. 

slow fashion, vote for change

Is “slow fashion” a viable movement, or is fashion innately “un-green”?

“Slow Fashion” is a concept developed by Kate Fletcher in 2007 and modeled on the “Slow Food” movement pioneered by Carlo Petrini in 1986. Both ideals involve the substitution of low-quality and frequently-consumed “Fast Goods” with the alternative concept of consuming goods that take longer to create and represent greater intrinsic value and quality.

In the case of “Slowly-Made” clothes, the idea is that such clothes can be made more carefully, thoughtfully and hence to be generally “better-made” than clothes designed solely for “Fast” consumption and disposal. By being “Slowly Made and Better Made” such “Slowly-Made” clothes might be priced at a higher point than “Fast Clothes” and also to be considered by their owners to be more valuable than “Fast Clothes” and hence worth retaining for longer periods of time. Such clothes would last longer (conserving resources right along the entire supply chain) and by being more expensive they would also constrain customers from buying as many other items as if they were purchasing solely cheaply-produced “Fast Clothes”. Hence, consumption of clothing materials and transportation energy used for distribution of the clothes, plus sales packaging materials and advertising media could all be conserved. In these senses, the “Slow Fashion” concept of conservation of resources can be seen to be perfectly functional, as a concept.

The question that needs to be answered is whether the “Slow Fashion” movement is indeed a viable one. Being viable means more than just being plausible or conceptually functional. In order to be successful, the “Slow Fashion” movement will need to convince broad swathes of the fashion-buying public (most especially embodied by young women) to change their concepts about what’s “fashionable” to a sufficient degree to persuade them to change their long-engrained, almost “reflexive” “Fast” buying habits. In other words, it will somehow have to become “cool” and “high fashion” to still be seen in older clothes than the styles currently appearing in all the “inherently Fast” media such as web sites and TV programs and also in consumer-to-consumer chatter.

In support of the “Slow Fashion” movement, one can state that there are some “compassionate” consumer trends already in existence and able to persist and survive for years. Fashion examples are the “faux fur” trend, the “No animals hurt in the development of” certain brands of cosmetics, the “I Love New York” tee shirts sold following the events of 9/11 and the Tory Birch feed handbags which aimed to raise $100,000 to provide meals for starving children and families in developing nations.

There is a foundation of “better behavior” behind such social trends and it is quite feasible to turn the concept of better behavior into “superior” behavior. Superior anything is inherently fashionable. If enough leading personalities were to support the concepts and ideals of “Slow Fashion” most importantly by their own (highly visible) personal behaviors and buying habits it is likely that a “following” of personality-conscious buyers could be created. Also, more mundane means of communication such as newspaper articles could be used to educate fastidious members of society into slowly changing buying habits into slower, more careful (and conservative) patterns which they would deem to be for the “general good” of society. It is quite likely that, with sufficient impetus given to educating the public about the conservation of resources benefits of practicing “Slow Fashion” buying habits, a sustainable movement could develop and be sustained, at least among the higher echelons of society and intelligencia.

On the downside for “Slow Fashion”, one honestly has to acknowledge the magnitude of changing the mass buying habits of the consuming public at large. Such change is especially difficult to accomplish given the near-constant, daily, bombardment of clothes advertising, fashion media articles and fashion shows and other “trend-setting” appearances by popular personalities, many of which are designed to drive the pursuit of fashion trends (that is, buying more new stuff) by members of the general public.

There are many positives for this slow fashion movement and how it can affect and benefit the everyday fashion consumer. For example, consumers are encouraged to buy less frequently, as the clothing garments made using the slow fashion technique are built to be quality and last long, therefore do not need to be replaced as often. They will cost slightly more, as cost of quality materials, better working environments, and higher hourly wages (or not outsourcing to countries with extremely low hourly wages) are all contributors to a superior and slightly more expensive product. Consumers can feel good about what they are buying, as they are supporting more than a movement, it is a positive lifestyle change for the earth, and many employees in the apparel manufacturing job market. This is a movement that is promotes consciousness to the buyer, diversity as it is different from much of what is currently on the market, slowing down mass consumption, and using local resources. This all gives consumers the power to vote with their dollar, do they want to vote for positive change of today's environment? Or continue to spend recklessly and irresponsibly not realizing the potential damage?

It can be stated that that while the “Slow Fashion” movement can and likely will sustain itself at a certain level of vibrancy and relevance, it is only reasonable to express some doubts about it soon (if ever) becoming the predominant “mass” behavioral trend and thus really making a large-scale difference in consumption and sustainability trends in the whole world. But one can hope!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Ethics vs Fashion: The Fur Debate

The Ongoing Fight For or Against The Fur Trade... 

              Throughout the past, the fashion world has been affected by several situations regarding the ethical choices that designers and consumers make. As each person has their own personal views on certain issues, the likelihood of all consumers to be completely satisfied runs low. One of the biggest controversies in the fashion world is fur for apparel, and the method of treatment upon those animals captured. This ongoing debate outlines the issues that arise when it comes to the way fur is acquired – either by trapping wild animals and skinning them, or raising animals domestically for their fur.

                Designer labels such as Christian Dior, Chanel, Burberry, and Prada just to name a few, are infamous for featuring animal fur and leather in their collections and are often criticized for the choices made during the production of their garments. Organizations like PETA and The Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade (CAFT) are world renown for their strong opinions against the use of fur or anything related to the unethical treatment of animals, and take any measures needed to make their points clear to the public. Recently, CAFT sent a message to all their followers to protest outside a Burberry store in their area and shed light on the secret behind this prestigious brand label.

                The fur debate is always a heated topic of discussion, as it brings the morals and strong beliefs of society to the surface. Essentially, there are two sides to this dispute. When asked about his standpoint on the issue, head designer and creative director of Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld, defended the use of animal fur by saying that “beasts would kill us if they could”. He goes on to mention that "in a meat-eating world, wearing leather for shoes and clothes and even handbags, the discussion of fur is childish" (2009). A spokesperson for PETA fights back, arguing that there is an increasing number of designers who believe that “there is no place for cruelty in fashion”, and that Karl is ignorant to the fact that there is suffering behind every piece of fur used for garment production.

                There will always be the underlying question that remains: is it morally acceptable to produce, promote, sell, purchase, and wear fur, even though animals are treated unethically? Does it make a difference to consumers or the general public if these animals were raised domestically for their fur? People can and will boycott the Fur Trade, but will the message to save them ever be taken seriously? The reality of it is that, in the Fashion Industry, there is such a large amount of consumers who want the most prestigious styles, and will spend their money on the most exclusive fashions, including the rarest of animal fur and skins. Many designers would not have the reputation they carry now if it was not for their elite fashion designs that feature real animal fur. Therefore, this trend is likely to grow into an even larger scale rather than diminish, as some consumers may hope.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Stylish Sustainabuility

Stylish Sustainability
It seems as though luxury labels are growing to be a bit more green.

The apparel industry has been criticized often by many of the environmental impact of the production of it’s goods. Luxury labels specifically are now feeling the pressure as they experience a change in the demand of a more environmentally conscious consumer. Many big brands are coming to the realization that providing a sustainable product is not just a passing fad but a necessity to the maintenance of a positive brand image, Translation: Billowing black clouds of toxic smoke is not so chic.

Gucci is a great example of a major high end label that has taken a serious stance in favor of reducing their carbon footprint. This year Gucci launched their first ever sustainable soles project for the 2012 pre-fall season. This collection featured both men’s and woman’s foot wear and was designed by the companies creative designer Frida Giannini. The ladies shoe is a stylized jelly like ballet flat and the men’s shoe is more conservative style of sneaker both of which are made out of 100% biodegradable bioplastic, an alternative choice to the typical petrochemical plastics. Upon the release of this project Gucci issued a statement on their website:

“This new project conveys the House’s mission to interpret in a responsible way the modern consumer’s desire for sustainable fashion products, all the while maintaining the balance between the timeless values of style and utmost quality with an ever-growing green vision.”

The sustainable soles project is not the first sustainable fashion project by Gucci a year earlier they issued a collection of sustainable eye wear made out of various materials including recycled metal and wood. Gucci has also adapted all of its packaging so that it is 100% recyclable and is stamped and certified ethically sourced by FDC (forest steward council).

Gucci is not the first or only high end name in the apparel business that has taken a new direction in sustainability for their product, in 2002 Stella McCartney launched her first of many eco labels in which she made the decision to not use any leathers or furs in her collection. Today, Stella McCartney Ltd. is a carbon neutral company, Stella McCartney offices, studios and stores are all powered by a company called Ecocentricity a company that invests the money their customers spend on electricity into clean power sources such as wind.

At a more moderate price point American Apparel’s vertically integrated factory allows all operations to be consolidated in southern California, limiting the amount of energy and fuel used in the shipment of materials. American Apparel integrates sustainability in a variety of different ways such as scraps, at American Apparel they use a mixed marking system in the cutting process in which they match different styles to efficiently use fabric. What scraps that are left over the company uses in their smaller accessories like hair bands. Not every scrap at American Apparel can be used in production, larger pieces of fabric that can’t be used are often given to be used as rags by the janitorial staff of the building and anything that they absolutely can’t use is then sold to 3rd party companies that then recycle the scraps into other products. The American apparel factory is partially powered by roof top solar panels that on a sunny day can generate 150 kilowatts of power. The Employees that work at American Apparel are also encouraged to reflect on their own carbon footprint and the company offers them a bike lending system of 150 bikes with locks and helmets as well as a subsidized transit pass to encourage public transportation.

Sustainability doesn't necessarily need to be a slew of new ideas and innovations but could just be efficient and effective service. Louis Vuitton has been developing their sustainable practices by investing in alternative clean energies and careful monitoring of water usage but something they have always done is repair any of their products free of charge as long as it’s authentic.  By ensuring the longevity of their products Louis Vuitton is limiting the amount of waste produced.

The danger in sustainability trends is the obvious green washing of goods which can affect both the customers’ perception of a brand and devalue the product. It’s very important that luxury brands stay transparent and communicate their sustainability initiatives. Notable certifications and standards are helpful when purchasing these kinds of products because it allows the consumer to understand on a greater level what the environmental impact of these brands and items will be. Sustainability is a valuable thing and will no doubt play a large role in the perception of luxury apparel. 

From Milan to the Mall

Are fast fashion retailers paying homage to designer brands or knocking them off completely?

We have all shopped at fast fashion stores at our local malls and shopping centres. With such a demanding and product driven society we live fast fashion has truly exploded as retailers are reaching their target market at a quicker productive pace than ever before.  Zara, Mango, H and M, Forever 21- the assortment of stores are endless. You find yourself looking through a picked over disorganized mess of merchandise all with a usual lack of assistance from employees who are typically challenging to search for when needed. Despite the negative attributes associated with shopping at these types of retailers, which may not always be the case, it is hard to deny that the inexpensive price tags and wide breadth of products is not exciting once having completed the purchase. With such a high turnover of shelf life for the merchandise in fast fashion stores accompanied by a special promotion or sale happening every time you visit it is no mistake why we disregard the mess and continue to revisit. As consumers, our personal taste and style is heavily influence by what we see in our day to day lives. Within the fashion realm it is easy to pull influence from other designers and existing collections. If we as consumers have no problem in doing so, it should come as no surprise that fast fashion retailers are doing the same.

Ever wonder why three or more stores are all carrying the same style of dress at any given time? Perhaps this is due in part to a specific style being in season, or could it be that a famous designer had a similar silhouette on the run way just months before? Are fast fashion retailers portraying the current styles that are in trend, or are these outlets simply providing cheap copied versions to their consumers? These theories can go hand in hand as both factors are very relevant within the fashion industry, but as consumers we often turn a blind eye to the centre of the matter.

Why spend over $200 on an item when the same version can be purchased at a less expensive more accessible store? Is it the price and convenience of several locations that drive consumers to purchase items they want and where they wish to do so? Trading purchase expenses is likely to mean that the item in question will be of less quality, which in turn cannot be worn for seasons to come. For some this does not play an imperative role in their shopping decision and behaviour. However, other consumers are willing to pay more money to have a piece that will not start to unravel after one trip to the laundry mat.  It is inevitable that higher price brings higher quality. Apart from the look of an item the durability and feel of an item is relevant to the price and reasoning for purchasing.
In reality, fashion is forever changing and this just may be the lure of fast fashion; spend the same amount of money to receive more products in total. Within weeks new pieces will fill t bars and folding tables throughout fast fashion stores that are oddly identical to the items that have been spotted on runways in fashion capitals minor weeks prior. The cycle will only continue as each respected season does for new trends are first introduced on the run way and duplicated.  Designers spend months to a year on end creating their collections and in a matter of weeks fast fashion retailers scoop up the same ideas and present them to consumers. Shoppers no longer have to think while shopping as everything is laid out before them.

The beauty of this industry is that we do not all have to arrive at a unified front on this matter. Some fashionistas prefer to splurge on items that they know will hold up after wearing. The designer brand is what initially draws these fashion moguls to the item and they are proud to flaunt it. The quality and fabrication in addition to the attentiveness they receive while shopping at these designer stores assures them that the price tag is of little to no importance to them and worth it in the end. Some savvy shoppers prefer to scout out items that are equally as trendy, but at a fraction of the price. Whatever the case, we are fortunate as shoppers that both spectrums of the shopping scale are readily accessible to us.  

The Loopy Side of Fashion
The misadventure of a former retail business owner

“I remember leaving work and sitting downtown right at the corner of Yonge and Dundas by The Eaton Centre, says John I would sit there and observe the different fusions of style.”
Having a successful fashion business is not the easiest goal to accomplish in Toronto, especially with so many designers emerging every year.   John Jack had his share of ups and downs this crazy world we call the fashion industry. We were enjoying an evening of good conversation, music and food with his wife Lisa; former retail business owner John Jack reminisces back into the day when he, his cousin and a friend started their own street fashion line.  Canadian born Jack grew up in a West Indian home in the suburbs of Scarborough, Ontario with his two older sisters’, little brother and mother.  “I was always interested in the fashion, because it was something that was part of my household, growing up my sister pretty much enjoyed making her own clothing and my mom used to make outfits for my sisters, says Jack. I was always just around the culture of design.” His interest peaked in high school, when he started to experiment with fabric paint and silk screening by branding his jeans, baseball caps and t-shirts with dance crew names of the West Indian countries, (St Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Kitts) he proudly represented.  Once he graduated from college, John decided to take an entrepreneur course through Human Resources Development Canada, where he attained his certification in entrepreneurship.  He teamed up with a family member Ramon Charles to brainstorm on ideas of the company’s vision. “We wanted to figure out what angle, to take on a creative level to have people enjoy what we have, but to have some sort of meaning behind it.”  Jack said.  Wanting to separate their brand from the already existing brands at the time like Sean John and LRG, they did not want to be pigeon into the same category which they found generic.  So they collectively decided create a t-shirt line that would be a little bit gritty and urban but exclusive to their consumer. With John’s business savvy, his cousin Ramon’s fashion arts background and Ramon’s fellow classmate Stewart Lee, a graphic designer, the budding young professionals pulled together their business plan. “There was a lot of hours that was invested ,we would break out all our sketches and paper work [and] realize we did not have money to create samples,” says Jack. With an impressive business pitch the three were granted their first business loan, a line of credit for $10,000.  
Loop Apparel launched in 2001, a street fashion company that consists of out of box designs combining arts, culture and music.   Retailers in Japan and Toronto carried their product and the demographic was geared towards the urban downtown market, which later expanded beyond their target consumer shoppers that range from ages 10 to 60 years old.  The company reached its peak of success in 2003, when Loop Apparel decided it would be good time to expand the brand by allowing other investors to partner with their company.  “Being young and not aware of certain legalities and knowing who to trust and who to involve in the company; definitely put me in a bad situation,” Jack reflects.  As the investors were not on the same page their intentions came off as a quick hustle or just a lack of understanding of the company’s vision.  “When there is a great idea that is lucrative, you get people that will convince you, they are in agreement of what you want to do,” says Jack.  By 2005, Loop Apparel decided to close up shop; the three young entrepreneurs’ felt it was time for them to pursue other avenues as running the business took a lot of time and money which they were slowly starting to run out of.   When asked if he would do it all again Jack replies “For sure, but I would definitely seek out a mentor to help me build my company to a much sustainable level, Jack says. You never lose your creativity, what you do lose sometimes is your drive, your creativity will always be there.”

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Society's Puppet Masters

Society’s Puppet Masters
The ideal standard of beauty is found within each individual

          The world revolves around image. We have seen people fall for curvatious bodies such as: Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren. Then have the need to be supermodel thin. Now in 2012, the ideal body image is once again curvatious but with more volume this time around. Though most of these ideal bodies are fabricated by plastic surgeons. Young girls look at these women and put so much pressure on themselves trying to be just like their favourite superstar. They go to extremes trying to obtain something that is not attainable for most people. In the process they are putting their self-esteem and health in jeopardy.

         In 2004, Dove launched their "Real Beauty" campaign. This campaign focuses on bringing attention back to what a real person looks like. Dove has realized through a study that was conducted that a very small percentage of people find themselves attractive. The message that they send through their ad is to learn to love yourself and be confident with who you are. This program has the potential to educate many girls as well as young women, informing them that the media definition of beauty is unrealistic and that their beautiful just the way they are. However, it has been reported that Dove posted an audition ad that was looking for “flawless” people for an up and coming campaign they were having in 2010. This has caused many of their followers to feel like they have been tricked into believing in unrealistic standards. As well as, doubting the effectiveness of their products.

          Another campaign that was launch was the "Love My Body" campaign by Victoria’s Secret. This was a campaign to launch their new collection called Body by Victoria. When young girls compare this campaign to Dove’s campaign they are more drawn to Victoria’s Secrets image. It is hard not to fall into such stereotypes of wanting to have a body like a model. The love my Body campaign even has a flaw in the name. Instead of telling the reader’s to love their own body, they are telling reader’s to love the models bodies. Victoria’s Secrets focus has always been about beautiful models advertising the company’s undergarments. For years girls have looked to these provocative advertisements with a wanting to look just like them. But the sad reality is that even these women struggle to keep their perfect appearance. With tight deadlines it is hard for them to have children because as soon as they give birth the have an unrealistic amount of time to get back in shape. A nother truth about these models is that they are specially picked to represent this company because of their body type.

         As Society progresses the pressures of being the perfect person increases. These days girls as young as toddlers are being pressured to be perfect. The TLC television show Toddlers and Tiara’s has opened the eyes of millions of people worldwide. Some of these young girls are rumored to have already had surgical enhancements. Not only that, they are being intensely trained and drowned in makeup and hair products, with the dreams of winning beauty pageants. These children are being put into roles that they should only be subjected to if they were to choose so as an adult. The main focus should be school and developing the skills necessary to have a successful future.  At such a young age, it is damaging to their confidence because this is what they think the definition of beauty is. It is teaching them that looks are what make them successful. As these young girls mature, they will find themselves being overly critical towards their appearance and not being able to be happy with their selves.

           I can honestly say that I have been affected by the images that are said to be ideal.  When Jessica Alba’s lips and Kim Kardashian’s buttock became famous I wanted to do anything to get them. Luckily for me I am one of the many people that cannot afford to have surgical enhancements. And each year that I have gone without enhancements the more I have been able to look at my true beauty. Confidence doesn’t come at the end of a knife or through advertisements of other people; it comes from loving and respecting yourself. In all reality, there are very few campaigns or even people in the media that promote a healthy lifestyle. It is also hard to find the truth about how those people really live. We live in a world were if you have money you can fix yourself with plastic surgery.  We set our own standards and for the majority of people those standards are not real. Celebrities and the media install these standards into our heads. They are the masters and we are the puppets.

The Man Behind The Curtain

Work in the fashion industry is often portrayed in an incredibly glamorous light. One might assume that working in fashion consists of stylists, bloggers, editors attending Paris fashion week, or most will conjure up images of Carine Roitfeld dressing an immaculate Kate Moss in Givenchy’s fresh-off-the-runway designs. But the reality is jobs like this are few and far between. What about the people that don’t have their picture taken, and who don’t work for Vogue? What about the people behind the scenes who essentially produce these clothing lines?

Enter a new perspective of fascinating and important jobs in the fashion industry. For those who are not aware, apparel manufacturers are an exceedingly valuable link in the fashion cycle. The individuals that run these facilities are responsible for producing the clothing in photo shoots, as well as the clothing you wear on your back.

Ron Leibovitch is president of the Montreal based Empire Clothing Manufacturing Company.  He has been a part of the ever-growing company for 30 years, and shows no signs of slowing down.  To run an apparel manufacturing company is by no means a breeze. Empire Clothing Mfg. Co. has been a largely successful endeavor since its launch in the early 1900’s.  Empire has become a hugely successful men’s apparel firm, running all stages of manufacturing, from design to distribution. The company that began with its own private label has gone on to produce for established brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Kenneth Cole and Peter Millar. 
Here, Mr. Leibovitch discusses his beginnings in the industry, what he loves most and least about his job, and shares his advice to those considering a career in this industry we call fashion.

How did you get interested in manufacturing and eventually get hired? 
“My Grandfather, Joseph Leibovitch started this business in the early 1900’s. He would go door-to-door selling men’s suits all around Montreal, and other areas in Quebec, all on his horse and buggy. My father, Edgar Leibovitch was raised to work in this business and went into it right after high school. Throughout my childhood and teen years, I spent every Saturday morning helping out at my Dad’s office.  After finishing my last year of school, my father was anxious for me to join the business. I have been working in the business of manufacturing men’s suits and apparel ever since.”
What is a typical day like for you? 
“Everything depends on what type of year it is, for example how the economy is. If production is slow, I am more involved in merchandising and sales.  During a typical day, I oversee every aspect of my business.  I always keep an eye on production quality and dealing with people from customers, to my staff.  I oversee accounting, customer service, human resources, the merchandisers, and the entire production room on a daily basis. I make sure that the managers of the cutting room, sewing room, pressing room and of quality control, are all doing their jobs up to par. “
 What excites or interests you the most about your job?
“The relationships with the people I have in the industry, from the salesmen, customers, and suppliers, to the people within my company.  I believe that having good relationships creates happy people and this leads to a positive outcome and work experience for all. I especially enjoy building relationships and getting to know people better. Not only does this create a close and comfortable work environment, but building strong relationships result in better sales.”
 And the least?
“The number one disadvantage is stress.  I have to work very hard to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible. The amount of stress is very relative to different situations.  I also don’t enjoy the traveling aspect of my job, because I don’t like living out of a hotel and would rather be at home with my family.  I travel to visit customers, to buy fabric from different mills, and to see the latest trends for men’s clothing in Europe and Asia.  Traveling may seem glamorous, but its not, its very hard work.  I often become sleep deprived and it gets old.”
 What education, work experience and skills do you need in order to be successful in your field?
“I went to the University of Western Ontario and received my Business Degree.  After, I moved to New York, attended Fashion Institute of Technology and received a degree in Management Production. I then went to work for a Consulting Firm in New York called Emmanuel Wientraub, where my position was titled Production Engineering. After I completed my first year at Emmanuel Winetraub, my Father was anxious to have me join the family business and to start working with him. I had a wonderful relationship working with my father and learned a great deal from him.  In 1995, my father passed away and I took over the business.
I think it’s important to have strong social skills. I learned from my father that the relationships you build over the years are extremely important.  You need a great deal of energy to run this kind of business and you also need to work extremely hard and be very disciplined. It is essential to have an extensive product knowledge, but that comes over time.”
What advice would you give someone that is interested in the fashion industry?
“Find a job in the industry that you enjoy, take on the challenge, work hard and move up.  If you want to move up in this industry, you must be a capable, dynamic, innovative and creative individual. I look for people who show a lot of interest and have a very positive personality, with whatever they do. It is also very important to have developed social skills.  But, I believe that even if you are shy, with practice, you are able to learn people skills and develop your own contacts over time. As long as you are warm, positive, eager and show talent you will succeed!”