Luxury Cotton for Fashion and Home Textiles

Apparel | Sunday, June 12, 2011



By Nancy Boyd

NEW YORK—The headline read “On Target, On Budget.”

And the story prominently featured Supima.

Writing in a recent edition of Textile World, managing editor Janet Bealer Rodie countered the common perception that all U.S. apparel manufacturing has migrated offshore.

And called out the success of Buhler, a longtime Supima licensee, to prove her point.

Here’s some of what she said:

The U.S./Western Hemisphere supply chain offers not only quick response, but also advantages in terms of trust, reliability and transparency, according to David Sasso, vice president, sales, of Jefferson, Ga.-based Buhler Quality Yarns Corp., a subsidiary of Switzerland-based Hermann Bühler AG. With 150 employees and 32,000 ring spindles, Buhler spins 170,000 pounds of yarn weekly from domestically produced Supima® cotton; MicroTencel® and MicroModal® from Austria-based Lenzing AG; and blends of Supima and Lenzing’s fibers.

It’s a closed-loop type of supply chain in which everything is transparent from the raw material forward, and there’s a good flow of information for deliveries and pricing,” Sasso said.

Buhler’s Supima supplier is J.G. Boswell Co., located in California’s San Joaquin Valley and the largest Supima farmer in the state, Sasso said. Rather than buying cotton through a broker, Buhler works directly with Boswell to ensure it receives the high quality of cotton it needs to meet customer demand.

“Because of the type of market we’re in, we have to reduce variation as much as possible,” Sasso said. “With natural fiber, if you buy fiber from one region meeting certain specs instead of across various regions, you’ll find it’s more consistent in quality, and that’s really key to starting a quality product.”

Buhler’s direct relationship with its Supima supplier also pays off in that Boswell officials visit the spinning mill, and are able to observe how the cotton is running on Buhler’s equipment and see if any improvements need to be made. “If you’re going through a broker, you miss that and have no say-so in the quality,” Sasso said. “It’s important to us as a quality spinner to align ourselves with a quality farmer. That’s the first step in the whole supply chain.”

Sasso also said a very tight coordination between the fiber supplier and the yarn spinner is necessary in order to provide timely delivery of yarn to the next link in the supply chain — the fabric manufacturer. Buhler sells its yarns to a number of U.S.-based knitters that supply fabric to apparel brands, which manufacture finished product in the United States and in other Western Hemisphere countries that are parties to free trade agreements (FTAs) with the United States. Through the FTAs, these countries are bound by country-of-origin rules that favor the use of materials produced within the FTA member countries.

To read the rest of the story, click here.


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