Wrapping Up 2013

A very happy belated new year!

Already 2014 is proving to be a very exciting year!  CanadaFashionLaw is delighted and honoured to have been asked to join Gilbert’s LLP’s partnership.  In addition, in early January CanadaFashionLaw joined a panel at the University of British Columbia’s fashion law panel.

Looking back at 2013, here are the top 5 articles posted on CanadaFashionLaw:

Naturally, throughout 2014 CanadaFashionLaw will continue to cover interesting cases, changes in legislation and interview players in the fashion industry.  Are there any topics in particular you’d like to read about?  Let us know – we’re always looking for feedback.

We’ve also added a “Getting Around Town” page that tracks all of CanadaFashionLaw’s upcoming and past speaking gigs, authored articles and interviews.  Feel free to check it out.

Wishing the best for a happy, healthy and successful 2014!

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Factoring in Logistics

CanadaFashionLaw was delighted to moderate a panel for FGI Toronto on the importance of uniforms in corporate branding and also to attend the DHL sponsored panel during Toronto’s Fashion Week on business considerations in the fashion industry.

As part of CanadaFashionLaw‘s fashion chats series, we sat down with Greg Hewitt, President of DHL Canada, to get his perspective on the importance of logistics in the fashion industry.

Shipping, importing and exporting is a huge component of the fashion industry.  What type of business consideration should be given to logistics?

Set out goals, develop a business plan and educate yourself about what it takes to start a business with a trusted financial advisor. Map out a 3 month / 6 month / 1 year plan to get started. Keep in mind that understanding supply and demand for your product is crucial in deciding on not only how to start your business, but how to make it efficient and profitable in a competitive market.

Few SMEs have the luxury of a dedicated shipping department to handle the logistics of shipping outside Canada, especially when you are first launching your brand. Taking the time to establish a clear and effective shipping strategy is the key to business success. Working with established logistics partners, like DHL, that have experience in your markets can help you establish a clear strategy and ensure your business is equipped to handle the demands of a fast-paced fashion industry.

How is DHL geared to assisting Canada’s fashion industry’s logistical needs?

DHL has more than 100,000 international specialists on the ground. There is a huge variety of different business sectors in which SMEs operate. DHL can offer expert advice and solutions to all sectors and to all companies, no matter how small.  Smooth logistics can help SMEs reduce paperwork and processing; create stronger linkage with foreign partners and establish new relationships with a foreign customer base; manage cash tied up in inventory; give SMEs the flexibility to adapt quickly and cost effectively to new orders and spikes or peaks in demand; support with export / shipping including complex customs procedures; provide professional training programs for client.

If you begin importing or exporting, there are customs, trade and shipping laws that will come into play. These can vary greatly from one country to the next, and these laws will not only govern how your shipment is received, but they will also be specific to the type of product being sent.  To stay on top of changing regulations, be in constant contact with your logistics partner who will have the most current, up to date information available for you.

Are there challenges that are distinct to startups v. established businesses?

Breaking into any industry – be it technology, entertainment or fashion — has its obstacles. The fashion industry is no different; what makes sense in a startup scenario is likely relevant whether you are making software or sarongs.  A young entrepreneur needs to realize that in the 21st century, shopping is no longer simply about purchasing goods to fulfill certain basic needs. Connection with the customer and visual attractiveness are likewise crucial – especially to online retailers. SMEs have to understand that and capitalize on developing a solid strategy that emphasizes that connection between retailer and customer.  A purchase is most often an “emotional” one – a buying decision made solely on emotional attachment or want for something. Therefore, creating a “real” and engaging experience in online shops becomes a priority. This is getting more and more important as consumers are confronted with more and more products and buying channels. Thus, their loyalties for brands and retailers are decreasing. However, retailers can create new ways to attract and retain customers by offering them innovative shopping experiences.  In the age of mobile technology, the role of the physical store is changing. According to industry experts, modern retail stores will become places focused on fostering customer relationships, maintaining brand awareness, offering a lifestyle experience and selling a good time.

DHL has been a great supporter of Canada’s fashion industry.  Can you tell us about some of your initiatives? 

DHL initiated the Friends of Fashion Program, is a partner of IMG and Fashion Group International and participates in programs such as the DHL Fashion Industry Panel to disseminate important information.

Chatting with Porter Airlines’ Supervisor of Uniforms

At CanadaFashionLaw we love learning about interesting facets of the fashion industry and love to help fashionistas become aware of different career paths within the industry.   So when we met Laura DiMarcello, the Supervisor of Uniforms at Porter Airlines, we had to share her story.  Laura gives insight into the important role that uniforms can play in corporate branding.  We hope you enjoyed this interview, as much as we enjoyed putting it together!

How did your career path lead you to head up the uniforms department at Porter?

When I was in my early 20’s, my career started in beauty. I loved make up, color, and the creativity of being an artist. I had recently graduated from the Humber College Fashion Arts program, and was managing “Faces” – a beauty retail shop. One day a good friend had an opportunity for me to work in the fashion wholesale industry.   I didn’t know much about the business and I was thrilled by the possibilities, so I immediately accepted the position.

My career started in showroom sales as an Administrator and  over 7 years I grew to become brand Manager; dealing with buyers across the north American market, creating distribution strategies, visiting international tradeshows, and trying to sell your line as the next best thing Beyoncé ever had.  Throughout all my sales adventures I was privileged to work with some of the greats –Versace, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Belstaff.  I learned about quality, luxury, heritage and innovation in design.  It was only natural that I became interested in design and product development, which eventually lead me to study a degree in design at OCAD University. When presented with the opportunity to head up Porter Airline’s uniform department, I immediately saw the value and potential of working with such a dynamic airline.  The brand is innovative, the product had to be modern, and I had a good idea of where we could find it.

How integral are uniforms in the corporate branding strategy?

Canadian based ready-to-wear designer Pink Tartan originally designed our uniforms. The image has been a huge part of the corporate branding strategy from day one, and that’s something that will never change.

It is very important that we are “on-brand” with our look, to the point that it can be challenging to bring about change. Our product development process involves many departments from Marketing, People and Culture, and Safety Operations. The look must reflect the Porter brand, but uniform performance is just as important. This is where fashion meets function and where creativity can reach innovation.

Porter is “flying refined”.  How much has this been reflecting in the uniforms?

Refined to me is defined by taking an existing design and changing it to make it better.

I reflect that statement by following criterion defined by quality, functionality, sustainability, innovation, and cost. At Porter, I can think out side of the box and use resources from the fashion industry rather than strictly uniform manufactures. For example, we recently partnered with Brooks Brothers Corp. as our private label manufacture of cabin crew dress shirts. We all can respect the quality of a Brooks non-iron 100% cotton executive dress shirt. Fashion houses are interested in the corporate business too. Giving business to commercial brands who know their product eases my mind, since I know that the product will be quality inspected and deliver the results I’m looking for.

What has surprised you as the biggest challenge and greatest delight?

I had never dealt with uniforms before joining Porter, and the business has grown at such a rapid pace. My biggest challenge is to manage inventory. Dressing the entire company is like a  dressing a little city of 1,200 navy blue citizens. This can be difficult if not organized. In order to keep up with our growth, we have had to change certain processes. After some initial growing pains, we are finally able to maintain a consistent inventory.  Other challenges like sourcing new software and developing an in-house showroom have  provided  valuable learning experience and resulted in significant improvements to the department so far. Who else can say they have a fashion showroom in a hangar?

What is your favourite Porter destination?

Home base YTZ (Toronto) is always # 1 but…….. EWR (Newark) has stolen my heart with a 20 min ride to NYC.