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.

The Uniform’s Role in Corporate Branding

CanadaFashionLaw is pretty excited about an upcoming event that she is hosting with FGI Toronto on October 15 at the Thomson Hotel.

We’re looking at the role that uniforms play in corporate branding. The power of uniforms, especially in service industries, should be not be overlooked. It plays an important part in representing the culture of the corporate brand. Beyond the aesthetics of the uniform, functionality and durability are critical considerations.

We have an interesting roster of panelists including Laura Di Marcello from Porter Airlines, Greg Hewitt from DHL Canada, David Mounteer from Thomson Hotel and Dierdre Kelly from the Globe and Mail.

If you’re interested in attending, check FGI Toronto’s website for details.

Mon Dieu: Chanel Accused of Counterfeiting

France is known for its fashion. Perhaps more importantly within the fashion world, Franceis known as being one of the last remaining champions of the petites mains: highly skilled tailors and seamstresses that are the “behind the scenes” technicians to Europe’s most notorious haute couture fashion houses. In a surprising David v. Goliath decision, France demonstrated its support to the petites mains.

 

World Tricot was a knitwear supplier to Chanel. In 2009, World Tricot commenced an action against Chanel after it discovered a Chanel-branded cardigan for sale bearing a striking resemblance to knitwear created by World Tricot.  Claiming ownership rights over the knitwear design, World Tricot sought damages for counterfeiting and wrongful termination of a business relationship.  Chanel vehemently denied these allegations and counterclaimed that World Tricot was publicly disparaging Chanel’s reputation and goodwill.  Moreover, Chanel stated that they had never been accused of stealing the designs of a supplier in any of their 400+ supplier arrangements.

 

At the trial level, Chanel was successful.  However, World Tricot stood its ground by appealing the decision, which ultimately resulted in Chanel paying €200,000 in damages for counterfeiting.  In today’s economy where manufacturing is globally outsourced and the domestic small shop is coming under increasing pressure, this decision is likely welcomed by France’s domestic manufacturers.  The decision is definitely a boost for the small business in the fashion industry.  There is no word yet on whether Chanel will appeal this decision to the French Supreme Court.