Since 2007, Said Dib and I have traveled to China and Hong Kong at least 4 times a year with the intention of establishing our business relationship in a strong way with Asian textile manufacturers and customers offices based in Asia. Now, 6 years later, I think that we accomplished that target. In fact, in our textile sourcing, we have found great fabric mills and great people like Young Sam Kim from Korea, Mr. Mozart from Taiwan, Ms. Neri (but I already knew her) and all the teams working for them. I can say they are very dedicated and hard working mills that understand totally the kind of commitment requested by US customers.
On the Global Apparel Manufacturing, we really love to work with our leather factory Twincity, that is completely Chinese owned. Its team is fantastic. The boss, Tommy, is the nicest guy we could have met in Guangzhou and he always works on new developments to fulfill our constant sales needs. So, I can say we have been lucky to meet all these people and, thanks to a strong relationship (guanxi), our efforts were successful.
Of course, we also met many other people that weren't that good but this is part of taking risks and also working internationally with totally different culture, mentality and without speaking the language! Communication barrier is one of the mayor issues we face over and over and when there was no explanation, the other part most of the time would say: This is China.
Anyway, we arrived to a point that we also looked at new opportunities, and through my Korean partner Mr. Kim, we were able to meet and enjoy the enthusiastic Jessica Lee that is the General Manager of Hyunjin apparel, a Korean owned factory in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam. Both companies (Alfatex and Hyunjin) are Korean and they understood immediately the need to step up in this market and join forces in order to offer a real full package (Fabric/trims and garments) to our top customers like Anthropologie/Free People, Calvin Klein, The Limited and many more. In April, we are all meeting in Vietnam to visit the 2 factories Kovina Fashion and Highvina Apparel that count about 3000 works specialized in constructed jackets, suits and soft dresses.
The need of expanding outside China was due from the continuous raise of workers' salaries (at least 15%) and the lower priority of Chinese business towards export markets thanks to the developments of their domestic huge market. South Est Asia is now developing their economies like China 10-15 years ago. Hopefully, they will have a slower cost increase as their internal market is not so expanded like China and they should be more motivated in export business to feed their internal growth.