Gildan has been a leading supplier of quality basic family apparel for much of the past 30 years. Marc Fraimund, European sales, and Jeffrey Cooper, VP and marketing, provide a little insight into the company.
Marc Fraimund – European sales:
Q. So Marc, can you provide our readers with a background on Gildan and what the company is known for?
A. Gildan is a leading supplier of quality branded basic family apparel, including T shirts, fleece, sport shirts, underwear, socks, hosiery, and shapewear. We sell our products under a diversified portfolio of company-owned brands, including the Gildan, Gold Toe and Anvil brands and brand extensions, as well as the recently acquired Secret, Silks and Therapy Plus brands. The company also has licensing arrangements for the Under Armour, Mossy Oak and New Balance brands. We distribute our products in printwear markets in the US and Canada, as well as in Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. We also market our products to a broad spectrum of retailers primarily in the US and Canada. The company also manufactures for select leading global athletic and lifestyle consumer brands.
Gildan owns and operates vertically-integrated, large-scale manufacturing facilities which are primarily located in Central America and the Caribbean Basin and are strategically positioned to efficiently service the quick replenishment needs of its customers in the printwear and retail markets. Gildan has over 43,000 employees worldwide and is committed to industry-leading labour and environmental practices at all of its facilities.
Q. Gildan operates all around the world, how does each market differ in terms of what products sell best, how you target your customers and how you conduct your business?
A. The global approach in terms of products, customer type and the way we run our business is fairly standard across all regions. We do identify specific requirements between regions most notably the local size specifications but total variations from our core standard product offering remains limited so we can maintain production output efficiency. In each region, we only have a limited amount of customers who have all become very strong partners and have helped us develop our brands.
Q. What is the decoration potential of Gildan’s garments? Who are the garments more suited for?
A. Wholesale distributors sell our products to screenprinters and embroiderers, who decorate the products with designs and logos and sell the imprinted activewear to a highly diversified range of end-use markets, including educational institutions, athletic dealers, event merchandisers, promotional product distributors, charity organisations, entertainment promoters, travel and tourism venues and retailers.
Our activewear products are used in a variety of daily activities by individuals, including work and school uniforms and athletic team wear, and for various other purposes to convey individual, group and team identity.
Q. Can you predict what trends are around the corner for the UK and Europe in the coming years?
A. If only I could! Internet and the webshop platform linked with developments in relatively cheap and easy to use digital printing techniques are definitely bringing a much needed new dynamics to the industry.
Q. Is there a typical Gildan customer? Have customers changed what they are after in a product? Do they now care about how and where their clothing is produced?
A. Gildan offers a range of garments with consistent quality, good value and the guarantee that it was produced in factories with some of the highest Corporate Social Responsibility level. This combination of factors naturally appeals to many customers and explains our success globally.
Q. How do you see the demand for T shirts in the future? Are there any new developments or twists in the pipeline? Or is a T shirt always a T shirt?
A. I don’t believe we have ever seen so many different variations on the T shirt theme appearing over the last five years. For many people, the T shirt is the first garment they put on and so is and will remain an endless source of inspiration for designers. Connected wearables is only the very latest trend and I would not be surprised to see performance fabric being able to measure your heartbeat very soon.
Jeffrey Cooper – VP and marketing:
Q. So Jeffrey, Gildan has been in the garment industry for 30 years, how do you think the printwear market has changed during those 30 years?
A. You probably don’t have enough room in this article to cover 30 years of industry change, but I believe the most significant has been the advancement in printing technologies, printing techniques, machinery and inks. As well as the diverse product offering by mills made available for distributors to sell to decorators. Those two advancement categories have made it possible to provide/create better quality garments that are trend right. All with a quicker turnaround time to market than 30 years ago.
Q. How has Gildan grown to become a market leader? What methods have been used during that time for Gildan to grow into the business it is today?
A. Gildan has become one of the leaders in the imprintable industry because we are known for providing quality and value products offering the widest range of sizes and colors that are easy to embellish on. Gildan is viewed as the dependable, honest and trusted brand. We are a clear choice of distributors, decorators and their customers and play a major role in their business while reaching millions of consumers in over 40 countries around the world. The method we used then and now is vertical integration. Gildan owns the majority of its factories which provides us the opportunity to control each step of the production process from spinning the yarn, making the fabric to cutting and sewing the apparel, Gildan controls and ensures we are producing consistent quality products.
Q. Have there been any changes in terms of trends/styles/colours in the garment decoration sector during those 30 years?
A. Like the retail fashion industry, trends, styles and colours change yearly if not seasonally. There are too many additions over the past 30 years to discuss. What I can say is that for the printwear industry, we want to add styles and colours that will last much longer then the trend stage and stay in our product line for years to come. We watch the retail industry for trends that we believe will last and also look to our distributors and end users for their insights also.
Q. Are there any garments which have remained constant big sellers for you throughout or others that were popular for a period of time and have ebbed away?
A. T shirts, fleece and sport shirts (polo shirts) are what we refer to as basic apparel and is the core of the Gildan product line. I believe you would be hard pressed not to find those three categories of garment in the drawers or closets of the everyday consumer. We have been fortunate not to drop too many styles but if we do, it is because of demand (or lack thereof) by the end user and their consumer.
Q. What trends do you expect to develop over the next couple of years? What new products does Gildan have in the pipeline?
A. For Gildan, we will always keep our eyes and ears open for the next opportunity. For 2015, we are expanding our sport shirt line and adding some great 100% cotton double pique shirts as well as two new 100% polyester sport performance sport shirts with wicking properties. We also believe blended, lighter fabrications are trending and you can see that in our anvil brand with the addition of Tri-Blend styles (50% polyester-25% combed ring spun cotton-25% viscose).
Q. Why would customers choose the Gildan brand over other brands? What sets you apart?
A. Gildan strives to provide the best quality, best fitting apparel at a great value. We believe our consumer relies on us for great product that is consistently available at a great price.
For more information visit www.gildan.com