About Me

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Los Angeles, CA
Ilse Metchek, the President of the California Fashion association (CFA), created the organization in 1994, with assistance from the major financial and manufacturing participants of the region’s apparel industry. The CFA provides leaders of the Southern California’s manufacturing and textile community with the opportunity to share information about the business of conducting business in the current global economy.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Stolen Style: Learning Series: The Piracy Paradox

Stolen Style: Learning Series: The Piracy Paradox: "So, if you’ve kept up with the Monday Learning Series, we’ve mentioned The Piracy Paradox a lot in passing, but never gone into much dept..."

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Reality of the IMBALANCE of Trade

President Obama has asked the U.S. industry to "win the future" and to do so with “innovation and by doubling exports within the next five years”. The current data makes it seem that things look good. U.S. exports are up about twenty percent so far in 2011. The problem is that the exports are being drowned out by a renewed flood of imports. As a result, the U.S. trade deficit is rising back toward the four percent of GDP level that is considered unsustainable, and portends even lower economic growth potential.

With the goal of ‘doubling’ exports, and spurred on by additional funding for development of high-speed trains, wind turbines, batteries, and solar panels, American factories are supposed to be looking toward increased production of vast high-tech products in the near future to “spur a U.S. economic renaissance that would produce good middle class jobs”.

Hi-Tech manufacturing requires an educated, trained workforce, at every level. …so why is ‘manufacturing’ relegated to the ‘hi-tech’ industries as defined by the larger companies in the industrial complex? Manufacturing is ANY kind of work that requires mastery of real things. The demands of eye-hand coordination can be intellectually demanding - with maintenance and repair work also fostering individual responsibility.

Many inventions are the result of a reflective moment when an individual worker made an assumption based on the skills acquired while on the job. Experience in production leads to innovation!

In a recent interview about companies who move their production to China, Applied Materials Executive Vice President Mark Pinto emphasized that “the critical factor in the trend is not R&D or innovation per se, but the availability of production facilities. Manufacturing also requires innovation.”

As stated by Clyde Prestowitz, President of the Economic Strategy Institute, “Innovation isn't the mana from heaven - It doesn't arise from some unique American gene. Rather than innovation leading to production, it is production that leads to innovation.”

The reason for this imbalance of exports vs. imports is not that America lacks innovation. No country has been more innovative in the past one hundred years than the United States. The reason America is increasingly losing out and lagging behind is that it lacks production - and that lack of production capability is now also leading to a decline in innovative capability.

Consider this: There is NO industrial training in most of the major US city’s schools with an alarming 38% (average) drop-out rate. These young people are willing and able to learn how to ‘make something’!

The truth is that an export-doubling target is meaningless unless all manufacturing is considered worthwhile and supported by the academic community within their curriculums, and by the removal federal, state, and local government restrictions and barriers for those entrepreneurs willing to invest in small manufacturing facilities, and train entry level employees. Investments in modern production facilities require the availability of an experienced workforce.

An experienced workforce would result in a renewed effort for modern production facilities. We do need to focus more on domestic production that can competitively substitute for imports by using our competitive advantage of ‘innovation’……that is the ONLY thing that will lead to more exports.

Friday, March 4, 2011


A letter to the next generation of designers, style-followers, producers and sellers….

The fashion industry is on your doorstep!
Fashion is NOT an elective, it is a necessity. Today we know that ‘style’ levels the playing field across socio-economic boundaries, and bridges the ethnic gaps. Even in these difficult times, fashion continues to transform and affect dreams….whether seen on the runways, on celebrities, or on the trend-setter in the neighborhood.

To thrive, Los Angeles needs a world class education system that embraces ALL students. Teach history, geography and math, along with the technology - all with a focus on fashion - and we will keep students interested in school, and help them focus on goals.

Those of us already in the business of apparel and textiles have been forced to adjust our business strategies to adapt to some of the most challenging economic times on record. Few industries have felt the effects of the recession as acutely as the design-to-manufacture-to-retail process, all due to lowered retail inventories, a ‘discount mind-set’, and the continuing credit crunch. Clearly, the ability to change quickly and successfully is more critical than ever.

BUT, we are ever optimistic….THE NEXT BIG THING IS OUT THERE! There are hidden corners of opportunity, while we find new ways to be creative. From textiles to services suppliers to apparel manufacturing, the entrepreneurs in this industry are capable of changing quickly and successfully. The best of the best are taking advantage of market and industry shifts; not merely responding to the current fashion trends.

Historically, we reinvent ourselves here in the California industry, and radically change our business models as each opportunity comes along; with the entire global industry watching and following. New designers make their mark, brands come into the fashion spotlight and are then ‘discovered’ by the mergers & acquisition (M&A) hunters. This market is so dynamic; acquisitions are being made for the people, not the assets

By expanding our reach, we have become impossible to ignore.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

CFA Seminar at LA Textile Show: 'Make it in L.A.' - March 29th, 2011

The CFA and the Los Angeles International Textile Show - Make it in Los Angeles!!!

Bringing Manufacturing BACK to the Industry cluster
..the Opportunities….the Process….Who to Call…

William Golant, The Project Cafe
David Perry, The DSP Group
Brian Weitman, STC-QST
Randy Youngblood, Apparel Resources Inc.

Ilse Metchek - California Fashion Association
Please click the link below for more information: