Partnership ITC and IAF: Full Supply Chain Profitability


The International Trade Centre (ITC) and the International Apparel Federation (IAF) announce a partnership to stimulate innovation towards “full supply chain profitability” for apparel manufacturers and brands. The first phase of collaboration is research to be previewed at the 38th IAF World Fashion Convention, Philadelphia, October 23-24. Applying learning in autos and electronics, a joint study articulates how material suppliers and garment manufacturers create ‘smart flexibility’ by postponing production commitments closer to actual demand, unlocking capital from unneeded inventory and excess production. Smart Flexibility is a new approach that uses a mix of process and data tools enabling suppliers to create additional value for brands and manufacturers alike that supersedes the benefits of lowest cost global sourcing.  

The Sustainable Terms of Trade Initiative (STTI), published and co-initiated by IAF, placed ‘full supply chain profitability’ as a research priority in 2021. The STTI, addressing improvement of purchasing practices, sees smart flexibility, or shared risk, as a highly productive alternative to the predominant imbalance of sourcing relationships. Smart flexibility elevates purchasing practices beyond seasonal, transactional contracts to deliver mutual goals for sustainability. Conventional, often adversarial bargaining need not define industry culture as new technology with AI injects fresh insight across one of the world’s oldest, most globalized supply chains. 

The 38th IAF World Fashion Convention, organised with US partner SPESA (Sewn Products Equipment Suppliers Association of the America’s) in Philadelphia, is a preview to study insights. IAF Secretary General Matthijs Crietee will moderate a panel session including the main contributor to the study, John Thorbeck; Brad Ballentine, CEO of MAS ACME, the US subsidiary of giant manufacturing group MAS Holdings; and Scott Walton, of Kornit Digital, a major supplier of digital printing equipment. Official publication, titled, “Under the Banyan Tree: Buyers and Suppliers in Fashion,” will be announced in joint timetable and events by the ITC and IAF.