Planning to See New Colours, Fabrics and Technology plus Handmade Styles
At Wei's, a New Year means a new trip down South to the USA, where Western and Work clothing and apparel makers are gathering for big trade shows. Wei's is there to see what they have and what you might want to see in your closet and in the mirror.
When you're a big brand like Ariat, Carhartt, Wrangler, Cinch and some others, you have to plan ahead. Bringing your next favourite shirt to your back involves a lot of people. Of course clothing is a big business, and these big apparel manufacturers have several departments that need to speak to each other as they plan new styles.
Some people have been working on new designs and colours, reading the fashion and interior design trade papers, and Pantone Colour of the Year updates, then preparing samples or get just the right shade they want. An iconic colour like Carhartt Brown didn't just happen overnight!
Sewing is at the heart of clothing, and a well-placed dart, gusset or stitch can make a big difference to how clothing fits. The last few years have seen Carhatt and Ariat each bring out new ways of attaching shirt sleeves to shoulders that allow a fuller motion without resistance from your clothing. Sometimes these sewing innovations can even be patented. Competition is fierce.
Other departments weigh in on new safety or technical regulations and codes from different jurisdictions. If Canada's Yukon is changing a Hi-Vis code, does that mean all of Canada will follow, and what about the USA? Meeting workplace safety codes is mandatory, and if a brand is in the business, they'd better get it right.
Wei's constantly talks with our customers who work in the mines, in the oilfield and on paving crews or in fabrication shops, and we're learning what is needed in your workplace. Even farming is becoming more regulated, and the government takes a look at hazards that might be inherent in clothing styles. Big clothing companies pay attention too.
The sourcing or procurement department of a big apparel company is keeping tabs on new fabrics. They're also checking the source textile mills are meeting safety requirements for workers, and asking for compliance with ever-improving international standards. From the short list of a Plan A, Plan B or Plan C supplier, they take a closer look at what's available and might commission new fabrics.
Yes, clothing is a big business. But Wei's have been here for 65 years and counting. Sure, we get interested or even a little excited at new developments, but we've seen a lot with these eyes, and it takes a lot to impress us with something that is truly "new". When we say we've listened to a thousand clothing company representatives, and our fingers have touched ten thousand fabrics or leathers, you can believe us.
When we've visited literally hundreds of booths, our dogs are barkin'! Good thing we have comfortable footwear. but after several hours, it's time to take a load off.
What's the best part? Easy. It's meeting the small manufacturers, the ones who are making things more or less how they've always been made.
These are individuals who feel a passion and even a vision for how they see clothing being made and what their clothing means to the person who wears it. They want to connect with others who feel that passion too.
They are often very small shops, truly working at the living room table or in the workshop. They could be living off the grid up in the mountains where they make apparel for a living, and come to the shows once a year, bringing their soul with them in the form of what they've made.
It may not be easy for some of them to afford to travel and buy display space at these big trade shows. They have to plan ahead too, and paying their bills depends on selling their styles. They've got one eye on the trends the big brands are following, and the other eye on their work table as they make clothing and apparel that speaks to their very own taste.
At the shows, we seek out the smaller spaces of these individuals where we talk to the person who actually buys the leather and runs the sewing machine, in addition to doing the warehousing and filing the taxes. Because they make apparel styles one by one or in small batches, these people are often attracted by discussing custom work for Wei's.
Finding these individual entrepreneurs is one of the joys of going to these big shows. This is when we get a little excited, waiting for our commissioned pieces to arrive. When their order finally comes in and we see the handmade quality and unique designs, we're proud to hang these items up and look forward to you seeing them too. These are truly special items that nobody else has, except Wei's and you.
Wei's is looking forward to bringing new styles, new technology and new unique items to our stores and online. They don't all arrive in the next month - sometimes it takes several months to get everything in, counted and tagged and described with a good picture. But when you see our New Arrival signs, you have an appreciation for the whole clothing industry. We do too.
Whoever planned trade shows to happen in the middle of the Canadian Winter may have planned ahead with us in mind. After these shows, we're going to squeeze in a few rounds of golf in the warm and sunny South, while the staff minds the stores.
It's not easy to find time for a vacation, but we do our best!
Thank you for your business, and see you in a couple of weeks. We'll have lots of news, and lots of new inventory on the way.