Challenges, Opportunities & Best Practices In Sewn Products

Michael McDonald

SPESA President Michael McDonald shares some insights about the association’s upcoming Advancements in Manufacturing Technologies Conference.

TW Special Report

The Raleigh, N.C.-based Sewn Products Equipment & Suppliers of the Americas (SPESA) association serves suppliers to the sewn products industry operating in various market sectors including apparel, upholstered furniture, home textiles, transportation interiors, leather goods, footwear, industrial textiles, among other sectors. Some of its members are manufacturers and distributors of machinery, systems, technology, supply chain solutions, equipment and parts; while other members offer products and services for the development, production and/or distribution of sewn goods.

Part of SPESA’s mission includes providing members with high-quality networking and education opportunities, and the association organizes multiple events every year. Textile World recently had the opportunity to talk with SPESA President Michael McDonald about one such event, the 2024 Advancements in Manufacturing Technologies Conference, which will be held April 11 in Los Angeles.

TW: Give a summary of SPESA’s value proposition. Tell readers what sets SPESA apart and what we can expect from the organization in the future.

McDonald: For more than 30 years, SPESA has been the leading industry association serving suppliers to the sewn products industry. These suppliers are manufacturers and distributors of machinery, systems, technology, supply chain solutions, equipment, and parts, along with other products and services used for the development, manufacture, or distribution of sewn products.

It’s important to note that SPESA’s membership is intentionally limited to suppliers. This allows us to provide a platform for our members to discuss the challenges, opportunities, and best practices that impact their day-to-day business with others who are in the same or similar position.

In addition to being an industry association, SPESA is also the co-producer of Texprocess Americas, the largest sewn products and technology trade show across North, Central, and South America. The next edition of Tex-process Americas will take place May 6-8, 2025.

TW: SPESA is hosting its Advancements in Manufacturing Technologies Conference in Los Angeles for the first time. What do you hope the location will contribute to the event?

McDonald: SPESA is a huge supporter of U.S.manufacturing, and we believe advanced technology is key to its future success. So, we thought it was time to bring that technology to the industry’s backyard.

Los Angeles is home to around 40,000 garment industry workers and more than 3,000 fashion-related businesses, making it the largest apparel manufacturing center in the country. This is an ecosystem unlike any other. And one that is driving a significant amount of change for the industry.

The main purpose of the SPESA Advancements in Manufacturing Technologies Conference is in the name of the event: advancements. Showcasing various manufacturing capabilities and technologies — all with the goal of advancing the sewn products industry — is at the heart of what we try to accomplish with this event. And we’re hosting it in a place where real change is taking shape.

Our hope is that the Advancements Conference taps into the dialogue currently taking place in Los Angeles and across California about how the industry can and should change, while also bringing to the table new issues and opportunities to address.

TW: Give a quick value synopsis for a first-time attendee. What can they expect to see and learn at the conference?

McDonald: The SPESA Advancements in Manufacturing Technologies Conference is unique in that it focuses solely on manufacturing innovations. What technology is available to improve supply chain efficiencies? What types of equipment are being utilized to cut back on waste? How are tech trends like artificial intelligence and automation impacting the industry workforce? These are the types of things we like to cover during the Advancements Conference.

Attendees will not only have the opportunity to hear and learn about the latest in manufacturing technologies, but they’ll also be able to engage in the discussion and share their challenges to help understand the industry’s future technology needs. Open dialogue between speakers and attendees is a very important component in all SPESA events.

TW: What type of attendees typically participate in the conference?

McDonald: Participation in the event runs the gamut.You will see suppliers, manufacturers, designers, brands, retailers and academia. This event takes place in different markets across the United States and our hope is that it drives a lot of local interest.

TW: Is this a members-only event or can anyone involved in the sewn products industry attend?

McDonald: Everyone is welcome to attend! In fact, we strongly encourage non-members to attend the Advancements Conference. What this event offers is a platform for equipment suppliers and technology providers — notably SPESA members — to share the latest in manufacturing advancements.

It will be especially valuable for manufacturers, brands, and designers looking for technology to help improve their production. But, there will be a little something for everyone, including great networking in a beautiful setting overlooking L.A.’s skyline.

TW: Does SPESA have any other interesting events planned in 2024?

McDonald: Yes. We will host the 2024 SPESA Executive Conference in Montréal. It will be our first event in Canada, and we are very excited to explore this historic and resurging market. More information will be available soon!

TW: Anything else you would like to share with TTWW readers about SPESA and the upcoming conference?

McDonald: Most of the work we do is built on the principle that there is always more to learn. While our event speakers are experts in their fields, and have a lot to teach us, no one person has all the answers to the industry’s challenges. This is why events like the Advancements Conference are so important; attendees aren’t coming to hear a lecture, they are coming to engage and work together as industry to create solutions that work.
Early bird registration for the SPESA Advancements Conference is available through Friday, February 16. In addition, TW readers may use the code “innovation” for $50 off registration.

For more information about SPESA’s Advancements in Manufacturing Technologies Conference and to register using the discount code, please visit 2024-spesa-advancements-conference/

January/February 2024