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Staying ahead in the custom teamwear market
October 2017

Dear customer,  

2017 has been a really great year so far. While we experienced a little set-back due to unfair actions executed by some former employees and unreliable businesspartners, but - we are still on top the game. If you are our customer, you know this already! 

Sportswear Factory has been around for years and can count on the support of our suppliers, such as MITI Spa in Italy with who we work for over 10 years. Should you require some feedback on how it could be to work, together with us, feel free to get in touch with Marco Magrini from MITI Spa Italy.

Nowadays, respecting deadlines to customers is one of the biggest challenges you face. Let me tell you what we’ve done at our plant to ensure you can overcome this part.

The following is all free of charge! It’s there for you to use, our valued customers!

- LEAN Manufacturing processes in place: 
We measure every step of manufacturing in terms of time, cost and measure the efficiency of the task. Where needed, we repeal a process until it’s finetuned for the difficult business we’re in. Difficult as time and cost of goods are 2 that go hand in hand closely

- A Track and Trace system that allows you to track your orders online from A-Z

 - You and your customer and your customer’s customer can order in the online system. You can set pricing for them and you can follow the payments as well as the progress of each particular order.

 - We are currently in a testing phase where we record the whole production process. The ultimate goal is to record the manufacturing process of EVERY garment. At the end of the manufacturing process, we could implement a QR code on the package or in the product. We will put available for you and your customer a 1 minute presentation of the production process of that particular product. So, not a general video, but a specific video on that product.  The video could have your brand’s logo as well.

- We are finalizing an online DESIGN and ordering tool for you to put available to your customers. You can customize it with your logo and incorporate to your website. We can rent out this incredible tool that will allow you to accept orders from customers for as small as a single item. The client pays online and we ship the goods to you (or to the customer – as we can agree)

- We got backed by a state supported investment fund that gives us access to lots of money to continue to invest in innovation. We are very happy that we were happy to raise a significant sum of money with lots more available. We want to continue to invest, to dream on how teamwear could look next!

We love to WOW our customers. The above are just a few steps we’ve taken over the recent months, to continue to play ahead in the pool of best manufacturers for cycling teamwear.  Let me repeat that the above is free of charge! You don’t need invest anything, to become the teamwear brand that stands out in your region.

You will be amazed by what’s next! As we aren’t done yet with innovating.

We invite you to get in touch to discover how our plant can set your company in the next gear and win the teamwear market in your region.

We’re just approximately an hour away from you in Europe! Jump on a place and come experience our way, the better way, by yourself.

Thank you again for your confidence in us and we look forward to serving you even better in the years to come.

Kevin Van Lancker

End of Year balance

December 2016

Dear valued customer,

I’ve been really lucky to have had the chance to start my career at one of the today’s leading cycling brands out of Australia. They have given me the knowledge and the network to be where I am today after ending my professional sports career but but I have never met so many talented individuals, dedicated to the future of sportswear manufacturing, as I have since I started The Sportswear Factory. So in the first place, this is a sincere Thank You to everyone involved on a day to day basis and with who I have the pleasure to work with intensively.

Their passion for positive change goes right to heart of the challenges facing our clients today. An uncertain economic climate after the Brexit, the unpredictable consequences of the new president in the United States, it all plays a role in the decision making of the purchase managers that visit us. But the team that is involved in the manufacturing of apparel at our plants, understands these challenges and by adopting new technology and listening closely to our client's needs, we have managed to finish the year at all times highs.

2016 has been a breakthrough year with export numbers through the roofs. We fill multiple plants with orders on a daily basis and have helped our customers to grow even stronger due to automated processes that make them stand out from the competition. 

We no longer need to hire extra graphic designers as we have automated the design process and will soon put that system available to you, our customer, as well. That way, we excluded the possibility for human-errors, leading to frustration from your and your end-customer's side.

I believe we are the 1st sportswear manufacturing plant in Europe that is working on a zero-waste policy. The textile industry has a bad name when it comes to pollution. Unfortunately, the technologies we use today are still causing an high level of pollution. Therefor, as of 2017, we have implemented a new plan to reduce our waste even more and make our footprint as small as possible. Fabric leftovers are being reworked into new garments. We hope to introduce a line of products made of recycled materials already during the course of 2017.

Speed is everything. We know that, our clients know that. Together we can help meet the expectations of customers who demand greater products, delivered faster than ever before. We continue to strive to ship all of our orders not more than 2.5 weeks after the order confirmation which really is an outstanding performance. And let me tell you even more: We believe that by the end of 2017, due to the automated design processes and the automated ordering systems, which took all together 4 years to develop, we will be able to ship out orders in just 7 working days.

We continue to nurture this unmatched passion for innovation in sportswear manufacturing. In the coming months and years, we will bring on board more super-talented people to bolster our teams worldwide from Australia to USA. And from South Africa to Norway. And everything in between. We are unstoppable as we are driven by the joy and lovely words from our customers when they receive their shipments of high end sports apparel produced by us. We will continue to increase rewards for the people involved in the process as I still stand by my word that too many people in Eastern Europe are underpaid, while they deliver outstanding work on a day to day basis.

Finally, I would like to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Stay safe and healthy and we hope we will do great business together in 2017. Sure come visit us at The Sportswear Factory in Riga, Latvia!

Thank you.

Kevin Van Lancker

Production in Latvia

There used to be a time that cycling brands out of Italy were way ahead of their competitors from other parts in the world. They were based close to the knitting factories that were all based in the North of Italy (Bergamo/Milan- region). 

Today, anno 2016, most of the knitting factories have moved all or large parts of their manufacturing to cheaper labour countries which are close-by such as Hungary and Romania.
It is true that most development still takes place in Italy and therefor, working with Italian fabric suppliers is a must for most of the cycling brands, willing to offer a product made of ‘Italian’ fabrics. Fair enough.

Now, due to the ease of trade within the EU-zone, apparel manufacturers based in all EU member states, can quickly avail of these Italian fabrics to include in their product.

Therefor, it’s fair to state that most of the development in the cycling industry will no longer come from the manufacturers in Italy, but all eyes should now be pointed at the cheaper labour countries such as the Balkan and the Baltics. 

The Sportswear Factory in Riga (Latvia) has been producing high end cycling, triathlon and skating gear made of Italian fabrics for years.  The engineering part, the new cuts, the fitting and everything else came out of Latvia. Latvia has a strong heritage in producing apparel. Many of you don’t know that brands such as H&M used to (till 2015) produce large amounts of apparel in the Baltics. Even Chanel and other Italian and French high level fashion brands relied on production or development companies in Latvia. 
A lot of know-how is still available from garment construction to sewing technologies. Until recently, nobody had used this advantage to stand out. Till The Sportswear Factory, led by Belgians and Latvians started to focus just on bringing the right mix of cycling expertise out of Belgium with manufacturing skills from Latvia.

Today, our view is that mass production of 1 single article in the Baltics does not make sense any more. The closing of renowned factories in Latvia that were stuck with the old mentality that mass-production is the only way for survival, is a sign that our thinking is right.

However, The Sportswear Factory in Riga is specialized in smaller volume production per style. Focussed on amounts from 1 till 500 pcs per article. Turn-around times that nobody had seen before in the cycling industry. We offer brands a very high level of flexibility in terms of production but also can help with all the development work. From picking the best materials, to fine-tuning the cuts. 

The latest technologies are available. Very strong relations to the Italian fabric suppliers, blended with crafting skills of the highest level and the close collaboration with cycling brands and their customers and sponsored pro teams globally, have made us one of the preferred partners to top brands for cycling apparel supply worldwide.

Should you, as a starting or established brand still look in the direction of Italian suppliers? I guess no. Especially if you know that factories like us are executing your order here in the Baltics and are sending the finished product back to the brand who then ships it as ‘Made in Italy’. We could produce it here with a label that says: ‘Designed in – your country of origin – and produced in EU. 

Our plant also employs graphic and product designers that can help you to achieve that perfect design, cut and fit that you wish for. 

But do not get me wrong. We did not say that you, as a cyclist, should not consider working with Italian brands. Each of the brands, no matter where they are located, have their own vision on how cycling products should look and fit. If you find your perfect garment amongst their ranges, go ahead.

This article is written for brands looking to produce cycling apparel at ‘factories’ that are putting in a stamp as ‘Made in Italy’ while you are being fooled and your product is actually made elsewhere. A product ‘Made in Latvia’ should say as much good things as a ‘Made in Italy’ sign.

We look forward to an astonishing year and welcome you to our facility at any time so we can give you insight in the ‘How we do it’ at The Sportswear Factory in Riga, Latvia.

A little story about us.

What a pleasure to see you are interested in the activities in one of the most popular European factories when it comes to manufacturing sportswear. The Sportswear Factory is been mentioned as one of the most punctual factories in Europe by sales managers of the renowned sport textile manufacturers in Italy.  This is precisely what we always wanted: Offering a top end product, 100% made in Europe, while keeping the price affordable and beating every other supplier on a mix of these.

Recent years have challenged the textile sector in the Baltics, but also globally. Brands are quitting their business relationships with Chinese factories. High quality products and quick delivery, lower MOQ’s, while keeping operational costs down are KEY today. 

It’s especially there, that we stand out.

The earlier days have not been too easy for us, as we started, just like many others out there, by using subcontractors. Unfortunately there are lot of unfair people out there, that can break your company’s image. Which is even worse, if you are standing out in the market with a brand name.  We felt there was the need to fully control the production process in order to guarantee a top notch product, delivered faster than anyone else. We understand that we are a brand's backbone. If we let you down, you are out in the market and your brand's image is in danger.

It is from that point of view, that we have chosen for an A-Z approach. We help companies with production development, material sourcing, actual production, quality control and logistics. 

In collaboration with our distributors and agents, we are now serving more clients than ever. We have also started exporting to Australia and USA, which are a new markets for us. 

We also enlarged our offer by not only focusing on cycling products, but by working together with our clients on developing more products in other segments such as soccer, yoga and basketball. Some of these products are available for other companies, to rebrand and start selling right away. 

We now have a large team that can assist you with all of your requests. And by bringing in extra know-how, we can explore into new product segments as well. In August 2015, we started developing a casual bikini line, which we launched during March 2016. This is one of the milestones set for this exciting year.

We have made further changes to facilitate ordering through our online order system which allows us to streamline orders and cut down on production time even further. 

It’s been a true pleasure serving you so far. Or, if you are a new client - looking at a mutual beneficial business relationship with us – it will be my pleasure to look together with you into what we can do. Thank you for your support so far.


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