Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fashion: Clothing Makers Struggle With Cotton Prices, Some Turn to "The Touch, the Feel—Of Rayon?" (VF, HBI; JCP; WMT; RYN)

Cotton was up last year:

From Finviz, the final year performance figures.
And is trading higher today at $1.4725 although it remains considerably below the all-time record high reached on Dec. 21, $1.5912.

First up, the Guardian:
Manufacturers report that cotton suppliers will no longer quote firm prices in advance for new collections
Tracey Samuel's designer romper suits and sweaters have a celebrity following: the offspring of chef Jamie Oliver and film star Gwyneth Paltrow have been pictured in outfits made by her trendy kids' label Bonnie Baby.

But this year Samuel is worried that her products will have a celebrity price tag to match as cotton prices surge to record highs. For the first time since she started the business five years ago, the entrepreneur has been unable to pin suppliers to quotes without placing an order. Like thousands of other small clothing businesses, the Hove-based company is being buffeted by a global storm that has already seen high street chain Next react by raising prices 8%.

"The prices [suppliers] are quoting are making me fall over," said Samuel. "They are 30%-40% higher than last year… We have been unable to confirm the [garment's] price until the day we put our order in. Suppliers say: 'this is today's price'."

In the past Bonnie Baby, whose products are sold in high-end department stores such as Harrods and Harvey Nichols, could get an accurate price three months in advance for its twice-yearly collections. But the higher cotton price means a cotton babygrow in Samuel's winter's collection could cost up to £5 more, coming in at £25....MORE
And from the Wall Street Journal:

Rising cotton prices are pushing a forgotten retro staple back onto the fashion runway: Rayon.
Cotton prices surged 91% in 2010, leaving designers and clothes makers scrambling to find lower-cost alternatives. One of their favorite replacements is rayon, an 80-year-old fabric whose last golden age was in the 1980s, when it was used in everything from Hawaiian shirts to sequined vests.

The largest ingredient in rayon, a base substance known as dissolving wood pulp, is now in huge demand, boosting stocks of companies which historically followed new home starts and newsprint costs.

The result of the rayon renaissance has been huge gains for Fortress Paper, Tembec Inc. and Rayonier Inc. Fortress stock more than doubled over the past six months to 44 Canadian dollars ($44.17), Tembec spiked 140% to C$4.36, while Rayonier jumped 22% over the same period to $55.50.

Global production of dissolving pulp, which is also used in filters, screen films and diapers, grew by roughly 25% to 5.2 million tons since 2008, according to Tembec.

Brokerage analysts say they see more gains ahead for the companies, putting price targets between C$50 to C$65 for Fortress; C$4.25 to C$5.35 for Tembec; and $56 to $60 for Rayonier.

"In general, we try to find alternatives to cotton whenever possible," said Sera Coblentz, who develops clothes for New York's Meryl Diamond Ltd. "Everyone had it in their lines for the last season."...MORE 
Getty Images
Sachika's Rayon evening gown,
modelled in September, is made from wood pulp.