Alexander Black

British telecom’s “Alexander Black:” a bid to revive bricks-and-mortar retail with digital tools

For the better part of two decades, retailers and tech startups have been inventing new ways to improve the digital shopping experience. Meanwhile, the bricks-and-mortar store remains much as it was 30 years ago.
That’s changing gradually, as sophisticated brands try to blend the real life and digital experience, and they’ve made plenty of progress. But I’d never seen all the in-store tech gingerbread at once until Monday, when I took a tour of British Telecom’s “store of the future” concept store in Midtown.
Called Alexander Black, the store is meant to show off the 15 different tech components BT is selling its corporate customers. To be only slightly dramatic about it, the goal: To save physical retail by including all the customization, on-demand and marketing tools we’ve come to expect online.
“It’s all about increasing sales and increasing the customer experience,” said Alison Wiltshire, BT’s global retail propositions director.
As I approached, I start off by logging into the store’s smartphone app via QR code, which creates a profile of me in their customer-relations management database, and starts building my preferences and buying history into my account. But thanks to beacons (both physical beacons and audio beacons on the background music soundtrack), the store knows I’m there even if I don’t log in.

There’s an video display advertising board that, using a camera, determined my gender, age and skin tone as I stood in front of it, then adjusted which advertising creative images to show me. For instance, it switched from women models to men when I stood there. It measures my “dwell time” looking at the creative, data that can be used to inform ad strategy elsewhere.
The most interesting new trick I saw: the “intelligent fitting room,” which tracks what customers try on, and then also recommends other products or follow-up mobile marketing messages based on their behaviors.

And if a particular location doesn’t have the size, color and style of a product, the same display can send me to a store’s e-commerce site where I can place an order, a bid to defray showrooming. This would make any traditional clothing store like one of NYC startup Bonobos’ new guideshop concept, allowing a multi-location chain to centralize inventory while still making sales at smaller stores.

Another was product platforms that identify an item, say a shoe, by its weight and size. If you place the shoe on the platform, an adjacent tablet displays relevant information. Beacons are attached to mannequins, feeding my smartphone detailed information about products on display — where to find it in the store, for instance, if it strikes my eye. There was more to the store, but that’s what stood out in a quick tour.

My thoughts? Actually shopping at a store that’s bought and integrated British Telecom’s tools would be feel overwhelming at first. It’d be unnerving to exchange pleasantries with a salesman who knows exactly who I am and what I buy. But, of course, that’s a tradeoff I’ve happily made online, in exchange for a full product stock and granular customization options. So it could just be a matter of getting used to it in real life.

Nexgen begin operations in Guatemala

Nexgen begins operations in Guatemala country

Newspaper: Prensa Libre
Page No. 36
By Eddy Coronado

Economic world / Stock exchange and indicators

The company Nexgen Packaging, with headquarters in Chicago, EE. UU, inaugurated operations yesterday in the country. The investment amounts up to US$1 million.
The company will offer labels for the apparel industry and expects to serve orders of Central America and The Caribbean.
This is the first operation in Latin America, said Mike Naimo, founding partner.
Besides they expect to offer 50 direct employment opportunity and more than 200 indirectly.
“The logistic capacity of the country was the motivation for opening operations”, explained Juan Carlos Ortiz, manager of the Firm.
Photo Caption: JUAN CARLOS Ortiz, manager of Nexgen Packaing shows labels beside the partner Mike Naimo.

Nexgen Packaging - Hong Kong

Nexgen continues global expansion with opening of a new Hong Kong office & expansion of its Hong Kong digital printing center.

Supporting US and EU based customers across China, Hong Kong, and other APAC countries Romeoville, IL, August 12, 2014—Nexgen Packaging, a leading provider apparel identification and RFID products, today announced it has opened a new regional HQ in Hong Kong to support its growing customer base across the Asia-Pacific region. In addition, Nexgen is expanding its digital printing center, which opened last fall.

The HQ facility is located in the Trade Square Plaza in Kowloon, Hong Kong, and will function as both a sales and technical support office for customers in China, Hong Kong, and other key APAC countries.

The facility will offer support and sales for Nexgen’s rapidly growing US and European retail and apparel clients.
“Nexgen’s new office in Hong Kong provides a great local base in the region, allowing us to offer our clients exceptional support and access to the latest products and services,” said Andy Effron, Nexgen Packaging CEO. “The move also allows us to grow our presence in an important global market. The new space allows us to house our staff of 250 employees and leaves us some room for growth.”
Nexgen Packaging operates across the globe with headquarters in Romeoville, IL , and facilities across The America’s, Asia and Europe. In Q1 2015, Nexgen will be announcing additional APAC offices.

The company currently has more than 325 employees worldwide.

The new office in Hong Kong follows Nexgen’s announcement in 2013, of a new US Corporate office & Service Bureau which opened in Romeoville, IL & Guatemala City, Guatemala and Reading, UK.
Nexgen Packaging, LLC is a global provider of apparel brand identification and packaging products, servicing the creative, product development, and production needs of apparel manufacturers and retailers, and their global manufacturing partners. Nexgen is focused on simplifying everything from the creative process to order execution, utilizing innovative technologies to increase efficiency and enhance customer service. Nexgen offers a comprehensive range of products and services designed to meet its customers’ product identification needs, including: woven labels, printed labels, heat transfers, hang tags, integrated tags, price tickets, wrap bands, patches, boxes, poly bags and a broad range of specialized products. Our customers include a broad range of Apparel Brands and Retailers.

Nexgen has operations in the US, UK, Hong Kong and major apparel producing countries globally.

Nexgen Packaging - Kingpins

Kingpins at 10: curated denim selection

By: Caitlin Kelly
NEW YORK—It’s not the typical trade show—small, invitation-only, chill music, with funky wooden tables and benches and neon-colored velvet ottomans for the booths. Not to mention lots of great food and drink, including trays of tea sandwiches offered by a roving waiter at day’s end.

Andrew Olah, the founder and organizer of Kingpins, a show devoted to all things denim, celebrated the event’s 10th anniversary this year. A low-key Canadian originally from Toronto, Olah prides himself on creating a welcoming place where industry veterans can meet, work and play.

“We have the best party,” he said—given that Première Vision New York and Texworld USA were also being held in New York the same week. “This seems to be one of our best shows ever. It’s very well thought of.” With only 65 exhibitors, Olah curates an atmosphere conducive to productive business.

“We don’t want networkers or competitors. We really don’t want those people,” he said. “We only invite academia, media, exhibitors and buyers. It’s not a social function.”
“This is the only show we do,” said Kent Pellegrini, a partner in Walnut Creek, Calif.–based Nexgen Packaging, which makes labels and hangtags for Ralph Lauren, G.H. Bass, Allsaints and many others. (Kingpins does two shows a year in LA, two in New York, two in Hong Kong, two in Amsterdam and one in Shanghai.)

Designers want to message authenticity in every detail, said Debbie Bougas of Nexgen.

“The environmental story is still strong when it comes to packaging. There’s a new freshness to vintage, but there needs to be a legitimate backstory to it.” She pointed to San Francisco–based jeans maker Tellason, an 8-year-old firm trading heavily on the heritage of its building, the city and its product. “They’re one of the best when it comes to authenticity.”

Designers are also hyper-fussy when it comes to these smallest of final details, Pellegrini says. “Jay-Z will even sign off on the tag. It’s a passionate business.”

The current challenge for designers and producers such as Nexgen is integrating RFID (radio frequency identification) technology with great tag and label design, Pellegrini added. “It’s coming and we’re doing it, but what’s the best way to use it without distracting the consumer?”

Kara Nichols, vice president of product development and marketing for 118-year-old Cone Denim, said the big story is sustainability. The firm recently introduced ConeTouch, a denim made by Unifi Inc. from recycled bottles—each pair of jeans made using the fabric contains an average of eight recycled bottles. The fabric uses Repreve, a stretch yarn also made from recycled plastic bottles.
And the company’s new yarn pretreatment process, VaraBlue, also reduces water and energy use, along with reductions in effluents released into the environment. The dyes are applied to the garment after it’s sewn, allowing the development of any color with very small minimums.

“It’s very different from traditional dye. The color doesn’t penetrate to the same depth, so it gives a more weathered look,” she explained. “We’re offering color in a very different way than customers have in their closet already. We’ve been getting a very good reaction from our customers, and we’ve gotten a lot of sample orders.”

Kaltex, the largest denim manufacturer in the Western Hemisphere, offered laser-printed denim as one of its newest fabrics. For men, “comfort stretch is very important,” said Roberto Rosenberg. For men and women, “black is going to be important, as are rip and repair concepts and high contrast.” They are now also using laser printing. Instead of having whiskers applied manually using sandpaper, the company’s 11 $350,000 Spanish-made machines will create similar effects more quickly and less expensively.

After 50 years in the pocket business, buyers are still opting—75 percent of them—for plain white fabric, said Barry Emanuel, president of Copen United Ltd. But a new stretch fabric will make for smoother lines and better flexibility when used for the pockets in stretch jeans. “Every important company is doing it or thinking of doing it,” he said.

Although most people would never be able to find his company’s San Marino headquarters on a map, Alberto De Conti, managing director of The Italian Job, works to help designers create new looks with denim. In concert with Garmon, he helps brands such as Levi’s, Diesel, Hugo Boss and G-STAR stay ahead of the style curve. “We look for the latest advancements in chemistry and apply them to fashion,” he said.

A recent example is FST RW, which can be sprayed onto fabric to retain the original color and appearance of raw denim. After washing, the unsprayed areas fade out. “This is a bit of a revolution. It resists washing, but it also allows for abrasion to happen. This is something we expect to see in the market in a few years. The purists are especially interested in this.”

Resins with no formaldehyde (some of them originally used in the food industry), and a new dyeing technique called Surf, are other examples of latest chemical innovations. Surface dyeing effects can be created in any color and are most popular with fashion-forward European brands. “We’ve had a really, really good reaction,” De Conti said.

At Denimatrix, 25-year industry veteran Ralph Tharpe, who works in product development, said that Repreve is helping to solve “a problem we’ve been fighting in the denim world”—that stretch fabrics stretch out but don’t stretch as well back into shape.

Another ongoing challenge is the shrinking of denim production to only four American mills, two in North Carolina, one in South Carolina and one in Texas. “It’s hard for a U.S. mill to compete,” he said. “The only way to survive is to go upscale because the Mexican, Pakistani and Chinese mills are going upscale every day. Our industry has been capital starved because all the work has moved offshore.”

Chris Price of Bluefarm Textiles, makers of shirting and blends from Taiwan and China, showed a thick sweater knitted using herringbone indigo yarns. It prompted an “amazing reaction” from buyers, he said. “Beautiful indigo knits are hard to find.” His firm is focused on “the evolution of indigo out of traditional use into dobbies and lighter-weight fabrics like silk, Modal and cashmere.” One of his samples was a super-lightweight 2-ounce cotton used for shirting.

“Indigo is moving from bottoms to tops,” he said. He also showed textiles using space dye, on which the weft yarn is unevenly dyed. “Space dyes and jaspé have been big for us.”

“It was a really, really good show,” he said.

Nexgen Packaging relocates to Romeoville

Nexgen Packaging relocates to Romeoville, Illinois

New Nexgen US Headquarters & expanded HK Service Bureau provide State-of-the-Art Global Ticketing & Service Bureau operations.
ROMEOVILLE, Ill., Sept. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Nexgen Packaging, LLC today announced the opening of its new US headquarters in Romeoville, Illinois. A global provider of apparel brand identification and packaging products, Nexgen Packaging had been headquartered in Southern California for the past 7 years. The move to its new Romeoville location will provide the company’s rapidly growing US Service Bureau operations with a state of the art manufacturing location.

“As our company continues its global expansion, it is critical that we support our clients with excellent service, speed and innovation. In addition to our new US headquarters, we are opening a new expanded state-of-the-art service bureau production facility in Hong Kong on October 1st. Both facilities will provide traditional barcode tickets and tags, as well as RFID tickets and tags,” according to Andy Effron, Managing Partner of Nexgen.

“We are extremely pleased with the vast array of opportunities to leverage Sato’s recent strategic investment in Nexgen Packaging. We will continue to build upon this foundation with key expansion of our printing locations around the globe. We have just opened Nexgen Guatemala, and in 2014 our plans include the addition of Service Bureau operations in the United Kingdom, Vietnam & South China.”

About Nexgen Packaging

Nexgen Packaging, LLC is a global provider of apparel brand identification and packaging products, servicing the creative, product development, and production needs of apparel manufacturers and retailers, and their global manufacturing partners. Nexgen is focused on simplifying everything from the creative process to order execution, utilizing innovative technologies to increase efficiency and enhance customer service. Nexgen offers a comprehensive range of products and services designed to meet its customers’ product identification needs, including: woven labels, printed labels, heat transfers, hang tags, integrated tags, price tickets, wrap bands, patches, boxes, poly bags and a broad range of specialized products. Our customers include a broad range of Apparel Brands and Retailers.

Nexgen has operations in the US, UK, Hong Kong and major apparel producing countries globally. More information about Nexgen can be found at www.nexgenpkg.com.

SATO Announces Strategic Investment in Nexgen Packaging

SATO Announces Strategic Investment in Nexgen Packaging

SATO, a leader in barcode printing, labeling, and EPC/RFID solutions, announced today its strategic investment in Nexgen Packaging, a global provider of apparel brand identification and packaging products.

Founded in 2006, Nexgen Packaging, a privately held company, is a leading provider of brand identification products to both apparel manufacturers and retailers for their private label programs. Nexgen focuses its efforts on the design, marketing, manufacturing and distribution of woven and printed labels, heat transfers, graphic tags, price tickets & item level RFID labels and tags.

“We have seen healthy growth in our RFID business and Nexgen’s brand identification relationships & item level RFID experience are highly complementary to our own product strategy & growth initiatives” stated Kaz Matsuyama, President & CEO of SATO Holdings Corporation. “The investment in Nexgen Packaging exemplifies our mission to grow internationally and complements the business models of both Nexgen and SATO alike.”

Nexgen will continue to operate as an independent entity, and the current Nexgen management team will remain in place. Going forward, SATO and Nexgen will leverage strategic benefits from each other, such as mutual RFID development and deployment, as well as leveraging SATO’s global footprint. As mentioned, both companies plan to operate independently with a “strategically complementary relationship” to ensure that both companies take full advantage of their strengths.

“Few companies have the depth of experience and focus on innovation in variable data printing and RFID-encoding as SATO has” said Andy Effron, Managing Partner of Nexgen. “Our new relationship with SATO strengthens Nexgen in the expansion of global operations and delivery of industry-leading innovation to better serve our customers. We are very excited about this partnership, and look forward to working closely with the SATO global team.”

About SATO

SATO is a pioneer and leading global provider of integrated Automatic Identification and Data Collection solutions that leverage barcode and RFID technologies. SATO manufactures innovative, reliable auto-identification systems and offers complete solutions to businesses by integrating hardware, software, media supplies and maintenance services. SATO’s solutions enable businesses to realise precision, labour and resource savings that help preserve the environment and deliver peace of mind to consumers. All of which contribute to the development of a sustainable world.

Founded in 1940, SATO is publicly listed on the first section of Tokyo Stock Exchange in Japan. It has sales and support offices in over 20 countries and is represented globally through a world-class network of partners. For the fiscal year ended March 31, 2013, it reported revenues of JPY 87,256 million (US$ 1.0524 billion). More information about SATO can be found at www.satoworldwide.com

*Conversion is based on an average exchange rate of 1 US Dollar = 82.91 Japanese Yen.

About Nexgen

The new office in Hong Kong follows Nexgen’s announcement in 2013, of a new US Corporate office & Service Bureau which opened in Romeoville, IL & Guatemala City, Guatemala and Reading, UK.

Nexgen Packaging, LLC is a global provider of apparel brand identification and packaging products, servicing the creative, product development, and production needs of apparel manufacturers and retailers, and their global manufacturing partners. Nexgen is focused on simplifying everything from the creative process to order execution, utilizing innovative technologies to increase efficiency and enhance customer service. Nexgen offers a comprehensive range of products and services designed to meet its customers’ product identification needs, including: woven labels, printed labels, heat transfers, hang tags, integrated tags, price tickets, wrap bands, patches, boxes, poly bags and a broad range of specialized products. Our customers include a broad range of Apparel Brands and Retailers.

Nexgen has operations in the US, UK, Hong Kong and major apparel producing countries globally.

ECO Focus

Apparel news: eco focus

Any trip to Affliction Clothing’s Seal Beach, Calif., headquarters will be action-packed. Martial-arts fighters spar in a company gym. Artist John Moss customizes motorcycles in a company workshop at the 70,000-square-foot compound. But the biggest flurry of activity for the lifestyle brand in 2011 will be found on the concrete of retail streets.
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