Where can you feel like you’ve visited Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, any Hard Rock Café or Planet Hollywood, and purchased a lasting souvenir, all without the travel, expense and aching feet? One place to start would be with a visit to Fortune Fashions Industries.
The Vernon, Calif.-based company is one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of custom-embellished sportswear for the entertainment industry and retail stores. The company produces a wide variety of t-shirts, sweatshirts and headwear decorated with symbols from some of the nation’s most famous theme parks, restaurants, hotels and cruise lines.
Currently the company’s customer base includes both themed industries and retail stores such as J.C. Penney, Target, Kohl’s and K-Mart. “Up until about two years ago, we sold exclusively to the theme industry,” says Executive Vice President Lee Rosenblatt. “But we got to the point where we reached maturity in that market, so we gradually expanded to include retail stores.”
Fortune doubled its sales from its first to second year of selling to retailers, and hopes to double again between this year and next.
In preparation for the expansion to retail sales, about four years ago Fortune moved from the 50,000-square-foot facility it had inhabited since its inception in 1991, to a state-of-the-art 430,000-square-foot building which had to be gutted and rebuilt. “It took about 18 months from the time of purchase to the time we moved in, but the new building was a real milestone for us,” Rosenblatt recalls. “When we first took it over, we gutted it. By the time we were done, just about all that was left standing was the four walls.”
Fortune obtained a “wish list” from all of its departments as to what the desires were for the new building. Then it set about building offices, a showroom, and a manufacturing facility including a great deal of new machinery. Rosenblatt points to several advantages of having all of the company’s operations under one roof. For one thing, he notes, with all personnel being in the same place, “there can be meetings between designers, artists and salespeople on a daily basis, if necessary. This can bring an order to life much faster than if each department was housed separately, as is the case with other companies.” In addition, Rosenblatt explains, Fortune has a full complement of testing labs in the facility, allowing all testing to be done in-house so that garments can be tested before delivery. “There are many tests that need to be run on clothing so that it meets with our customers’ requirements,” Rosenblatt says. “Right in our plant, we can test for color fastness, how well the product will hold up regarding shrinkage, color accuracy, color retention, how well the ink holds up. We can do all of that here, before we roll out the product.”
Fortune uses state-of-the-art spectrophotometer readings to ensure accurate and objective evaluation of color and color variances (as well as general appearance). It has the latest in test equipment to conduct performance testing in-house using AATCC and ASTM test methods and standards.
Fortune also tests all the fabric received for its growing cut-and-sew departments. “We’ve sent back about 20 percent of fabric for various problems, but we can test it here so that we never sell an inferior product to a customer,” Rosenblatt says.
Responding to the customers’ needs, and to what customers see as trends in the industry, is something that Rosenblatt says Fortune does very well. “Right now, the trends are in specialty inks,” he notes. These include crystallina, shimmer, scratch and sniff, metallic, sand, thick film, clear gel, glow-in-the-dark, puff and reflective inks. Another trend involves particle printing, in which the ink contains particles such as crystal or caviar beads. Other popular embellishments include embossing, foils, rhinestones, sequins and nail heads. Fortune uses the most current technology to adhere these embellishments, as well as appliqué, printed vinyl welds, flock welds, printed flock, and encapsulated welds, along with lenticular and water/liquid pockets.
Fortune boasts high-tech equipment for providing these embellishments, as well as four-color process, simulated process and index color printing for vinyl welds and other special embellishments. Its production staff includes 20 creative artists and 10 production artists with a combined total of over 200 years of experience. Embroidery is yet another area in which Rosenblatt feels that Fortune shines. The company boasts 21 production machines, four sample machines and production capabilities for finished caps with emblems, standard embroidery, and three-dimensional embroidery. “We also embroider finished garments and panel programs,” he says. Fortune’s embroidery staff puts out 15,000 units of embroidery per day, with a total daily stitch count of 150 million. It also produces 20,000 units of high frequency welding and heat seal applications per day.
Finally, Rosenblatt points to Fortune’s packaging capabilities. The company has the ability to ship floor-ready merchandise to conform to a customer’s retail presentation standards and distribution flow, it offers customized brand labeling and special packaging, ticketing, bar coding size stickers and hang tags and is configured for all EDI mapping and communication. Fortune utilizes 10 automatic folding and bagging machines that are capable of folding a wide range of sizes, along with ticketing machines, tagging machines and a scan and pack system that accepts industry standard purchase order file formats, validates merchandise count and accuracy and transmits electronic ASM. Finally, garments can be put on hangers before leaving the factory.
More growth coming
The company is looking toward more growth in the not-too-distant future, with the addition of four new automatic screen-printing machines. “With those new machines, we will be able to increase our screen print capacity by about 25 percent from our present capacity of 125,000 prints a day,” Rosenblatt says. “The new machines will be up and running in October.”
However, he adds that Fortune will be careful with the way it grows. “We want to be prudent with our growth,” he says. “The customers we take on need to be meaningful. Not to sound haughty, but we need larger accounts so we can properly invest in our design and art capabilities to bring their product to life.”
Rosenblatt notes that there are three main things that set Fortune apart from its competitors, and will carry it into the future.
“We’re innovative, particularly in the areas of art and creativity. We’re a quality operation, in that we have outstanding people and products, and our service is such that we can immediately respond to the changing needs of the customer and the industry,” he concludes.