Portrait of Matt Leffler
People Spotlight
Sustainability has seen tremendous progress in the apparel and footwear industry.

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Matt Leffler

Commercial Director, West (Oregon)

What inspires me:
My family inspires me on a daily basis: Their curiosity, watching them grow, and how they discover things. Also, athletes who have overcome physical hardships inspire me.

How I inspire my team:
I emphasize balance, trying to remind them to keep the perspective on what we’re trying to accomplish–there’s no need to internalize our pressures. It’s not always easy, though.

Biggest challenge facing apparel and footwear manufacturing today:
There’s a stronger push for getting items to market faster from customers, and there is a lot of change that is being driven by the consumer. The voice of the consumer is louder than it’s ever been, and they want customized products. So, we’re going to see changes in where and how things are manufactured, and how flexibly they’re manufactured.

The biggest innovations in the apparel and footwear industry:
There has been a renewed focus on what goes into the footwear upper (support, cushioning). Also, footwear is moving away from leathers and synthetic leathers, and focusing more on textiles. There has been impressive advancement in the area of material and textiles in footwear, particularly when it comes to sustainability, which really resonates with consumers. Apparel has been driving a lot of innovation in seamless products, responding to air and/or moisture issues. Digital and wearable tech is also starting to make a play for integration, for both apparel and footwear.

Manufacturing and sustainability:
Sustainability has seen tremendous progress in the apparel and footwear industry. Nobody is where they want to be long term in this regard, ourselves included, but we have similar goals to get to a point of compliance over the next five years to be more sustainable. The minute you think you’re sustainable, you have to think if your goals are ambitious enough. The only thing dictating pace is how quickly the whole supply chain can change to make that new target or goal.

Where I see apparel manufacturing in the next 3 – 5 years:
There must be a level of automation in manufacturing. It will help create more value in a product, specifically when it comes to speed and customization. The ability to affect a design in a way that is more personalized is where things are headed. 3D design tools that consumers can access, for example, affect this process.

Best career advice I’ve received:
It relates to empowerment: Some people who helped me early in my career at Avery Dennison taught me, this is your business to manage. The spirit of entrepreneurship is encouraged and pushed here. The support I’ve received at Avery Dennison is a big part of my success here.

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