just-style authors and correspondents
Articles by MJ Deschamps
From toxic T-shirts to virtual fitting rooms, defamatory garments and compostable shoes, the clothing and textiles industry in 2012 was anything but dull.
Textile-making countries came up against a range of labour, economic and environmental issues in 2012, including the worsening Eurozone crisis which dampened demand in key export markets. While some struggled to cope, others became increasingly competitive as exports rose.
Weak consumer spending, difficulties in securing credit, competition from China and the Far East resulted in factory closures and subsequent layoffs in 2012. But ramping up labour and sustainability standards, eco-friendly production technologies, cost cutting and efficiency improvements saved others from significant losses.
Faced with continuing challenging trading conditions in 2012, retailers responded with a number of different strategies to try to grow their businesses. International expansion, new and larger format stores, revamped product lines and sustainability initiatives were the chosen route for some, while others were forced to lay off workers to cut costs.
Despite the challenging global economic climate, demand in the luxury sector continues to remain unscathed, with high-end apparel consumers not willing to compromise on quality.
Clothing labels worldwide are usually a standard read, with fibre names such as 'cotton,' 'nylon' and 'polyester' remaining constant from season to season. But when it comes to luxury textiles, there seem to be more evolving trends in terms of fibres used - along with more dynamic changes in supply and demand.
Outsourcing textile and apparel production is a necessary step along the supply chain for many large international brands which, more often than not, have long-standing relationships with manufacturers abroad.
Major clothing retailers are benefiting in significant ways from the new data collection and management options offered by new technology in labels, especially regarding radio frequency identification (RFID) tags.
Global manufacturing and supply chains are shifting and changing in response to fast fashion's demand for up-to-the-minute styles and trends at relatively low prices.
While cities such as Milan, Paris, New York and London have historically been seen as the global 'fashion hubs' - acting as meeting spots for high-end designers, fashion shows, luxury retail outlets and fashionistas - the rise of fast fashion has also made cutting-edge trends more accessible to the rest of the world.
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