By: Leonie Barrie
just-style editor Leonie Barrie shares her thoughts on some of the top stories in the news.
An annual update of US apparel industry trends might use data that is more than a year old, but it offers an interesting snapshot of the state of play in the US textile and apparel trade, from domestic production trends to import costs.
Having spent the past two years building up massive cotton stockpiles that now account for an estimated half of the world's supply, the Chinese government is selling off some of its reserves.
Efforts to increase supply chain transparency should include closer collaboration and partnerships with suppliers, an industry event has heard.
The falling value of the Indian rupee is proving to be something of a mixed bag for the country's clothing industry.
In its constant search for cheaper and cheaper production bases around the world, there are few places the apparel and textile industry has left untouched. But still the search goes on. From Africa to the Americas, Burma to Bangladesh, there seems to be a never-ending debate as to the next sourcing hotspot.
The US decision last month to suspend trade benefits for Bangladesh was a symbolic gesture intended to emphasise its frustrations over factory safety in the country's garment sector. But could the European Union's repeated threats to cut access to its own GSP system prove more of a wake-up call?
Is Bangladesh is a place where workers are safe to make clothes sold by Western retailers and brands - and is the lure of low costs a risk worth taking? Last week's collapse of the eight-storey Rana Plaza factory complex has brought these concerns to the fore all over again.
Ron Johnson, the man hired just 18 months ago to transform US retailer JC Penney, has been unceremoniously ousted after his radical revamp plans failed to gain traction.
Since 2009, active wear brand Lululemon Athletica has seen profits soar, regularly increasing its guidance after better than expected performances. But, is the recall of its black Luon pants a sign that the brand is growing too quickly?
For all the talk about declining Chinese competitiveness and the likely growth in near-sourcing, official figures show China continued to dominate US apparel and textile imports last year.
Since when did garment making become a matter of life and death? And why, despite the huge amounts of time, effort and resources that have gone into corporate social responsibility, factory inspections and audits, do poorly paid workers continue to toil in dangerous conditions supplying clothing to Western brands and retailers?
It is almost two years to the day since 29 people perished in a fire at a garment factory in Bangladesh - and it would appear that little has been done in the intervening period to tackle the industry's safety issues.
The heads of two US trade groups representing apparel and footwear retailers, brands and importers have warned of a slowdown in consumer spending unless lawmakers can reach an agreement to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" which is looming at the end of the year.
Moves last week by the Indian government to open the country's multi-brand retail sector to foreign investment have been hailed as everything from a "historic decision" to a "big bang" reform. But observers also warn it is still far from certain that they will go ahead.
Like a vast, slow-moving and rather unwieldy tanker, battered and lashed by stormy seas, the UK's largest clothing retailer Marks & Spencer has done much over the past decade to try to steady its business.
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- Ethiopia – the emerging textile and clothing industry
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- Trade and trade policy: clothing imports, consumer expenditure and trends in five emerging markets: Brazil, Colombia, India, Kazakhstan and Peru, 4th quarter 2013
- Sustainable Textiles for Apparel: Fact, Fiction and Future Prospects