Apparel industry hot issues
just-style's highly-regarded staff of columnists have been selected to deliver the very best in apparel and textile industry opinion across a broad spectrum of disciplines from emerging markets and the environment to forecasts and finance.
International fashion brands and retailers are being urged to help build a more resilient cotton supply chain in China if they want to secure supplies of the raw material for the future. But can they really make a difference, and why should they care?
New eco-friendly fibre and fabric concepts that not only offer more sustainable choices for sportswear and outdoor apparel, but in many cases give improved functionality too, were on show at this month’s ISPO Münich trade fair. The natural performance of wool, plant-based laminates, ultra lightweight insulation and advanced temperature regulation were among the highlights.
An increasing amount of hype in recent years has focused on the business of reshoring, including two separate reports in the last week alone. Yet, while industry observers are keen to highlight the opportunities offered by a return of apparel manufacturing to the UK, it seems reshoring is far from a done deal.
As the threat of a US West Coast port shutdown looms, analysts already estimate the ongoing disruption could add an eye-watering US$36.9bn to costs over the next 24 months. As the congestion continues to cause headwinds for apparel businesses, retailers are being told they must investigate new supply chain options, including more near- and on-shoring.
There is growing pressure from activists and governments to make Western laws apply to alleged non-compliance in developing country garment factories. But the most likely outcome is that countries will be blacklisted with no effort to improve standards.
US apparel retailers got off to a good start in January, with the majority posting comparable store sales gains, helped by post holiday clearance sales and stronger comparisons with last year, when severe weather hampered results.
Despite continued disruption at US West Coast ports, apparel imports into the country bounced back in December, with Bangladesh seeing its first rise since January last year. Four of the top-ten supplier countries saw strong double-digit growth, including Bangladesh, with China and Vietnam remaining top of the table.
Transparency among apparel brands and retailers appears to be mixed when it comes to sourcing cotton from Uzbekistan. New research has revealed that while a number of companies have made improvements to address the issue of forced labour within the sector, many are reluctant to disclose the policies they are implementing or detail information about their suppliers.
As new outdoor performance apparel brands enter the market in record numbers, retailers are introducing new innovations and technologies to stand out from the crowd and win over consumers.
Ten days into her new role as American Apparel CEO, industry veteran Paula Schneider sounded a confident note as she told investors and analysts this week that she is ready to build on the solid foundations of the business.
Myanmar's garment sector is in the midst of significant growth and exciting changes - and a brand new and exclusive report produced by the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA) offers essential reading for retailers, brands and importers looking to source from the country.
For our annual briefing on apparel industry issues to watch in the year ahead, just-style has again asked leading executives for their feedback on the challenges and opportunities likely to emerge in 2015. Expect a continuing focus on compliance and factory safety, ongoing challenges in omni-channel and the need for new supply chain solutions - and much more besides.
With most holiday merchandise brought into the US early as retailers rushed to beat a possible shutdown of West Coast ports, it is perhaps not surprising that apparel imports fell in November. But with shipments plunging from eight of the top-ten suppliers, Vietnam alone was the stand-out performer during the month.
Deep discounts, lower fuel prices and an improved employment market all helped to drive better-than-expected comparable store sales gains for apparel retailers in the crucial month of December.
Two industry groups have welcomed federal mediation intervention to try to help resolve the ongoing labour dispute at 29 West Coast ports ahead of the import peak for spring season clothing and shoes.
Instead of our regular roundup of the most-read stories on just-style during the week, we thought a fitting end to the year would be to take a look at the top news stories, analysis pieces, comment articles and interviews on just-style in 2014.
The Bangladesh ready-made garment industry has set out an ambitious goal to double its exports to $50bn over the next seven years as it works to rebuild its reputation in the wake of recent tragedies.
As retailers made one last push to stock up on holiday merchandise amid fears of possible disruption due to the ongoing dockworkers dispute at major West Coast container ports, US apparel imports continued to grow in October. Vietnam was undoubtedly the biggest beneficiary, while Bangladesh tumbled for the eighth month in a row.
US teen apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries this week stepped down after more than two decades at the helm. Although analysts believe a change of leadership could be positive for the group, there is no denying the new CEO faces a steep mountain to climb.
Early holiday promotions, the continued growth of online shopping, and an improving economy appear to be changing the way US consumers approach what has traditionally been the biggest shopping weekend of the year.
With imports supplying most US consumer demand for textiles and apparel, and footwear, it is perhaps not surprising the US trade deficit in both sectors rose last year. just-style takes a look at both sectors.
Decidedly at odds with fast fashion, the slow fashion movement offers an alternative to mass-produced clothing and is steadily gaining momentum. But while some believe more work is required if the message is to really take off, others see it as an ideal opportunity for middle market players.
Driving meaningful change towards sustainability in textiles within organisations, within the industry, and with consumers topped the agenda at last week's Textile Exchange Conference.
The Uzbekistan government has continued to use "systematic, mass forced labour" in this year's cotton harvest, campaigners say, claiming more adults had to work against their will to make up for a reduction in the number of children in the fields.
Using more sustainable alternatives to traditional fibres is key to helping clothing brands reduce their environmental footprint - and is set to be the default option in future. This month’s management briefing explores new eco-friendly feedstocks, tools to help sustainability decisions, and the continuing uncertainty over cotton prices.
UK retail group Marks & Spencer this week said women's wear was the bright spot in its clothing division in the first half as unseasonal weather weighed on the unit's overall performance. Speaking at its earnings conference, CEO Marc Bolland said he was confident women's wear was now moving in the right direction, with sales up 1.3%.
Apparel brands have been urged to remain committed to Cambodia after a 28% rise in the minimum monthly wage was agreed for textile, garment and footwear workers - with salaries to increase from the beginning of next year.
US department store retailer Kohl's Corporation last week held its first investor day for seven years, setting out detailed plans for future growth. Building on an agenda announced earlier this year, analysts say the new initiatives are necessary and overdue.
Insight on embracing change from Google UK, as well as tackling the "massive problem" of online returns, the emergence of 3D printing as a worrying new front for counterfeiters, managing sourcing risk, and mobile phone monitoring were all discussed at a recent industry conference.
Troubled UK retail behemoth Tesco has posted a 92% decline in first-half profits, weighed down by its higher-than-expected accounting error. While many analysts believe Tesco can now draw a line under its darkest days, views are mixed on how fast a turnaround, if any, is likely for the business.
- Low labour cost countries linked to highest risks
- Why should brands care about China cotton?
- China cotton: implications and opportunities
- COMMENT: Skills or new technology?
- UK reshoring hub hit by sweatshop claims
- South Africa to grow grass for recyclable textiles
- Activewear driving US apparel spend
- 30% of Adidas cotton from sustainable sources
- Benetton to embark on living wage roadmap
- Sri Lanka and Bangladesh FTA talks underway
- Myanmar's Garment Sector - Opportunities & Challenges in 2015
- Outdoor performance apparel: peaks, valleys, and green fields
- Global market review of swimwear - forecasts to 2019
- Management briefing: Outlook 2015: Apparel industry issues in the year ahead
- Apparel Retail: Top 5 Emerging Markets Industry Guide