January/February 2012 management briefing: Apparel industry issues to watch in 2012
For this year's annual management briefing on apparel industry issues to watch in the year ahead, just-style asked leading executives for their feedback on the challenges and opportunities likely to emerge in 2012. Their insight provides a fascinating overview of the state of the sector today.
Uncertainty is perhaps the biggest challenge facing the apparel industry in 2012. The economic situation in Europe and the US, swings in commodity prices, labour shortages and rising costs, especially in China, all add up to a worrying year.
Generally, 2012 is seen as being another challenging business year for the apparel industry. Uncertainties include the performance of the global economy, the European debt crisis, US consumer sentiment, and producer price inflation. Being able to react quickly to sourcing challenges, get more efficient in production, and reduce cycle times will help firms react to these volatile markets.
What should apparel firms have learnt from the upheaval of the past couple of years - and what should they be doing now if they want to remain competitive into the future? Buyers and manufacturers need to build a deeper, long-term relationship our respondents said, as well as focusing on a sourcing portfolio that balances costs and risks.
Opportunities the apparel industry can look forward to this year include speed to market, which favours sourcing in the western hemisphere; growth in the number and spending power of middle-lass consumers in emerging markets like China and India; and the use of technology and the internet to make sourcing a truly global activity.
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