Blog: Leonie BarrieClosed loop challenges

Leonie Barrie | 18 February 2013

Sportswear firm Puma last week became the latest company to launch a "closed-loop" collection of footwear, apparel and accessories, all of which are either entirely biodegradable or recyclable. The InCycle line has earned the brand its first 'Cradle to Cradle' certification.

The concept of closed loop - the process of recycling a garment so that it can be used again by returning it to fibre form and spinning this back into fabric - is gaining momentum with retailers and brands. But putting it into practice still presents a lot of challenges, industry experts tell just-style.

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. China's share of the total rose to 47.4% - giving the country a lead of more than seven times the volume of imports from its closest rival India.

But conventional supply chain definitions that divide apparel into "imported" or "made in the US" are usually outdated and inaccurate, according to a new report. The research, "Analyzing the Value Chain for Apparel Designed in the United States and Manufactured Overseas", found that US input adds more than 70% in value terms for 20 garments studied.

Meanwhile, textile and clothing industry groups on both sides of the Atlantic have welcomed news that the EU and US are to begin talks on the biggest bilateral trade deal ever negotiated. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will aim to go beyond the classic format of removing tariffs and opening markets, a joint statement said.

But the latest retail sales from both the US and UK show consumers continue to be cautious in their spending, with only slight gains seen in January.


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