Blog: Leonie BarrieCottoning on to water shortages

Leonie Barrie | 1 September 2014

To coincide with World Water Week, which kicked off in Stockholm yesterday, the need for better use of increasingly limited water resources has turned the spotlight on the global cotton industry - one of the largest and thirstiest crops produced.

With the world likely to face a 40% global shortfall between forecast demand and available supply of water in the next 15 years, the apparel supply chain is being urged to do more to curb cotton's huge water footprint.

As part of its efforts to help suppliers make smarter choices about the chemicals used in its products, sporting goods giant Adidas Group is setting out targets to switch to using only Bluesign approved chemicals in its supply chain.

Decisions on where to focus supply chains involve a complicated mix of wages, productivity, energy costs, currency values and other factors - all of which are quietly but dramatically redrawing the map of global manufacturing cost competitiveness, according to new research. While the comments are general rather than industry-specific, the findings suggest China is no longer much cheaper than the US.

But Cambodia's competitiveness as a clothing and footwear supplier is being eroded by a spate of strikes, while mass worker faintings in garment factories have soared despite preventive measures, according to figures provided to just-style.

Global sourcing giant Li & Fung has outlined a number of new frontiers it is looking to explore as it works through its three-year roadmap, which it hopes will capture new customers in new categories and countries, and increase the group's cross-selling activities.

While the recently spun-off Global Brands business has outlined its strategy as it heads into the second half, with a focus that will include more licensing deals and fewer acquisitions.

And apparel giant Gap Inc has hailed progress on its supply chain fabric platforming  initiative, as it shifts its relationships from vendor-based to mill-based in a bid to build a more responsive supply chain.

Any talk of Gap Inc's portfolio invariably focuses on its Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy brands. But new number crunching suggests the company's Athleta women's athletic wear line is also gaining momentum, and has the potential to reach $1.1bn in sales over the next five years.

Hot on the heels of expanding its Dockers brand license agreement with Levi Strauss & Co for the third time in four months, Hampshire Group CEO Paul Buxbaum is optimistic the company turnaround is starting to take hold. He tells just-style about new opportunities and on-going efforts to leverage the firm's supply chain.

And as the second biggest shopping season of the year draws to a close, it appears many consumers have yet to wrap up their back-to-school spending - with shoppers holding out for the best promotions and bargains.

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