Blog: Leonie BarrieOutdoor gear could be harmful

Leonie Barrie | 1 February 2016

Outdoor brands are being urged to eliminate all PFCs from their products and supply chains after the hazardous chemicals were discovered in clothing, footwear and outdoor equipment.

Tests by environmental activist group Greenpeace on 40 products from companies including The North Face, Patagonia and Mammut found PFCs in high concentrations in 18 items. In response, Haglöfs has withdrawn a line of boots from sale, while other brands have updated their own progress on reducing PFCs in outdoor clothing and footwear.

US apparel giant Gap Inc has also set out new targets aimed at strengthening worker rights across its global supply chain. Among its goals, it wants all of its strategic branded apparel suppliers to achieve a sustainability rating of green or yellow by 2020, and to see all self-reporting their performance in the Gap global sustainability data system within the next two years.

Meanwhile, Myanmar's garment sector is targeting a 300% increase in exports to the European Union by the end of 2019 thanks to a EUR2.8m (US$3m) funding boost as the second phase of the SMART Myanmar project gets underway.

And executives in Colombia believe the country needs a free-trade deal with Brazil, to fix a US cumulation dispute, and boost financing for export-hungry enterprises, if it is to bolster textile and apparel companies' efforts to expand abroad.

Leading Sri Lankan garment manufacturer Hirdaramani Group has opened a new state-of-the-art apparel factory in the north-east of the country, providing key jobs and opportunities in the district most adversely affected by the country's 25-year long civil war.

And Vietnam is singled out as one of the most promising markets moving forward, due to its well-established manufacturing infrastructure and forecasts for the highest compound annual growth rate within the Asia Pacific region over the next four years.

The outlook comes as a new report shows cotton spinning in Vietnam has tripled over the last four years thanks to rising yarn exports to China.

Predictions likely to shape the US clothing and footwear sector this year include a more promotional athleisure scene, the benefits of store rationalisation starting to emerge, and a continuing decline in in-store traffic, analysts say.

For performance wear specialist Under Armour, the fourth-quarter saw its best growth of the year as earnings soared and net revenues in apparel, its largest product category, surged 22%.

And struggling surfwear business Quiksilver has had its reorganisation plan approved and expects to emerge from bankruptcy in early February – with Oaktree Capital as its majority owner.

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