Blog: Leonie BarriePreparing for the big ideas coming down the pipe

Leonie Barrie | 31 October 2016

There has been a lot of noise this year about disruption and innovation in high performance apparel – but a quieter revolution is also underway at PVH, the US's second largest importer of apparel and owner of brands such as Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Izod and Speedo.

The apparel giant’s new Innovation Next department is dedicated to preparing for the big ideas coming at the industry, including connected apparel and implications for the supply chain. just-style has taken a closer look.

Edwin Keh, CEO at the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA), also believes apparel retailers and brands must change their current business models and supply chains if they want to remain competitive into the future.

Instead of obsessing with FOB, he says companies should be asking: "What should we be making? How should we make them? Where do we make them? And who is going to make them for us?"

With the road to implementing new technology often a daunting prospect – be it 3D design and virtual prototyping tools or product lifecycle management software – some of the tips for managing the process include clear communication, honest expectations, and good old-fashioned patience.

A helpline set up to monitor conditions in Bangladesh's garment factories by encouraging workers to report abuses using their mobile phones has received a total of 92,416 calls since its launch two years ago. But while the initiative is giving retailers and brands more insight into what's really going on in their supply chains, technology alone is not the solution.

Syrian refugee children as young as ten years old have been found working in garment factories in Turkey making clothes for brands including Marks & Spencer and Asos, a British television documentary claims.

While a separate report says child labour, poor wages and dangerous conditions are among the risks facing unregistered Syrian refugees working in Turkish clothing factories supplying European retailers.

And the United States has now joined governments in the UK, Australia, Canada to advise against all non-essential travel to Ethiopia due to ongoing unrest the country.

Leaders of Pakistan's clothing and textile industry have told just-style they are concerned about the sector's declining exports, and its failure to properly exploit the improved market access to the European Union (EU). They want the federal government to intervene to help reverse this trend.

Hong Kong headquartered athletic wear supplier Winds Group is opening a new activewear factory in northwest Haiti, initially making 12m tops and bottoms for a range of mid-market US brands.

And Chinese garment manufacturer Suzhou Tianyuan Garments, which produces for brands including Adidas and Reebok, is to set up a new US$20m factory in North America.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong fashion firm Esprit is increasing transparency in a bid to maintain better control of its supply chain through improved communication with its tier two suppliers and cotton farms.

And just-style continues to round up the third-quarter filings from US apparel and footwear brands and retailers.

In other news, Primark’s group sourcing director Garry Gordon has resigned; American Apparel could be heading for its second bankruptcy filing in as many years; and a new software tool has been launched to provide real-time insights into activewear pricing, assortments and promotion.

We’d also like your help to gauge how the UK's Brexit vote is affecting the global apparel industry.Are you hopeful or fearful for the future? Please take a minute to take the latest just-style Brexit Confidence Survey.

To take the survey, click here

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