Blog: Michelle RussellPublic opinion matters more than Modern Slavery Act

Michelle Russell | 17 August 2015

Britain’s Modern Slavery Act, which began coming into force at the end of July, sets new disclosure standards on an extraordinary number of garment businesses. But its legal niceties won’t really determine the law’s impact, says one industry observer, who believes public opinion matters more.

As is well-accepted in the business community, buyers are responsible for what they source and who they source from - especially if that product or service is used directly to create their own product or service. But what, exactly, is the ethical role of the buyer in the supply chain?

When it comes to sustainability in the apparel supply chain, it is easy to underestimate its complexity. While there are no simple solutions, industry experts believe improvements can come about through social change, collaboration and innovation.

Elsewhere, China's decision last week to push its currency lower has fuelled concerns the world's second largest economy is heading for a slowdown. It also led to suggestions by one consultancy that it could "significantly" influence China's textile and apparel exports.

And in Myanmar, new skills programmes and increased foreign investment in footwear manufacturing appear set to generate growth in a sector that, to date, has lagged behind the country’s garment industry.

For the US apparel retail market, July proved to be a difficult month, with several companies reporting sales hurt by tax holiday shifts in some southern states. As a result, retailers heading into the key back-to-school selling season have lost some momentum.

In other news, an event is being planned in Bangladesh later this year to set out a roadmap to help the country reach US$50bn in apparel exports by 2021; an Indonesian footwear supplier to Nike has opened a $60m facility in West Java; and Infor has agreed a $675m deal to acquire cloud-based global commerce platform GT Nexus.

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