All good things must come to an end, and it is with mixed emotions that I say goodbye tomorrow (27 June) to an industry I have had the incredible pleasure of being a part of for nearly a decade.

I joined Just Style from our sister publication Just Food close to ten years ago, and shortly after the Rana Plaza tragedy. Since then, the industry has navigated a global pandemic, Trump’s trade wars, Brexit, military coups and geopolitical tensions, earthquakes, and is now battling the constraints of inflation and weakened consumer demand, to name just a few.

But it’s not all been doom and gloom. The desire by the industry to improve its sustainability credentials has been tremendous, right across the supply chain, with investment in more sustainable raw materials and revolutionary fibres, an increase in the number of textile waste initiatives, investment in new technology, the implementation of legislation to promote circularity, and an increase in collaboration to tackle the more challenging aspects of sustainability. There has also been a noticeable shift in the mindset of consumers as they become more engaged in how brands are working to clean up their supply chains and produce more sustainable clothing, with rental now increasing in popularity. But I’m sure the industry will agree, we’re only at the start of a very long journey.

The tragedy of the Rana Plaza disaster highlighted the sheer lack of safety for garment workers in the global supply chain and since then we have seen a shift in thinking around transparency, with brands now taking more responsibility for the welfare of workers.

Elsewhere, there has been phenomenal growth in online, and direct-to-consumer (DTC) models are also becoming popular as consumers look for more personalised and convenient shopping experiences. The industry has also experienced a rapid digital transformation, using technology to streamline operations, improve transparency and the customer experience. Covid certainly helped in this respect. And we have seen China’s dominant sourcing role diminish in favour of suppliers in Vietnam, India and Bangladesh.

I could go on, but you, of course, know all of this! I don’t know what the future holds for the global apparel industry but I expect to see artificial intelligence and automation playing key roles, further investment in supply chain efficiency, more innovation in tackling textile waste, and further diversification of global sourcing. Achieving affordable sustainability will also be key.

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It has been a rollercoaster of a ride for me, and I will genuinely be sad to disembark tomorrow. I leave a wonderful team – Laura, Hannah, Shemona and Isatou – but equally, I am looking forward to new challenges. I hope our paths will cross again.

Thank you, it has been a pleasure.

Michelle Russell
Deputy Editor

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