In-depth apparel and textile sourcing features

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By giving our journalists the freedom to write about subjects in more depth, these longer reads offer a deeper look into the big issues the apparel and textile industry is facing along with extra background coverage, statistics, and comment.

How to manage the hem and haw of inventory 19 Oct 2018

Guest author

As consumer buying habits and demands become ever more complex, inventory management is key to ensuring companies can quickly respond to any fluctuations in customer demand and maintain the flow of product availability.


What 'see now, buy now' means for the supply chain 10 Oct 2018

Malcolm Newbery and Yvonne Haschka

A phenomenon is exciting and confusing the fashion world in equal measures: ‘See now, buy now’ (SNBN). But is it a mould-breaking departure for the industry or a bit of marketing publicity? And what does it mean for the supply chain?


Counteracting rising costs with digital colour measurement 9 Oct 2018

Guest author

The price of dyes and chemicals is rising – bringing with it worry and uncertainty for the textile industry. One solution is to move to digital colour measurement technology – which can help counteract the cost.


Timeline – Trump’s track record on trade – Update 2 Oct 2018

Dr Sheng Lu

Since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, his administration has been busy fulfilling major campaign promises on trade policy – much to the concern of US fashion brands and apparel retailers. To keep abreast of developments, Dr Sheng Lu, associate professor in the Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies at the University of Delaware, has compiled a timeline of all the key milestones.


Who has signed the Bangladesh Transition Accord – Update 20 Sep 2018

Beth Wright

192 companies have now signed the '2018 Accord' or 'Transition Accord' Bangladesh worker safety pact – with Holland House Fashion and ICA Sweden among the latest to commit. Here we list the signatories so far.


How to build a balanced apparel sourcing strategy 10 Sep 2018

Malcolm Newbery

A balanced scorecard approach is key to helping supply chain managers make the best decisions around where in the world their garments are made, based on at least 10 factors ranging from cost to speed to market. Here, industry consultant Malcolm Newbery offers advice on how to achieve a balanced sourcing strategy.


How labour costs compare across 25 top supply countries 5 Sep 2018

Robert P Antoshak

It takes more than cheap labour to produce competitively priced clothing – and the re:source by just-style online sourcing tool lets us quickly measure and compare how labour costs stack up for the world's top 25 clothing supply countries.


Successful price negotiation in global apparel sourcing 16 Aug 2018

Malcolm Newbery

Price negotiation is a critical, and often stressful, aspect of apparel sourcing – but it is also integral to the health of any brand's bottom line, so getting it right is crucial. Here industry consultant Malcolm Newbery offers some key tips in negotiation tactics.


Why is the used clothing trade such a hot-button issue? 2 Aug 2018

Shannon Brady and Sheng Lu

Apparel exports from Rwanda to the United States lost their duty-free benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) after the country refused to lift a policy that effectively bans imports of used clothing. Here, Shannon Brady and Sheng Lu from the University of Delaware offer some insights into world used clothing trade – and share their thoughts on why it deserves more attention.


re:source – the future of apparel sourcing starts here 23 Jul 2018

Leonie Barrie

What has 26 million rows of data, more than 90+ trade agreements, in-depth profiles of the world’s top 25 garment producing countries, and 20 years of clothing trade data? Answer: the new re:source suite of apparel sourcing tools developed by the team here at just-style. And best of all? It’s now live.


What should suppliers do when retailers go bust? 12 Jul 2018

Michelle Russell

Difficult trading conditions on the high street, increased online competition, rising costs and low consumer confidence are pushing retail bankruptcies to record-highs. Yet while the store closures and redundancies are widely reported, the fallout is also reverberating further along the supply chain.


Who pays for a higher wage for garment factory workers? 28 Jun 2018

Doug Miller & Klaus Hohenegger

Despite ongoing statutory minimum wage rises in a number of countries and their provinces, there continues to be a disconnect between buying departments and compliance teams when it comes to costing labour in price negotiations. So who should pay for a minimum wage increase? Two industry experts share their thoughts.


How to unlock the value of time in your supply chain 14 Jun 2018

Guest author

A metric has been developed to help textile and apparel supply chains evaluate the value of time in product development, merchandising and sourcing decisions. The model is aimed at brands and retailers searching for ways to increase full-price sell-through or grow profit, as Vaughn Jordan, deputy director at Cotton Council International, explains.


Faster fashion – How to shorten the apparel calendar 29 May 2018

Guest author

To get new styles into stores more quickly, fashion companies must improve internal collaboration, tap into consumer insights, and start to digitise the value chain, according to insight from McKinsey.


Can Vietnam reach its apparel export potential? 24 May 2018

Dr Sheng Lu

Vietnam’s clothing exports have surged over the past decade, and the country is widely seen as the ‘next China’ for apparel sourcing. But despite optimism for further expansion under the upcoming CPTPP and EVFTA trade pacts, buyers should instead prepare for limited growth.


Why digitisation is the smart approach to quality 17 May 2018

Leonie Barrie

Digitising the quality process at Helly Hansen and VF Corporation is disrupting the traditional concept of quality control – and paving the way for a move from inspection towards in-process quality management.


EU textile and apparel trade – four key things to know 3 May 2018

Dr Sheng Lu

Based on an analysis of Eurostat data, Dr Sheng Lu, assistant professor in the Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies at the University of Delaware provides a big-picture overview of the state of the EU textile and apparel industry and trade. Understanding these critical patterns is key to helping companies better explore the region's huge sourcing and market access opportunities.


Rana Plaza five years on – Timeline of change 24 Apr 2018

Beth Wright

On the fifth anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh, just-style has taken a step-by-step look at the changes that have been made to improve worker and building safety within the country's ready-made garment industry. 


Can blockchain transform the apparel supply chain? 12 Apr 2018

Ivan Castano Freeman

Blockchain is the big buzzword in business circles at the moment, and a string of blockchains is evolving to disrupt the sourcing and retail landscape. But what is blockchain, how do these chains work and can they really revolutionise the fashion industry? Here we take a closer look.


What’s best for business – Family firms vs public companies 2 Mar 2018

David Birnbaum

Why are family-run firms prospering while traditional professionally-run multinational corporations are failing? David Birnbaum suggests the best examples of the contrast between the two are to be found within the global garment industry.


Four key patterns in US apparel imports 1 Mar 2018

Dr Sheng Lu

What do the changing dynamics of US apparel imports reveal about the shifting sourcing and supply chain strategies of US fashion brands and retailers? Dr Sheng Lu, assistant professor in the Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies at the University of Delaware, takes a look.


Where are the world's key sources of denim fabrics? 15 Feb 2018

Robert P Antoshak

What are the key sources in the world supply of denim fabrics? In particular, which countries play a major role in the trade of this essential material? And do global trade flows offer an insight into possible future trends? Robert Antoshak, managing director at Olah Inc, takes a look at the data.


Machine learning – The intelligent way to grow margin 29 Jan 2018

Guest author

Profits and gross margins are under pressure for fashion retailers. But could Artificial Intelligence (AI) hold the key to optimising markdowns and unlocking value in the supply chain?


Four stages on the road to digital transformation 19 Jan 2018

Guest author

More businesses are making meaningful progress towards the goal of becoming digital enterprises. But while digital transformation pushes brands to innovate from the bottom up, change needs to begin at the top.


Technologies transforming key points of the supply chain 10 Jan 2018

Guest author

Adopting new technologies has become critical in organisations across all industries to help improve process efficiency, effectiveness, and boost performance. Here are some with the potential to revolutionise key points of the apparel retail supply chain.


Digitalisation – Fear or opportunity for fashion and footwear? 21 Dec 2017

Michelle Russell

With increasing pressure to deliver on speed, customisation and transparency, the apparel industry is waking up to the importance of embracing digitalisation as an integral part of its business strategy and operations. Here just-style takes a look at its impact on the sector, the challenges and opportunities of investing in digital, and its future.


5 key trends in world textile and apparel trade 14 Dec 2017

Dr Sheng Lu

Based on an analysis of the latest World Trade Organization (WTO) data, this article identifies five key trends in world textile and apparel trade and assesses their future implications.


Tackling sexual harassment in the garment industry 8 Dec 2017

Guest author

High-profile cases involving Hollywood, the media and political figures have exposed a global crisis of workplace sexual harassment. And garment workers are among the most vulnerable, says Aruna Kashyap, a lawyer who works for Human Rights Watch.


Chasing cheap garment prices is no longer enough 4 Dec 2017

Michelle Russell

Retailers need to move away from an obsession with sourcing costs and focus instead on reinventing their operating model to unlock trapped value in their supply chains.


Strategies to survive in a declining apparel market 5 Oct 2017

David Birnbaum

Surviving in a declining market is the biggest challenge for the discount/mass-market retailers and suppliers of commodity products such as basic T-shirts, hoodies or cotton men's shirts. David Birnbaum believes it is time to stop negotiating and bring in the engineers.


Five key buying practices that put pressure on suppliers 29 Sep 2017

Leonie Barrie

One relatively under-explored aspect of global supply chains is how buyer purchasing practices can put pressure on suppliers in terms of timeline, prices and delivery – and the knock-on impact on suppliers' capacity to provide decent wages and working conditions.


Consolidation of the international trade of apparel 13 Sep 2017

Robert P Antoshak

The two largest apparel import markets in the world – the European Union and United States – are dominated by a comparatively small group of supplier countries. At the same time, fewer types of products are also sold in greater quantities.


Breaking out of the cheap commodity garment trap 31 Aug 2017

David Birnbaum

From basic commodities to high value added fashion, why do some industries develop while others remain forever mired in cheap garments? David Birnbaum takes a closer look.


Three ways to minimise quality errors and chargebacks 30 Aug 2017

Guest author

Communication is critical to aligning expectations on major and minor defects and producing consistently high-quality garments – and there are three key ways brands can minimise quality discrepancies, errors and chargebacks.


Three ways to accelerate innovation in sustainable fashion 9 Aug 2017

Guest author

Across the fashion industry, there is clear appetite for improved sustainability and positive change. Today, many hope to see the creation of a circular economy, through which old clothes and materials are recycled, recovered or regenerated instead of being thrown away. Industry leaders also want to see a reduction in the environmental impact caused by the manufacturing process.


How to build winning buyer-supplier relationships 7 Aug 2017

Michelle Russell

Regular communication, ensuring buyers are fully trained, and that both sides are up-to-date with the latest trends are all important ingredients for a good working relationship between a supplier and a retailer.


Five key costs linked to poor product quality 25 Jul 2017

Guest author

For consumer-driven, competitive apparel and footwear companies, product quality is critical. When managed well, it can improve your brand image, strengthen your consumer relationships, and reduce your operational and financial costs.


5 ways to stay agile in an on-demand economy 18 Jul 2017

Guest author

Thanks to the digital revolution, consumers today are in control. With endless options for where to shop, when to shop, what to buy, what price to pay, and how to receive it, customer loyalty erodes each time expectations are not properly met. This article asks if on-demand manufacturing is a game changer – and sets out five ways to stay agile in an on-demand economy.


RCEP and its potential impact on textile and apparel trade 13 Jun 2017

Dr Sheng Lu

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has the potential to be one of the most significant mega-FTAs in the world, both economically and politically. And as Dr Sheng Lu, assistant professor at the Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies at the University of Delaware explains, the implications for the textile and apparel trade are enormous.


Why collaboration is key to a successful fashion supply chain 27 Apr 2017

Guest author

Collaboration between retailers, brands and their suppliers is a mission critical element in developing a slicker and more cost-effective supply chain. But in today’s complex fashion environment, putting it into practice is still a considerable challenge.


Four steps to reduce product defects 17 Mar 2017

Guest author

In the modern apparel industry, change is rapid. Consumer behaviours and perceptions are shifting. Cost pressures are intensifying. And while poor quality has long resulted in widespread markdowns and chargebacks, now it may result in permanently lost clients.


Finding value in reverse logistics in fashion retail 16 Mar 2017

Guest author

Driving the cost out of your returns process and rethinking whatever programme you have in place is a must in today's highly competitive retail landscape, and can mean the difference between winning and losing.


Five ways to reduce bribery in quality control 8 Mar 2017

Guest author

In recent decades, global supply chains have advanced in many ways. Technology, efficiency, and responsiveness have improved. Investments in quality control and compliance have increased. But two things have remained: corruption and bribery. Here are five ways to reduce bribery in quality control – and strengthen your brand in the process.


Using technology to deliver style with substance 24 Jan 2017

Guest author

Here's how technology can empower fashion retailers to deliver a genuinely personalised, omnichannel experience.


Steps to piloting living wages in garment factories 5 Dec 2016

Leonie Barrie

While there is no single, simple solution to help garment brands and retailers progress from paying minimum wages to living wages to workers in their supply chains, feedback from those companies who have already made the move is a good place to start.


Software for financial planning and operations 2 Dec 2016

Kitty So

Clothing brands and manufacturers wanting to maximise their financial performance are being offered an increasingly varied and sophisticated array of software systems to guide their planning and operations.


How planning is key to an effective inventory strategy 1 Dec 2016

Mandy Kovacs

Keeping track of inventory can make or break a fashion brand, and experts say there are several solutions to achieving this in an effective manner. 


Why traditional financing is a misfit for fast fashion 30 Nov 2016

Poorna Rodrigo

Slow and cumbersome traditional financing does not fit the needs of dynamic, small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in today's fast fashion-driven garment industry.


Debtor finance products a growing niche in fashion 29 Nov 2016

Lee Adendorff

Specialised debtor finance products for the garment industry is a niche area that continues to grow – with services increasingly being offered worldwide.


Fusing ethics and finance to boost the bottom line 18 Nov 2016

Guest author

Ethical performance and supply chain finance are an unlikely partnership – but fusing the two can be a winning combination for the fashion and apparel industry.


Fast Fashion – Tech tools to transform supply chains 7 Nov 2016

Andrew Burnyeat

Most fast fashion brands span multiple brands, channels and countries – and technology can help revolutionise supply chains at all stages from prototype design to packing and shipping.


Fast fashion – The choice to air freight or wait 4 Nov 2016

Andrew Burnyeat

While the various modes of transport available to clothing companies all offer a mix of benefits and disadvantages, experts say only use air freight if there is no other realistic option and the speed of delivery justifies its cost with high value sales.


Fast fashion – How to balance speed and innovation 4 Nov 2016

Andrew Burnyeat

Fast fashion is all about getting product to market quickly without over-spending – and fabric platforming, data metrics and new technologies such as digital printing can all help to speed up the process.


The decline and fall of the supply chain manager 11 May 2016

David Birnbaum

The role of the middleman has become far greater and more important than ever before, with responsibility beginning before the onset of the supply chain and continuing long after its end – as David Birnbaum explains.


12 trends shaping global supply chains to 2025 10 May 2016

Michelle Russell

Supply chains are often one issue away from a major disruption – but managing risk has declined in priority for many organisations, who cite lack of bandwidth and budget as the biggest roadblocks. Here are 12 trends likely to shape the global outlook and operating environment through to 2025.


Trading company or factory direct – what's best? 30 Mar 2016

Guest author

As margins continue to be squeezed, one question often asked by sourcing managers is whether or not to use a trading company. Surely, the argument goes, dealing direct with a factory is the best route to better prices and quality. Sourcing consultant Philip Worrall explains why this is not always the case.


Roadmap to the apparel supply chain of the future 19 Jan 2016

Leonie Barrie

While consumers increasingly crave instant gratification, one-of-a-kind merchandise, and more options than ever before in terms of products and how and where to buy them, retailers and brands are being hampered by supply chains that are legacies of a previous era. Is a fundamental redesign the answer? Or can existing ones be improved?


Petrochemicals and polyester – the next sustainability challenge? 16 Jul 2015

Guest author

Fibre, textile and apparel companies are dealing with an intense and growing pressure to deliver greater transparency across the supply chain. But where does their knowledge begin and end? When it comes to sustainability in the polyester production process, the picture is increasingly complicated according to The PCI Consulting Group, which has spent the past four years researching the issue.


10 ways to develop a balanced sourcing strategy 24 Nov 2009

Leonie Barrie

A good sourcing strategy should be in a constant state of flux, shifting to take account of changing markets, competition, costs, risks and opportunities. Its foundations must fit in with a firm’s overall corporate objectives and brand positioning – and never has it been more critical to build the top line too. Here are 10 key things you need to consider.


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