In-depth apparel and textile 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.

Which products would be hardest hit if NAFTA nixed? 8 Nov 2017

Dr Sheng Lu

As talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) head into their fifth round later this month, concerns remain that US President Donald Trump may end the agreement should the United States, Canada and Mexico be unable to strike a deal. Here Dr Sheng Lu, assistant professor at the Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies at the University of Delaware, identifies the textile and apparel products that would be most affected by NAFTA's termination. 


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

A recent survey set out to understand one relatively underexplored aspect of global supply chains: 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.


The impact of Trump’s trade policy on apparel businesses 26 Sep 2017

Dr Sheng Lu

There’s no doubt the Trump administration has been very active on the trade front – but what exactly is its trade policy, what is it hoping to achieve, and what are the implications for the textile and apparel industry? Dr Sheng Lu, assistant professor at the Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies at the University of Delaware, takes a look.


Digitisation – The next apparel sourcing hotspot? 14 Sep 2017

Leonie Barrie

So far, the promise of digitisation in the apparel industry remains largely unfulfilled. But with opportunities for new cheap supplier countries nearly exhausted, it is now seen as offering sourcing executives untapped potential to lower costs, shorten lead times and increase transparency. A new survey takes a deep dive into unlocking digitisation's potential.


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. Here, Robert Antoshak, managing director at Olah Inc, wades through the trade data.


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.


NAFTA renegotiation – Key issues for textiles and apparel – Update 24 Aug 2017

Leonie Barrie

As the United States, Canada and Mexico embark on talks to renegotiate the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), we take an in-depth look at key issues for textile and apparel supply chains. In the latest developments, the three partner countries concluded the first round of talks saying they were committed to "an accelerated and comprehensive negotiation process"; but US president Donald Trump has revived threats to pull the US out of NAFTA.


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.


Trade policy tops sourcing concerns for US fashion firms 21 Jul 2017

Leonie Barrie

The impact of trade protectionism, increasing market competition from e-commerce, and supply chain risk are the top concerns for US fashion industry executives in 2017, a new survey has found, overtaking more traditional worries like cost. Other findings point to an emerging ‘China plus Vietnam plus Many’ sourcing model, and more weight given to social compliance and sustainability in sourcing decisions.


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.


Top tips for choosing and evaluating your suppliers 11 Jul 2017

Liz Leffman

Finding the right supplier and creating a long-term relationship is something everyone in the fashion industry aspires to. It is the formula for creating a successful business – but it's also remarkably elusive. Here Liz Leffman offers some tips for anyone in the industry who wants to find a new factory, but isn't sure what to look for.


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 – as Siobhan Gehin, managing director, Kurt Salmon part of Accenture Strategy, explains.


What might TTIP mean for US and EU textiles and apparel? 20 Mar 2017

Dr Sheng Lu

Over the past four years, the United States and the European Union (EU) have been negotiating the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP or T-TIP) free trade agreement, which intends to unlock market access opportunities for businesses on both sides of the Atlantic through the elimination of trade and investment barriers as well as enhanced regulatory coherence. Here Dr Sheng Lu, assistant professor at the Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies at the University of Delaware, looks at what the pact might mean for the US and EU textile and apparel industries.


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.


10 human rights risks to supply chains in 2017 9 Mar 2017

Leonie Barrie

The US migrant clampdown, land grabs and slavery blind spots are among the top human rights risks for business in 2017, new research has revealed.


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 Jose Suarez suggests five ways to reduce bribery in quality control – and strengthen your brand in the process.


China leads US apparel sources with falling prices 20 Feb 2017

Michelle Russell

For all the claims that US apparel buyers are seeking alternative sources to China amid concerns it is losing its competitiveness, new data suggests otherwise, with the country's prices lower now than six years ago.


Trade Tracker – Trump’s first three weeks and Brexit timelines 16 Feb 2017

Mike Flanagan

New twists and turns are taking place on the trade front almost daily, largely driven by the UK’s Brexit vote to leave the EU and the Trump administration’s new policies. In this new monthly column Mike Flanagan unravels the latest developments and their likely impact on the global apparel supply chain – along with advice on how buyers and suppliers should respond.


Outlook 2017 – Ten apparel supply chain takeaways 27 Jan 2017

Leonie Barrie

Several recurring themes cropped up in just-style’s roundup of sourcing and supply chain issues likely to impact apparel and footwear firms in 2017. The reports, which ran across four articles and more than 11,000 words, combined the views of a panel of industry executives. Here we condense their words of wisdom.


Using technology to deliver style with substance 24 Jan 2017

Guest author

Jason Rushforth, vice president and general manager of the Customer Experience Suite at Infor, looks at how technology can empower fashion retailers to deliver a genuinely personalised, omnichannel experience.


Ten retail trends to watch for in 2017 23 Jan 2017

Michelle Russell

The rise of e-commerce, the adoption of increasingly intelligent technology, faster delivery and the need for better supply chain visibility will all likely dominate the retail industry through 2017. Fung Global Retail & Technology offers some retail trends to watch out for in the year ahead. 


Is the apparel industry about to be Trumped? – Infographic 18 Jan 2017

Leonie Barrie

The election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States casts a shadow of uncertainty over the textile and apparel sector, with his promises to tear up US trade agreements, impose tariffs on imports from China and Mexico, and bring back US jobs and manufacturing. Here we take a closer look at what’s at stake, with a special infographic powered by re:source from just-style, a new tool that uses data and intelligence to help apparel companies save time, reduce cost and manage supply chain risk.


Outlook 2017 – What else is the apparel industry watching? 11 Jan 2017

Leonie Barrie

In the final part of our Outlook 2017 report we asked industry executives what keeps them awake at night – and other issues the apparel sector should be keeping a close eye on in the year ahead. Not surprisingly, the future of trade policy and free trade agreements – and the risk of trade war breaking out – were top of the list, along with finding opportunities to achieve growth, health and safety, and preparing for the unexpected.


Outlook 2017 – Strategies for sourcing success 10 Jan 2017

Leonie Barrie

What should apparel firms be doing now if they want to remain competitive into the future? Diversified supply chains, new technologies in both sourcing and product development, and a focus on speed, productivity and innovation are among the strategies that will help to separate the winners from the losers in 2017 and beyond.


Outlook 2017 – What next for apparel sourcing? 9 Jan 2017

Leonie Barrie

How is the sourcing landscape likely to shift in 2017, and what strategies can help apparel firms and their suppliers to stay ahead? As global politics become more turbulent, moving things closer to home or out of the eye of the storm makes sense, executives say. A balanced and diversified sourcing portfolio is key, with a digitised supply chain also helping to speed decision-making.


Outlook 2017 – Apparel industry challenges and opportunities 6 Jan 2017

Leonie Barrie

2017 is shaping up to be another uncertain year for the apparel industry and its supply chain, according to first feedback from a panel of executives consulted by just-style. Prospects for volatile and uneven growth, Trump’s trade policies, and tensions between the US and China are seen as the biggest challenges – as well as presenting opportunities for retailers and brands to rethink their business models.


Article 50 and its impact on European supply chains 4 Jan 2017

Guest author

Amidst all the uncertainty surrounding Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, the government’s deadline of 31 March to begin two years of exit talks is one of the few, more tangible dates that businesses can factor in. Here Guy Courtin, vice president of industry & solution strategy for retail and fashion at GT Nexus, looks at its likely impact on supply chain networks across Europe.


State of Sourcing 2017 – just-style survey results 23 Dec 2016

Leonie Barrie

The apparel supply chain will continue to be buffeted by rising costs and pressure for faster deliveries, smaller quantities and more styles in 2017, according to just-style’s annual State of Sourcing survey. The snapshot suggests many apparel executives are budgeting for this, while others see renegotiating with current suppliers as a key cost-cutting tactic. And almost three-quarters say they are planning to reallocate some of their sourcing in 2017.


State of Sourcing 2017 survey – Supply chain shifts 23 Dec 2016

Leonie Barrie

Having established that rising costs are among the top challenges for apparel sourcing executives as they head into 2017, the second part of just-style's State of Sourcing  2017 survey analysis drills down into their strategic plans for the future, including likely shifts in global apparel manufacturing and technology investments to help them remain competitive. 


State of Sourcing 2017 survey – Confidence and costs 23 Dec 2016

Leonie Barrie

More pessimistic expectations for consumer confidence in all key markets in the year ahead set the scene for just-style's State of Sourcing 2017 survey. The impact of the Brexit vote and the US presidential election on trade agreements are among upcoming concerns, while respondents are bracing for another year of exchange rate volatility and rising raw material and labour costs.


A new US tax proposal threatens apparel importers 20 Dec 2016

Mike Flanagan

It's a safe bet that few readers of just-style will have paid much attention to the idea of 'destination-based' profit taxes. They need to start doing so – right now – says Mike Flanagan, since the so-far obscure US tax proposal threatens all American apparel importers – and their suppliers.


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.


Why do modern robotics elude sportswear makers? 29 Nov 2016

David Green

The world's leading sportswear brands and manufacturers are struggling to equip their factories with the robotic and cyber physical systems (CPS) element of Industry 4.0 processes, at least in the near term, a major international conference has heard. 


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.


How would end of NAFTA affect US apparel industry? 23 Nov 2016

Dr Sheng Lu

President-elect Donald Trump has made no secret of his dislike of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the US, Mexico and Canada. But far from bringing back ‘Made in USA’ manufacturing, withdrawing from the pact would hurt US textile exports and do little to curb apparel imports, according to an analysis by Dr Sheng Lu, assistant professor at the Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies at the University of Delaware.


Madagascar back on the apparel sourcing radar 22 Nov 2016

Jozef De Coster

The devastating impact that political instability and the loss of trade benefits can have on an apparel manufacturing country is exemplified by Madagascar, the island off the southeast coast of Africa that all but fell off the sourcing radar when it lost its duty-free privileges to the United States at the beginning of 2010. But a change of fortunes in the last two years is now seeing its apparel exports bounce back with a vengeance.


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.


What might a Trump presidency mean for apparel? 9 Nov 2016

Leonie Barrie

Global markets have been thrown into disarray today (9 November) after Donald Trump was elected as the 45th president of the United States, in a shock result that confounded opinion polls pointing to a narrow win for Hillary Clinton.


The Flanarant – Why Trump will be true to his trade threats 9 Nov 2016

Mike Flanagan

US president-elect Donald Trump used the campaign train to set out his stance on trade issues. Instead of dismissing this as bluff and bluster, Mike Flanagan believes he will stay true to his word to impose restrictions or higher tariffs on imports – leading to massive long-term uncertainty.


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.


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