Top stories on just-style in February were dominated by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak as we explored how the epidemic is shaking up apparel supply chains. The list also includes coverage of the European Commission’s decision to partially withdraw Cambodia’s preferential access to the EU, and interviews with Laura Coppen, circular and sustainable business developer at H&M Group’s The Laboratory innovation hub, and Ronna Chao, chairman of Hong Kong-based yarn spinner Novetex Textiles.

1. China clothing factories struggling to get back on track
China’s clothing and textile makers are struggling to get back on track amid the continuing novel coronavirus epidemic – telling just-style that quarantined workers, travel restrictions and material delays are disrupting production and causing ongoing uncertainty.

2. Coronavirus shaking up China’s apparel supply chain
China based analysts are raising concerns that the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak will disrupt supplies of apparel to major international fashion brands. 

3. What does the coronavirus mean for US apparel and retail?
In this China update for just-style, Rick Helfenbein looks at some of the concerns surrounding the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak, and asks: “What does Wuhan mean for our industry?”

4. Coronavirus could impact China polyester production
China’s polyester, textile and apparel industries could be under pressure as a result of the new coronavirus outbreak and resulting economic disruption, new comments suggest.

5. EU ends some trade benefits on Cambodia garments & footwear
The European Commission has partially withdrawn Cambodia’s preferential access to the EU market, in a move that means from mid-August the country will be charged duties on some garment and footwear products and all travel goods at the WTO’s Most Favoured Nation (MFN) rate.

6. Micro-factories – The future of fashion manufacturing?
The globalisation of fashion supply chains has seen fashion manufacturers in developed high wage countries lose business to larger scale suppliers in lower cost countries. But the trend towards digitisation and mass customisation means micro-factories close to customers will be a key component in the future of fashion manufacturing, according to Roit Kathiala – with benefits including speed-to-market, flexibility and a lower carbon footprint.

7. How blockchain can help fashion’s transparency problem
The integration of blockchain technology has an important role in helping fashion brands reshape supply chain sustainability and enhance transparency across their businesses, says Dr Florian Heubrandner, vice president, global business management textiles at Lenzing.

8. How The Laboratory is steering H&M Group’s sustainable future
Set up to test and scale the game-changing concepts that will help drive the fashion industry towards a more sustainable and circular future, H&M Group’s The Laboratory innovation hub also aims to challenge the way of thinking within the company – as Laura Coppen, circular and sustainable business developer, explains.

9. Cambodia urges EU to reconsider partial trade benefit withdrawal
The organisation representing garment manufacturers in Cambodia (GMAC) has urged the European Commission to reconsider its decision to partially suspend the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade benefit under which it exports goods duty-free to the EU.

10. Ralph Lauren pilots 16-day fast track supply chain
Fashion company Ralph Lauren Corporation has successfully piloted a new fast track model that has seen it execute a sweatshirt from design to delivery in just 16 days.

11. US currency ruling could hit China and Vietnam
The US has finalised a rule that allows it to impose countervailing duties on products that benefit from countries it has determined undervalue their currencies against the dollar – including key garment producers China and Vietnam.

12. From Field to Shelf – Why is cotton always the industry punch bag?
Having worked in the cotton industry for many years (including as a consultant to BASF‘s e3 sustainable cotton programme), one of the things I’ve noticed about clothing brands is that when pressed on sustainable production they almost always blame cotton for their woes, writes Robert Antoshak, managing director at Olah Inc. Why is this?

13. Novetex puts a positive spin on textile waste – Interview
Hong Kong-based yarn spinner Novetex Textiles is leading the charge towards sustainability with a HK$15m (US$1.9m) investment to help scale up a process developed by the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) to upcycle textile waste into yarns that can be reused to make garments. Chairman Ronna Chao explains more.

14. Cambodia factories may close as coronavirus hits supplies
Four textile factories in Cambodia may be forced to stand down operations due to raw material supply interruptions from China related to the Coronavirus outbreak, according to the country’s Labour Ministry.

15. US apparel sourcing patterns are changing. Here’s how
US apparel import data offers a key insight into the shifting supply chain strategies of US fashion brands and retailers. Unpicking the latest annual numbers, four key sourcing trends have emerged, according to Dr Sheng Lu, associate professor in the Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies at the University of Delaware.  

16. Bangladesh factories to track resource consumption with new tool
A tool designed to monitor the use of resources such as water and energy in Bangladesh garment factories has been launched by the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

17. Cambodia EBA withdrawal a “dramatic setback” for footwear
Cambodia’s footwear industry has expressed “disappointment” over the EU’s decision to partially suspend the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade benefit, describing the decision as a “dramatic setback” for the sector.

18. Coronavirus presents challenge for Myanmar’s garment sector
The coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak is presenting a challenge for Myanmar’s garment sector, an industry body for the country has said, as its garment factories tackle supply issues, logistical challenges, and the possibility of factory closures.

19. L Brands sells majority stake in Victoria’s Secret
L Brands has sold a majority stake in its Victoria’s Secret business to private equity firm Sycamore Partners, in a deal worth $525m.

20. China loses share of US apparel imports in 2019
China’s share of US apparel imports has dropped for the first time since 2016, with new figures suggesting companies are continuing to diversify their sourcing away from China even though it remains the cheapest of the top-10 supplier countries.