Top stories on just-style in January include an exclusive report on apparel industry challenges and opportunities in 2021, and a look at four major changes manufacturers must make to ensure they survive and thrive after Covid-19. Elsewhere, concerns continue to mount over potential Vietnam tariffs, while the month also saw reports on why Joe Biden's inauguration could help stabilise the US clothing industry, and what the US ban on Xinjiang cotton means for apparel.

1. US apparel CEOs warn against more Vietnam tariffs
Concerns continue to mount over the prospect of additional punitive tariffs being applied to US imports of apparel and footwear from Vietnam – with companies including Nike, Adidas America, Gap Inc, Levi Strauss and Under Armour the latest to oppose any such move.

2. Outlook 2021 – Apparel industry challenges and opportunities
2021 should be a year of winners and losers. The fallout from the coronavirus pandemic means there will be continued volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, with fewer retail brands, stores and malls. The winners will be those companies that communicate purpose, deliver new value, and adapt to this new normal, according to executives consulted by just-style.

3. Australia Wool 2030 strategy to tackle key industry issues
Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), the research, development and marketing organisation for the Australian wool industry, has published its Wool 2030 strategy to helping stakeholders make more informed decisions and adopt more sustainable practices.

4. Outlook 2021 – What next for apparel sourcing?
How is the sourcing landscape likely to shift in 2021, and what can apparel firms and their suppliers do to stay ahead, remain competitive and build resilience for the future? Reimagining apparel supply chains and ramping up investments in technology and digital tools to help mitigate risk, speed up production and reduce costs are key, experts say. Also top-of-mind are rewriting the rules on buyer-supplier relationships, end-to-end visibility, and a renewed push for sustainability and carbon neutrality.

5. What the US ban on Xinjiang cotton means for apparel
The US this week stepped up its efforts to crack down on forced labour in supply chains with a sweeping regional ban on the import of cotton products from China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). The move looks set to accelerate the industry sourcing shift away from China – and could prompt a surge in the adoption of alternative fibres – just-style has been told.

6. Why the Brexit trade deal requires good contract management
The United Kingdom and the European Union finally announced the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) on 24 December 2020, with the trade pact signed on 30 December 2020 and applied from 1 January 2021, when the Brexit transition period ended. For Stephen Sidkin and Lucy Coffey from Fox Williams LLP, the free trade deal "is the equivalent of arthritis – you can still do most of what you did before, but it just takes a bit longer and is more painful!"

7. VF Corp rejigs Asia sourcing operations to boost speed
VF Corporation, owner of brands including The North Face, Timberland and Vans, is shifting its Product Supply Hub – which serves as the base of its global supply chain in Asia – from Hong Kong to Singapore, amid plans to boost speed and capabilities.

8. Inditex joins new MIT consortium to fight climate change
Fashion giant Inditex is joining industry leaders including Apple, Accenture, Boeing, IBM and PepsiCo in a new cross-sector initiative to try to find a solution to the global climate crisis.

9. 'China + Vietnam + many' is still the go-to strategy
Even prior to the life-changing event that is Covid, there was a real buzz around moving production out of China, with many US brands mulling a shift closer to – or even on – home turf, amid rising concerns around trade wars and forced labour. But where are they at with those thoughts now?

10. Blockchain solution to trace Australian wool chain of custody
Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), the research, development and marketing organisation for the Australian wool industry, has partnered with blockchain firm Everledger to trace the wool chain of custody from farm to consumer.

11. 8 key trends reshaping apparel sourcing in 2021
The clothing industry and its supply chains were riddled with problems long before Covid-19 – but it took a global pandemic to push them to the fore. Country lockdowns, factory shutdowns, travel bans, labour and raw material shortages, soaring logistics costs, retailer and supplier bankruptcies and a surge in online demand all exposed the fragility of long, complex and inflexible sourcing networks. Many companies are already changing the way they operate, and it's clear the ramifications will continue well into 2021 and beyond. Here are eight key issues that are rewriting the rules on apparel sourcing.

12. Survive and thrive in the new normal – 4 changes for apparel manufacturers
Apparel manufacturers must set their goals higher than just surviving the current coronavirus crisis. They must fully embrace and exploit the opportunities the situation presents and use this to establish the foundations for growth in years to come, says Vivek Ramachandran, CEO at Serai.

13. How might the new Biden administration affect apparel?
After the rollercoaster ride of the previous administration, Joe Biden's long-awaited inauguration today (20 January) could signal more stability for an apparel industry that has been through the mill over the last four years.

14. 60% of Adidas products to be made with green materials in 2021
German sportswear giant Adidas says more than 60% of all its products will be made with sustainable materials in 2021 in a move that takes it closer to its objective of ending plastic waste.

15. Creating a new vision for UK fashion and manufacturing
A group of fashion, business and economic experts are joining forces to push the UK government to ensure the fashion and manufacturing industries aren't overlooked post-Brexit and mid-pandemic when it comes to import costs, the freedom of movement of people and goods, and retaining garment worker skills.

16. Asos is a Covid-19 winner once again – What the analysts say
Asos has posted a 23% jump in total group revenue for the four months to 26 December and expects full-year profits to come in at the top end of current market expectations, with an anticipated GBP40m boost during the first half as renewed Covid restrictions drive consumers to shop online. Analysts note the online retailer's fast reaction to lockdown categories such as loungewear, which have brought reduced returns rates as they are less fit-dependent.

17. Athleta in plus-size drive
The Athleta athletic apparel brand is rolling out a major plan for plus-size customers, with 70% of its collection available in sizes 1X-3X for spring 2021.

18. H&M's Arket brand to rent out childrenswear
Swedish fashion retailer H&M Group's Arket brand will start renting out childrenswear this month as part of a bid to encourage reuse and re-wear.

19. US apparel imports dwindle in November
Apparel shipments to the US were down month-on-month in November, with all of the top-ten individual supplier countries booking declines. On a year-on-year basis, US apparel importers continue to prioritise Asian nations over their Central American counterparts, with Vietnam, Pakistan, and Cambodia all enjoying shipment growth. 

20. Boohoo strikes GBP55m deal to acquire Debenhams brand
UK online fast fashion retailer Boohoo Group has inked a deal to acquire the global rights to Debenhams brands and its websites for GBP55m (US$75.2m) in a move aimed at furthering its ambition to create the UK's largest marketplace and grow into new categories including beauty, sport, and homeware.