Top stories on just-style in March include an interview with Sanjeev Bahl, CEO of Vietnam-based ethical denim manufacturer Saitex, and a look at the US apparel and footwear industry's most pressing trade matters for 2021. Elsewhere, we look at the new laws of garment sourcing, how the UK government plans to support sustainable fashion, and how global fashion brands are being urged not to trade their human rights principles for market access, despite facing a barrage of commercial retaliation in China over their statements against the use of forced Uyghur labour. 

1. 'Made in China for China' focus of new five-year plan 
China next five-year plan aims to push clothing production westwards – including the contentious province of Xinjiang – and grow the domestic market in the world's largest producer of apparel, footwear and raw materials.

2. Ongoing lockdowns "killing" Bangladesh garment industry 
The owner of a jeans manufacturer in Bangladesh is warning of a grave humanitarian crisis in the country if fashion stores in key export markets do not reopen for business soon.

3. The new laws of garment sourcing
In the new post-virus global garment industry, there will be a shakeout. We may find ourselves operating in an industry with a one-strike-you-are-out environment, where sustainability is the name of the game.

4. US apparel imports continued to gain ground in January 
US apparel imports remained at high levels into the start of 2021, bucking the usual trend for a slowdown after the holiday season. Import volumes climbed more than 13% on the month before as retailers continued to import huge amounts of merchandise to meet ongoing consumer demand.

5. Turkey manufacturers complain of more ill-treatment by brands
Nearly a year after the Covid-19 pandemic adversely impacted the Turkish garment sector, the country's clothing manufacturers are once again complaining of ill-treatment by major brands amid subdued market demand. 

6. 2021 trade priorities for US apparel and footwear industry 
Renewal of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB), and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) are on the list of pressing trade matters presented by the US apparel and footwear industry to newly-appointed US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

7. Denim major Saitex on a quest to be a force for good
The global pandemic has done little to dampen the drive of Vietnam-based ethical denim manufacturer Saitex, which has forged ahead with plans to set up a production line for people with different abilities, and set up a new model factory in Los Angeles. And its ambitions don't end here, as founder and CEO, Sanjeev Bahl, explains.

8. Here's how the UK plans to support sustainable fashion 
Plans to reduce waste have been unveiled by the UK government today (18 March), including proposals for new measures that will ramp up action on fast fashion and hold manufacturers accountable for textile waste.

9. New AI-driven consumer intelligence platform for apparel brands 
A new AI-driven consumer intelligence platform has been launched to help apparel brands execute smarter and faster decisions by connecting consumer and market insights.

10. From Field to Shelf – Do current consumer attitudes foretell apparel's future? 
Although we're not out of the woods yet regarding the pandemic and an anaemic economy, brands are stirring back to life. But with this tentative awakening comes cautiousness and uncertainty about the clothing market. Specifically, will consumers buy clothes as they did before the pandemic, or have we entered a new world? asks industry consultant Robert Antoshak.

11. How the pandemic has put a "fundamental flip" on retail 
The coronavirus pandemic has been the catalyst to fundamentally change consumers' shopping habits, offering new opportunities for brands and retailers to engage with new customers in new channels.

12. UN Human Rights Council targets companies over Xinjiang forced labour
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has sent out letters to a raft of international companies, including those in the apparel and textiles industry, about their potential use of forced labour in China, as companies continue to be urged to conduct reviews of their supply chains.

13. Sri Lanka eyes post-Covid exports with new textile park
Sri Lanka is making a significant step to increase the share of locally-sourced raw materials in clothing made in the country by setting up a new fabric processing park.

14. Boohoo in major supplier cull amid new strategy launch
UK online fast fashion retailer Boohoo has substantially cut its supplier network following an investigation into its supply chain last year, receiving praise from Sir Brian Leveson for its work so far in his second progress report published today (25 March).

15. Fashion firms urged to resist China boycott threats
Global fashion brands are being urged not to trade their human rights principles for market access, despite facing a barrage of commercial retaliation in China over their statements against the use of forced Uyghur labour. 

16. Chinese backlash over Xinjiang cotton rages on
The backlash by Chinese consumers against Western fashion and footwear brands over their stance on forced labour in cotton-hub Xinjiang appears to be worsening, with calls for boycotts extending to more companies and domestic firms pledging their support for the raw material.   

17. Suez Canal reopens amid supply backlogs and delays
A giant container ship that has blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week has finally been freed – but the impact on global trade is still likely to be felt for some time to come.

18. Gap Inc strikes deal to offload Janie and Jack
US specialty clothing retailer Gap Inc is to sell its Janie and Jack business to brand investment platform Go Global Retail as part of its bid to prioritise focus and resources behind its billion-dollar Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic and Athleta labels.

19. H&M Group stresses long-term commitment to China
Swedish fast fashion retailer H&M Group today (31 March) emphasised its long-term commitment to China, after coming under fire from Chinese consumers over its stance on forced labour in cotton-hub Xinjiang.

20. MPs call for UK garment trade adjudicator to tackle abuses
A group of MPs is urging the UK Government to set up a Garment Trade Adjudicator to accelerate efforts to stamp out abusive purchasing practices in the UK fashion supply chain.