Blog: Leonie BarrieA confusing mix of sustainable cotton options

Leonie Barrie | 20 November 2017

There's an undeniable desire on the part of brands around the world to clean up their supply chains, and there's no lack of interest in using more sustainable cotton. But the confusing mix of standards and options available merely complicates the decision-making process for so many firms.

African clothing exporting countries are banking on rising costs in China and changing consumption patterns worldwide to attract buyers to the continent to take advantage of lower production costs, according to industry executives last week.

British manufacturing is also enjoying something of a renaissance. Yet the scale of the challenge presented by Brexit to the UK's fashion and textiles industry is a sizeable one that needs both government support and more industry confidence if it is to thrive.

Feedback from garment suppliers on the purchasing practices of their customers is now being collected via a new ratings platform, with a view to pinpointing areas of good practice and improvements that would support better workplace conditions.

And with just six months to go before the curtain falls on the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, country director Jim Moriarty told just-style he is "pretty confident" the group will finish the vast majority of remediation across its affiliated factories in 2018 and that headway is being made to create a new safety organisation in Bangladesh.

But the assessment from the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh is that major life-threatening safety concerns remain outstanding in too many factories – although it also hopes the vast majority will be fully remediated when its initial tenure comes to an end in May 2018.

Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Government has signed two financing agreements totalling US$457m with the World Bank to help develop private sector-led infrastructure projects, as well as diversify exports in labour-intensive industries such as leather goods and footwear.

And Chinese textile giant Wuxi No.1 Cotton Mill has signed an investment agreement with the Ethiopian Government to build an integrated textile plant in the country, in a move that could boost upsteam capacity in the African nation's fast-growing textile and clothing industry.

A project is also underway to try to clean up the Ganges river by implementing more sustainable working methods and state-of-the-art technologies with a lower environmental impact.

Is the global athleisurewear market here to stay or whether it will just end up as yet another fashion fad? This is the question posed by a new report from just-style, which suggests that while sales for some brands and retailers are indeed slowing, more sophisticated collections are buoying the sector.

In other news, trade ministers from 11 Trans-Pacific Partnership nations have agreed core elements of a new trade pact; a US withdrawal from NAFTA could lose the country credibility as a global trading partner; over US$11m worth of garment factory projects have been given the green light in Cambodia; and a new foam-dyeing process has been developed for denim manufacturing.

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