Blog: Leonie BarrieBack-to-school buoys US imports

Leonie Barrie | 15 September 2014

US retailers ramped up stocks for the start of the back-to-school season in July, pushing apparel imports for the month up by 13.4%, according to the latest data. But while China and Vietnam were the biggest beneficiaries of these gains, shipments from Bangladesh, Indonesia and Cambodia tumbled.

After 40 years in Costa Rica, Hanesbrands is to move production of its men's boxers to Vietnam and will dismiss 1,250 workers in the process. The decision stems from a cost-cutting effort to move manufacturing closer to fabric suppliers in China, and will see the factories shutter in November.

The European Commission, meanwhile, has given the green light to the Philippines' GSP+ application, in a move that will lead to the removal of import duties on products including textiles and garments shipped to the EU. The proposal still needs formal approval by the European Parliament and EU Member States - with the Philippines hoping the country will have duty-free status from 1 January 2015.

As the annual cotton harvest gets underway in Uzbekistan, industry stakeholders from around the world have set out a number of steps they want the country's government to take to end the use of forced and child labour in the sector.

The "win-win" viewpoint - in which all participants are seen to benefit in one way or another - infects huge swathes of modern thinking and often crops up in debates about the garment industry. In this month's Flanarant, Mike Flanagan proposes three principles that a win-win needs if it is to succeed.

With an increasing number of companies committing to "innovation" as a key driver of growth, two separate developments came to the fore last week. The first saw VF Corp hire former Nike exec Dan Cherian to lead the company's new product innovation centres; while in the second, Sri Lankan exporter Brandix Group revealed some of potential "game-changing" apparel solutions it will help to develop.

And after booking a "stellar" first-half performance, which saw profit jump 18.6% to GBP257.7m on the back of a surge in sales, UK fashion giant Next Plc detailed the progress it has made in upgrading the quality and design of its product ranges, new and improved sources of supply and the introduction of premium priced merchandise. 

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