Blog: Michelle RussellBrands urged to condemn Myanmar coup

Michelle Russell | 1 March 2021

Fashion brands and retailers sourcing in Myanmar are now being urged to take action to help end the military coup in the country – including publicly joining international condemnation of the takeover.

The country today resembles Romania 30 years ago, when the country swerved at the last possible moment from potential catastrophe to a more prosperous and peaceful future. And the clothing industry is key to its transformation. 

Updated legislation has been reintroduced that would prevent any goods from entering the United States unless there is proof they do not contain inputs originating from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China.

While clothing that is produced anywhere in the world but has links to forced labour in China's Xinjiang province is included in a recent withhold release order (WRO) banning imports into the US.

Textiles and apparel might be a global industry, but the latest statistics show trade patterns remain largely regional. However, changes are happening, and align closely with the shifting sourcing strategies of fashion brands and retailers and related free trade agreements.

Meanwhile, consumer expectations of socially responsible fashion are at a high but there's a long way to go for fashion to become truly sustainable. Meaningful progress will be achieved by consolidated action from the full industry ecosystem – including several radical changes to fashion supply chains.

The past few years have been transformational for the apparel sector in terms of changing expectations on human rights and sustainability. But this is just the beginning. Here we look at the story so far and the new chapter starting in 2021.

For the fashion world, 2020 forever changed the industry's landscape. Supply chains were disrupted, established retailers closed their doors, and consumers moved online. As many of the standard practices stumbled or came to a halt, the relatively new process of on-demand manufacturing has boomed.

In the US, a raft of fashion companies, industry organisations and experts have joined forces to call on the Biden Administration to appoint a czar to coordinate the policies and people of the industry in relation to labour and environment. While legislation to create one national 'Made in USA' labelling standard has been introduced to avoid "confusing differences" in state regulations.

In the deals world, Apex Global Brands, owner of the Magnum and Cherokee brands, has entered into a merger agreement with Galaxy Universal, a wholesaling, sourcing and brand management company. And Finnish sustainable fibre producer Spinnova has signed a 50:50 joint venture with wood pulp producer Suzano.

In other news, John Lewis could be set to close a further eight stores; H&M's joint venture TreeToTextile is to build a demonstration plant for scaling its new regenerated cellulosic fibre; Primark warns of GBP1.1bn first-half sales hit; and Asos strengthens support for supply chain workers.

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