Blog: Michelle RussellCovid-19 shines a light on new supplier and brand relationships

Michelle Russell | 2 November 2020

Amid the challenges and ongoing uncertainty thrown up by the global coronavirus pandemic, some apparel and footwear brands and retailers appear to be engaging more with their suppliers in key areas like planning and forecasting, according to the 2020 Better Buying Index Report.

However, a separate survey has also highlighted ongoing disparities in purchasing practices, suggesting fashion brands and retailers are continuing to undermine their garment suppliers by driving down prices and imposing onerous payment schedules on new orders.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had an unparalleled impact on the apparel industry, causing drastic changes in the way it manages supply chains. Consequently, digitalisation and technology have moved from being a competitive advantage to a practical necessity as businesses adapt to new ways of working.

The crisis has also exposed the inequity of power that exists between brands and the supply chain – but has also provided a window of opportunity to fix it, according to a new report that sets out steps to build an ethical denim and jeans industry for the future.

As its fashion sourcing business continues to recover from the disruption wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, PDS Group has wasted no time in picking up the pace on new projects and investments to broaden its portfolio.

A data-rich cotton sustainability initiative is ramping up to help brands and retailers better track the environmental impact of the cotton entering their supply chains.

And a four-year study has found 82% of what is considered apparel and textile waste can actually be renewed and resold, effectively meaning brands are sitting on their next supply chain.

But an expert task force set up to review the Better Cotton Initiative's Better Cotton Standard System (BCSS) has found that decent work receives less attention than environmental issues such as water and soil health – and that there is "organisational blindness" to forced labour.

Clothing and textile manufacturers and their suppliers working in the European Union (EU) may face increasing controls over their use of potentially toxic chemicals under a new policy paper released by the European Commission.

The government of Bangladesh has kickstarted a process to amend its labour law to enable it to continue to benefit from the European Union's Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) trade scheme.

And a referendum is taking place next month in Switzerland that would make Swiss corporations liable for human rights abuses and environmental violations in their supply chain operations.

In other news, Asos launches a new womenswear label; Tapestry appoints interim CEO Joanne Crevoiserat to the role on a permanent basis; Next plc raises full-year guidance on positive Q3; and JCPenney is to emerge from Chapter 11 under new owners.

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