Blog: Hannah AbdullaDoes the clothing supply chain need to push the reset button?

Hannah Abdulla | 27 July 2020

The global apparel and textile industry supply chain is in need of a complete reset if it is to survive beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, and this could mean changing to a demand-driven calendar, embracing 'stratification', and distributing margin differently.

For Ranjan Mahtani, chairman and CEO at Epic Group, the global Covid-19 pandemic is the final straw. He believes the time has finally come for brands, retailers and their suppliers to take stock, re-evaluate current practices – and redefine their roles for the future.

In the UK, total retail sales in June appear to have bounced back to pre-pandemic levels, but the clothing and footwear sector lags far behind, with sales still down almost 35% from February.

On the retail front, bankrupt menswear retailer Brooks Brothers has received a $305m takeover bid from Sparc Group, which is partially backed by Authentic Brands Group.

And Ascena Retail Group, owner of the Ann Taylor, Loft and Lane Bryant chains, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, becoming the latest retail group to do so during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sustainability is growing in importance to fashion shoppers, but they are becoming increasingly aware of when a company is greenwashing and are becoming less inclined to take claims at face value.

Hong-Kong headquartered Esquel Group, one of the world's leading shirt makers, has hit back at allegations from the US government its Chinese spinning mill is engaged in forced labour of Uyghurs.

But human rights campaigners are leading a call for apparel brands and retailers to end all sourcing – from cotton to finished garments – from China's Xinjiang region within 12 months.

Moving to Cambodia, governments are being urged to follow the lead of the European Union (EU) and pressure authorities in Cambodia to take action to address the human rights situation in the country.

Adopting blockchain technology will make integration of end-to-end traceability faster and easier for companies.

A smartphone-based education app developed by Fung Group's knowledge and innovation unit has been acquired by business risk and sustainability solutions provider Elevate to boost communication between factory workers and supervisors.

While Germany's government is to introduce a law that will force companies to ensure human rights and social minimum standards are met in their supply chains, a move the country's textile trade body says is a "slap in the face" for the German economy.

Meanwhile, UK fast-fashion retailer Boohoo says it has written to the Home Secretary and offered its support for a licensing scheme that ensures all garment factories are meeting their legal obligations to their employees.

In other news, Mali has been deemed eligible for textile and apparel benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

And Tapestry Inc CEO, Jide Zeitlin, has resigned from his role with immediate effect after less than a year at the helm of the New York-based apparel and accessories firm.


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