Blog: Leonie BarrieEsquel Group on a sustainability mission

Leonie Barrie | 30 October 2017

Hong Kong-based textile and apparel giant Esquel Group has made it its mission to weave sustainability into its core values, and across a vertical supply chain that spans every step from cotton farming to retail.

Using fewer but more skilled workers, increasing productivity, investing in robotics and automation, micro-financing cotton farmers, and even selecting the whitest cotton fibres to reduce the bleaching process are among the initiatives outlined by managing director Edgar Tung.

Meanwhile, sporting goods giant Nike Inc continues to pin its hopes on speed and scale as the driving forces for future growth. And it is already getting faster at creating, making and delivering its products, as executives explained during the company's investor day in Oregon last week.

And the world's largest garment maker, Hong Kong-based Crystal International Group, is hoping to raise up to HK$4.48bn (US$574m) in an initial public offering (IPO) that will be used to fund the expansion of its manufacturing operations and a move into fabric production.

A new sourcing platform aims to streamline the buying process by pairing brands with verified manufacturers and providing a central online hub that offers all the tools for production and ensures the entire process is embedded with transparency and integrity.

Indeed, industry stakeholders should start working together to improve production processes to meet demands from more environmentally-conscious consumers.

But one industry consultant has also warned the fast fashion response to changing market trends has a long way to go before it is fully sustainable in terms of its social, environmental and ethical pulse.

In an attempt to scale projects to improve the sustainability impact of the apparel and footwear industry, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) have joined forces with PVH Corp, Gap Inc and Target.

And online textile upcycle marketplace Reverse Resources has called for the re-manufacturing of textile waste and production leftovers.

The Chinese Government is also understood to have shut down tens of thousands of factories, including garment and textile facilities, in an unprecedented crackdown on air pollution.

The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety will end their tenures in the country next June and plan to hand over their responsibilities to a new government-led initiative – providing it is ready to take over their work.

And US sportswear brand Under Armour has become the latest apparel retailer to launch an online subscription service that sees its customers sent regular deliveries of items customised to their specific training needs and personal style.

Meanwhile in other news, US apparel retailers, brands and suppliers have joined forces to emphasise the importance of the global value chain; demand for products made from ocean plastic is set to be a key consumer trend for 2018; and Myanmar's garment exports could reach up to US$3bn this year.

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