Blog: Leonie BarrieEthics and new skill sets

Leonie Barrie | 13 November 2007

It’s the second day of my week-long visit to Sri Lanka, and already I’ve notched up about half-a-dozen interviews and four factory visits. So I’m well on my way to accomplishing the 20 or so meetings lined up for me by Friday.

Its four years since I was last here, and while I was expecting some change, I’ve been taken aback at just how much has happened in the intervening years. Of course some things remain the same too, from the traffic (and for anyone who’s ever tried to get around Colombo I need say no more), intense heat and colourful chaos of everyday life, to the warm welcome from everyone I’ve met. But there are differences too, including a high profile military presence with its omnipresent police checkpoints.

As for the apparel industry, perhaps the two biggest shifts are just how far its evolved from simply being a supplier to providing a more complete solution, taking responsibility for sourcing material and product development, designing and taking on logistics, and providing a vendor managed inventory.

Not only has the industry had to develop new skills, but it’s making the most of long-established ones too. The Garments without Guilt initiative feeds into consumer demand for products are ethically produced, and builds on Sri Lanka’s reputation for clothing that is made ethically, without the use of child or forced labour. This is something I’m hearing about everywhere I go, and it seems some exciting developments are also in the pipeline.


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