Blog: Leonie BarrieEthiopia clothing and textile sector expanding

Leonie Barrie | 25 July 2016

Ethiopia's flagship industrial park in Hawassa city, south of the capital Addis Ababa, has finally opened, dedicated solely to the textile and apparel sector.

The newly built US$250m facility will offer 37 factory units on a 300-hectare plot – and, as reported on just-style earlier this year, will produce clothing for US giant PVH Corp, owner of the Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein brands.

Ethiopia's growing clothing and textile sector is expanding following a pledge from the World Bank to spend US$250m in financing Ethiopian government plans to build seven industrial parks over the next five years.

But there was bad news for competitor Bangladesh, which has been denied re-entry into the US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade programme for a third year, despite the country's insistence it has made progress in boosting worker rights and improving workplace safety.

And Pakistan's trade deficit widened significantly in its last fiscal year, new data shows, with exports showing a steeper decline than imports.

Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) and US are taking legal action against China over export restrictions on raw materials that could have implications for the garment and textile industry. The actions cover antimony, indium, magnesia, copper, cobalt, graphite, lead, tantalum, talc and tin, many of which are used to make products including polyester fabric as well as metallised yarns, buttons and zippers.

As the UK government prepares the ground for new post-Brexit free trade deals, we evaluate the potential impact on the garment industry of the first proposed pacts with Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The fast fashion model, in all its guises, is ensuring some retailers thrive in spite of challenging market conditions. We take a closer look at some of the secrets of its success.

US apparel giant VF Corporation, owner of the North Face, Lee and Timberland brands, has lowered its revenue guidance for the year amid a "challenging environment" in the second quarter. But the company also says it is building a "solid roadmap" for sustainability as it continues to make strides on its renewable energy goals.

Spanish fashion giant Inditex has signed an exclusive agreement with cellulosic fibre producer Lenzing to manufacture premium raw materials from textile waste as part of its commitment to the circular economy. The news comes as Lenzing tests a new version of its Tencel fibre based on waste cotton fabrics.

The organic cotton market is continuing its upward trajectory, while leading apparel brands and retailers are carefully balancing their use of a range of preferred fibres and materials in order to achieve the best sustainability results, according to two new reports.

And German sportswear brand Puma has set new sustainability targets for the next five-years, shifting its focus deeper into the supply chain.

A number of UK-based high street brands including Primark, Topshop and Asos have pledged to keep down out of all their future collections in the wake of an investigation that exposed violations at goose farms in China.

UK consumer confidence has plummeted to a 12-month low as fear of price rises and the uncertainty following the EU referendum take hold, with spend on clothing expected to bear the brunt. The forecast comes as UK retail sales saw their largest month-on-month decline for six months in June, with clothing the worst performer.

Lacklustre consumer interest in clothing in the US also meant this was the only sector to see retail sales declines in June.

But online retail giant Amazon sold more than 1m pairs of shoes during its annual Prime Day shopping event – with figures suggesting around 12% of all deals were in men's and women's fashions.

Meanwhile in other news, Kmart is launching a new value-priced athleisure footwear line; JCPenney has promoted its CEO Marvin R Ellison to chairman; and Target Corp has hired Apple exec Ben Cook to lead its global logistics, inventory allocation and replenishment.

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