Blog: Leonie BarrieGarment workers still feeling pandemic impact

Leonie Barrie | 19 October 2020

An analysis of trade data on apparel imports into the US and EU appears to show that buyers cancelled orders worth at least US$16.2bn between April and June this year. The shortfall leaves massive arrears, with severe short and long-term impacts for workers and suppliers.

A separate survey of ready-made garment workers in Bangladesh has found that while many are still feeling the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, there have been improvements in some areas such as wage payments and virus prevention.  

There are also challenges for garment workers in the UK, where illegally low pay at some factories in the city of Leicester is calculated to have "robbed" them of more than GBP27m (US$35m) in lost earnings over the last three months.

Leather industry trade groups from around the world are calling for the suspension of the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (Higg MSI) score for leather to enable a review of the underlying methodologies and data.

While the Higg Co has also unveiled a new tool it claims will allow consumers and stakeholders alike to see the actual data behind statements about product sustainability for the first time.

Set up two years ago to give a boost to Central America's apparel production, the Utexa synthetic yarn plant in Honduras most recently played a pivotal role in US PPE supply chains. Navigating the Covid-19 pandemic has been a rollercoaster ride, its general director tells just-style – and one that proves the importance of collaboration.

And a perfect storm of innovation and opportunity means the Indian fashion and textile sectors are accelerating towards sustainability and circularity, according to a new report analysing the Indian supply chain from raw materials through to end-of-use.

In the US, retail sales growth accelerated in September with the fourth straight month of year-over-year gains – helped by a strong rebound in apparel.

But US retail bankruptcy filings and liquidations reached a record in the first half of 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic – positioning the year to see more bankruptcies filed than during the great recession of 2010.

Online fashion retailer Asos says it has emerged from the financial year well positioned for uncertainties that lie ahead, amid a GBP109m surge in profit and plans to launch a new own-label brand at a typically lower price point.

And Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing remains optimistic for 2021, having forecast a large increase in revenue and a considerable improvement in operating profit from all business segments in the second half.

Meanwhile, in other news, VF Corp has reshuffled its core and emerging brand leadership; chemical companies have forged a new alliance to drive uptake of sustainable solutions; and the coronavirus crisis has sped the adoption of digital technologies.

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