Blog: Leonie BarrieHigher worker wages – who pays?

Leonie Barrie | 2 July 2018

This year has seen statutory minimum wage rises in a number of countries, with more still in the pipeline. Yet there continues to be a disconnect between buying departments and compliance teams when it comes to costing labour in price negotiations. So who should pay for a minimum wage increase? Two industry experts share their thoughts exclusively on just-style.

The latest thinking on CSR matters also puts forced labour at the forefront of issues impacting the apparel, textile and footwear sectors, while working hours are at the centre of attempts to increase transparency in supply chains. Progress is also underway on key harmonisation/convergence initiatives.

The price of cotton fell more than 10 cents a pound after getting caught in the crossfire of the the tit-for-tat trade war between the US and China. But after Trump trashed the American cotton industry: What happens now?

Trade wars between the US and China might be ramping up, but China's role within the global apparel supply chain is weakening – and retailers are increasingly turning to other countries for their clothing needs. So what does the future hold for 'Made in China'?

Jeans giant Levi Strauss & Co has also stepped into the fray, raising concerns over the impact on US jobs, the supply chain, and the cost to the consumer from a separate tit-for-tat tariff spat between the US and EU.

And the EU-Vietnam trade agreement (EVFTA) is moving closer to ratification after the two sides formally concluded a legal review of the document and completed discussions on an Investment Protection Agreement (IPA).

Shoppers in the UK are returning more than GBP7.044bn (US$9.31bn) of purchases every year – with fashion retailers hit hardest due to inconsistent sizing across brands.

In a bid to tackle the problem, six major British retailers including Tesco, New Look, River Island and Asos have signed up to the country’s first nationwide sizing survey in 17 years.

And the British Government has launched an inquiry to investigate the social and environmental impact of disposable so-called 'fast fashion', and the wider implications for the fashion supply chain.

A new digital guide has been launched in a bid to help brands and retailers fast track sustainable cotton sourcing across multiple standards.

While US outdoor clothing giant Patagonia has reintroduced wool into its product lines after three years, with stricter sourcing rules now in place.

But apparel retailers including H&M, Abercrombie & Fitch, Columbia Sportswear and Benetton have been accused of not doing enough to stop violence and worker abuse at an Indian clothing factory they all source from.

Meanwhile, in other news, non-tariff barriers could add 7% to the cost of clothing after Brexit; PVH Corp is to help select innovative new approaches to social and environmental issues in the fashion industry; and a platform that uses data analytics to predict volume for current and future orders was the winning solution at this year's Fung Group 'Hackathon'.

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