Blog: Leonie BarrieIndustry challenges and opportunities

Leonie Barrie | 9 April 2013

Always a good barometer of the latest challenges and opportunities facing the apparel industry and its supply chain, this year's Prime Source Forum in Hong Kong was no exception.

The over-riding message was that apparel sourcing has finally reached a critical turning point. Instead of continuing to chase the lowest costs around the globe, the industry focus is now shifting to collaboration between retailers and their vendors, and the creation of an integrated value chain.

There was also a growing awareness that the supply chain can contribute to improved efficiency and a competitive edge - and a call for the industry to collaborate when it comes to navigating the complicated mix of legal requirements, standards and certification schemes for managing chemicals.

Following its recent acquisition of Warnaco, apparel giant PVH has spoken about the lack of investment at the company. While there has been significant growth within Warnaco, largely driven by acquisitions of franchisees and licensees, a lot of those acquisitions weren't fully integrated into the business, it says.

Meanwhile, Inditex has expressed surprise over sweatshop allegations at a supplier in Argentina producing clothing for its Zara fashion brand. An Argentinian worker rights group claims immigrants and children have been working in "degrading" conditions.

And a recent surge in cotton prices could be due to concerns about a tightening of the balance between supply and demand outside China, as the country continues to build reserves. Cotton prices edged up to an 11-month high of 98.85 cents per pound on 18 March.

In our management briefing this month, just-style canvasses the views of software experts on the challenges facing the global apparel supply chain in 2013 and the ways technology can help tackle some of these issues. We also ask where firms should be focusing their investments now if they want to remain competitive into the future.


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