Blog: Leonie BarrieIndustry outlook positive but disruptive

Leonie Barrie | 11 September 2017

How is the global apparel sourcing landscape changing? According to executives at last month’s MAGIC fashion trade show in the US, "speed-to-market," "product differentiation" and "inventory control" are some of the most popular buzzwords. Also on the agenda: Vietnam continues to lure US firms, the competition is intensifying between western hemisphere supply chains and factories in Asia, and automation of apparel manufacturing is coming.

Tapping into the need for speed, Nike is to make around 745 job cuts in its home state of Oregon as part of the US sportswear giant's broad restructuring announced over the summer.

Apparel retailer Gap Inc is to close 200 underperforming Gap and Banana Republic stores over the next three years as it looks to invest in other areas of the business to drive growth and capitalise on the value segment.

And yogawear retailer Lululemon Athletica sees further scope to dramatically improve speed and flexibility in how the brand brings product to market as part of its ongoing supply chain endeavours.

Also tapping into industry trends by helping improve production quality, eliminate reporting time lags, enable faster and more accurate decision-making, a new quality management tool that uses powerful data analytics to minimise defects in apparel manufacturing has been developed by the technology arm of Sri Lankan clothing major Hirdaramani Group – and field-tested in its factories. 

The Vietnamese government has set out plans to shift the country's clothing manufacturing sector from its current low-cost model to an added value industry that includes design and branding.

And Bangladesh's apparel makers are pressing ahead with establishing a separate factory inspection and remediation body, which would operate after existing international health and safety initiatives expire in 2018.

Georgetown University has also struck a new licensing agreement with sporting giant Nike that allows access to its supplier factories.

And a survey of the 140 Chinese textile manufacturers has found companies are still struggling to tackle water wastage issues within the industry, due to knowledge gaps and the high costs involved with going green.

As the retail landscape becomes more complex and challenging, the high street continues to lose out to the online giants – which is why retailers must be nimble to keep up with the ever-evolving consumer demands.

As recovery efforts continue in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, US retailers have been bracing themselves for the fallout from Hurricane Irma. Early estimates last week suggested the potential economic impact for lost sales in the consumer/retail sector will be worse than that caused by Harvey, totalling US$1.45bn.

Meanwhile, in other news, a former Gap Inc clothing boss is leading a company producing what is said to be the world's first plant-free fibre; a probe is being urged into claims GOTS-certified cotton from India contains Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO); and Gymboree Corp expects to emerge from Chapter 11 by the end of the month.

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