Blog: Leonie BarrieInnovations to boost sustainability

Leonie Barrie | 5 December 2017

Hong Kong-based textile and apparel giant Esquel Group, the world's largest woven shirt maker, is pushing ahead with the pursuit of sustainable and holistic quality. The company is also continuing to invest in cutting-edge technology to reduce labour costs as well as boost efficiency and accuracy, as CEO John Cheh explains.

His comments came on the sidelines of the company’s annual Integral Conversation conference, which highlighted a number of innovations to boost sustainability in the textile and clothing sector and beyond.

Central American apparel exports are on the up thanks to rising US demand for high-performance synthetic activewear and ongoing uncertainty over Mexico's position in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

But Cambodian garment makers have urged international buyers to continue sourcing from the country amid fears the European Union (EU) may withdraw preferential trade terms in protest at a government crackdown on the main opposition party.

A separate report warns the potential negative impacts of the slowdown in clothing and textile exports from Cambodia need to be closely monitored – and that footwear is one of a few products helping the country's economy remain robust.

As part of a bid to boost Egypt's leather exports by 80% to reach US$1bn by 2020, the government has committed to modernise the sector and develop two dedicated manufacturing hubs – one of which will be geared to export markets.

And an international labour rights alliance has called on Swedish clothing retailer Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) to deliver on a promise made four years ago to pay a "fair living wage" to the garment workers in its supply chain.

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) is hoping its improved Higg Facility Environmental Module (Higg FEM) will be deployed globally at 20,000 apparel and textile factories and across 400 brands by the end of 2018.

And the Canadian government is seeking input from the country's apparel suppliers as it sets out to develop a set of guidelines for ethical sourcing.

Ahead of the vote on US tax reform proposals last week, we took a look at why the package finally gives US textile and apparel industries something to cheer about under the Trump administration.

And in other news, US retail giant Walmart has joined the Cotton Leads programme; shares in Billabong International soared on news it has received a takeover bid from Boardriders, the company behind rival Quiksilver; and third-quarter filings from US apparel and footwear brands and retailers have continued to roll in.

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