Blog: Leonie BarrieIs British garment making showing signs of revival?

Leonie Barrie | 11 April 2016

Despite years of denial, British garment making showed signs of a revival in the second half of 2015. Is the long-anticipated UK onshoring boom finally coming into view?

Apparel imports into the US bounced back in February, with all but one of the leading supplier countries booking growth, and six of those hitting double-digit gains. Vietnam led the field, with Cambodia and Indonesia also making the top three.

New figures also confirm Cambodia's garment and footwear exports continued to see strong growth during 2015, albeit it at a slower rate than the year before. Despite an increase in exports, garment prices overall remain on a downward trajectory – although those shipped to the European Union went up for the first time in four years.

However, Cambodia has also come in for criticism after its National Assembly approved a controversial draft trade union law that is causing concern over its alleged non-compliance with ILO conventions.

And excessive working hours, incorrect pay, trade union discrimination, sexual harassment, and unsafe working environments are just some of the issues uncovered at a number of Korean-owned garment factories in Myanmar, according to a new report.

The challenges facing the global apparel supply chain in the year ahead – and the ways technology can help tackle some of these issues – form the focus of just-style’s annual management briefing on apparel software trends. We also ask experts where firms should be focusing their investments now if they want to remain competitive, and look at what else is likely to be topping the technology agenda.

Meanwhile, March proved to be a challenging month for the few US apparel retailers who still report their monthly sales, with many hampered by the early timing of Easter this year. And the outlook for April is mixed as cold weather cools demand for spring clothing collections.

Struggling teen action sports retailer Pacific Sunwear of California has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a bid to lower its long-term debt and reduce costs.

L Brands, owner of the Victoria's Secret, Pink and La Senza brands, is to cut around 200 jobs as part of a restructuring of its online and catalogue businesses.

T-shirt and underwear maker Hanesbrands is taking full control of the Champion athletic apparel brand after agreeing to buy Champion Europe, which owns the Champion trademark in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

And turning around its clothing and home businesses will be the priority for Marks & Spencer, new CEO Steve Rowe has said, as the UK retailer revealed lower sales for the division in its fourth quarter.

In other news, Gap Inc’s comparable store sales fell for the twelfth month in a row in March; H&M is being urged to keep promises to make its Bangladeshi supplier factories safe; and Levi Strauss is to launch a collection made with regenerated nylon from waste materials such as fishing nets and spent carpets.

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