Blog: Leonie BarrieLikely shifts in the sourcing landscape in 2017

Leonie Barrie | 16 January 2017

Continuing our look at what lies ahead for the apparel industry and its supply chain in 2017, the panel of industry experts consulted by just-style last week tackled likely shifts in the sourcing landscape.

They also discussed what apparel firms should be doing now if they want to remain competitive into the future. Diversified supply chains, new technologies in both sourcing and product development, and a focus on speed, productivity and innovation are among the strategies that will help to separate the winners from the losers.

And the final part of our Outlook 2017 report focused on other issues the apparel sector should be keeping a close eye on in the year ahead. Not surprisingly, the future of trade policy and free trade agreements were top of the list, along with finding opportunities to achieve growth, health and safety, and preparing for the unexpected.

For the past six years China's clothing producers have retained their dominance of world apparel manufacturing despite widespread forecasts of imminent collapse. However, Mike Flanagan believes China's apparel exports now face a serious threat – from the Chinese government.

Indeed, China – the largest supplier of apparel to the US – recorded a small increase in shipments year-on-year in November, but a decline on the month earlier. Overall, the results reflect general import trends during the month.

Apparel sourcing problems should be addressed with speed, clarity and honesty in order to achieve the best possible resolution, according to a new report. 'When Things Go Wrong' states that successful problem resolution requires the quick and clear delivery of bad news, a realistic action plan, and the assessment of future risk.

Bangladesh's garment manufacturers continue to insist to just-style that business goes on as usual despite a US security warning of Islamic State (IS) terrorists targeting clothing buyers in the country's most secure zones.

And the European Commission has proposed that the European Union (EU) removes duties on 66% of tariff lines imported from Sri Lanka, including textiles and clothing, to restore its GSP+ beneficiary status.

Also in Sri Lanka, apparel and fabric manufacturing conglomerate MAS Holdings is preparing to begin operations at its second industrial park, located in Giriulla in the northwest of the country.

And retailer Marks & Spencer has finally booked like-for-like sales growth in clothing, thanks to a focus on value and quality rather than "reactionary and desperate" discounting. Not surprisingly, analysts have praised the UK retailer's first positive clothing performance in two years.

Meanwhile in other news, The Limited has shuttered all of its stores across the US; Unifi is expanding the distribution of its Repreve recycled fibre into Vietnam; Gap Inc is piloting an app to help customers virtually ‘try on’ clothing via a smartphone; and a new mini garment RFID tag is virtually invisible when sewn into clothing.

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