Blog: Leonie BarrieOlympics continue to dominate headlines

Leonie Barrie | 23 July 2012

With less than a week to go before the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games, it is not surprising that the event is dominating headlines - although perhaps not in the way the companies involved would have hoped.

Following outrage after it was revealed that Olympic uniforms designed by Ralph Lauren Corp for American athletes were made in China, the company has pledged that the uniforms it supplies for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games will be made in the US. And to hammer home the point, a bill called the 'Team USA Made in America Act' has been introduced.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) has also said it will investigate claims that Cambodian workers producing official Olympic merchandise on behalf of Adidas are being paid GBP10 (US$15.60) a week in basic wages.

But here at just-style we have also tried to take a positive look at the opportunities for sportswear brands and retailers to channel the Olympic spirit, including new innovations and the potential to boost sales.

Another fascinating debate running on just-style over the past week has focused on the real wage cost of clothing. It started with a look at labour costs in Bangladesh, asked why wages in the country remain so low, and offered some suggestions to help apparel sourcing companies calculate - and implement - a living wage.

But with little room left to manoeuvre on price, sourcing decisions depend on a whole range of different parameters - which is why apparel buyers continue to focus on the top 20 exporting countries. This is also why forecasts for new supply bases are usually wide of the mark.

Among the financial results released last week, VF Corp raised its full-year guidance after recording a 19.9% jump in second-quarter profit. But the owner of the North Face, Wrangler, Lee, and Nautica brands also reported a mixed performance in its jeanswear business.

And following its acquisition of UK men's wear tailor Gieves & Hawkes earlier this year, Hong Kong-based Trinity Ltd has outlined its aspirations for the British heritage brand. Among its intentions are plans to turn around the firm's domestic business, and expand into international markets.


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