Blog: Beth WrightPandemic sees garment workers underpaid by up to $5.8bn

Beth Wright | 17 August 2020

A new report has claimed garment and footwear factory workers globally could have been underpaid by as much as US$5.79bn for the months of March, April, and May.

The UK Government has launched a new programme to help retailers including Marks & Spencer, Primark, Monsoon and VF Corporation to strengthen their global supply chains by supporting workers in developing countries during the coronavirus pandemic.

As apparel brands and retailers rebuild their post-pandemic supply chains, now is the perfect time to rethink how they can embed sustainability into their development, sourcing and distribution decisions.

Hong Kong based manufacturing giant Crystal International Group has been scaling up its use of 3D virtual sampling, and expects to use the technology in 80% of the products that it develops by next year.

British luxury clothing and accessories brand Burberry has opened its first "social retail store" in Shenzhen, China's technology hub, as a way to attract young and tech-savvy consumers, save profits, and stay ahead of the competition in pandemic times.  

Ralph Lauren Corporation has invested in a sustainable material science start-up that turns plant-based, upcycled fibres – such as cotton waste – into high-performance materials.

And Coach brand owner Tapestry Inc has embarked on a new multi-year turnaround plan to cut costs and focus on digital growth as shoppers continue to shift from stores to e-commerce.

Meanwhile, a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), including face masks, triggered by the global coronavirus pandemic has prompted US domestic textile companies to mobilise their production facilities and supply chains to fill the void. We take a look at how Vidalia Mills rose to the challenge.

Latest data from the World Trade Organization (WTO) offers an insight into fashion companies' evolving production and sourcing strategies – and points to new patterns of world textiles and apparel trade in 2019. Here are five key trends to watch.

And investors are being urged to take steps to identify, prevent and mitigate risks in portfolio companies to ensure they have no direct links to human rights abuses in China's Xinjiang region. The warning comes as the US issued a new import detention order on garments produced by the Hero Vast Group.

Elsewhere, despite months of objections by Cambodia's garment and footwear sectors, the European Union's (EU) decision to partially withdraw the country's preferential access to the EU market under the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade scheme is now in effect.

In retail, Stein Mart has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a move that will see it likely to close most – if not all – of its 281 brick-and-mortar stores.

While sales at US clothing retailers continued to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in July, albeit growing more slowly than the month before.

In the UK, struggling department store group Debenhams has announced plans to cut 2,500 jobs across its store network and distribution centre as part of its latest cost-cutting drive.

And fashion retailer New Look is seeking a buyer and is preparing to launch another company voluntary agreement (CVA) as it tries to restructure its business.

In other news, Outland Denim is to open its Cambodian manufacturing facilities to other brands and establish an in-house standard for sustainability, and scientists in Japan have succeeded in developing artificial spider silk that could be upscaled for factory production with major implications for the apparel industry.


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