Blog: Leonie BarrieReflecting on Rana Plaza

Leonie Barrie | 29 April 2019

Last week marked the sixth anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh – with just-style taking a step-by-step look at the changes that have been made to improve worker and building safety within the country's ready-made garment industry.

While many fashion brands and retailers have codes of conducts that their suppliers should follow – one of the key areas that needs urgent reform is how they do business across their supply chains, a new report asserts.

And brands shifting to new sourcing markets as a result of rising uncertainty over trade policies, mass migration, and cybersecurity have been identified among the biggest supply chain risks facing firms during 2019.

One proposed change on the trade front is the US-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA) – and we’ve taken a look at the implications for the textile and apparel sector.

February is historically the slowest month when it comes to US apparel imports, and this year was no exception – with a lull as retailers prepared to replenish stocks for the spring season and factories in Asia shut down for the Lunar New Year. One surprise, however, was India emerging at the head of the pack with a double-digit increase in shipments during the month.

US specialty apparel retailer Gap Inc has suggested separating its sourcing and tech/IT systems could be one of the largest sticking points in the planned spin-off of its Old Navy brand.

The company has also set new brand-specific targets for Banana Republic and Old Navy to accelerate the company's use of more sustainable materials in apparel production and reduce the environmental impacts of product manufacturing.

Adidas and Reebok remain at the top of the latest release of an index that monitors and ranks high street clothing brands on transparency across their value chains – and are joined this year by outdoor specialist Patagonia.

And Swedish apparel giant Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) is to list details such as production country, supplier and factory names and addresses for each of its garments sold in-store and online.

Over the last few years, there's been a lot of compelling information demonstrating the importance of a brand or organisation's purpose. Roian Atwood, director of sustainability for Wrangler and Lee jeans, discusses the methodologies involved in discovering brand purpose – and how it has been put into practice at Wrangler.

In other news, Debenhams has launched a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) that would shutter 22 locations by 2020; Vietnam's MXP JSC is investing US$16m in a new high-tech factory; the proposed merger between Sainsbury's and Asda has been blocked; and the World Bank has warned Cambodia’s economic growth could slow on uncertainty over the loss of preferential access to the EU.

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