Blog: Leonie BarrieRethinking supply chain models for speed

Leonie Barrie | 26 February 2018

Technology and social media have transformed consumers into veritable fashion industry insiders. No longer looking to retailers to direct them towards the newest hot looks, when consumers see something they want, even if it's on the runway, the expectation is that they will be able to buy it right then, not next season.

Here we look at some of the ways retailers and brands are rethinking their supply chain models to get their products to consumers faster.

Speed-to-market, rising labour costs, quality and compliance are among the issues facing UK apparel brands sourcing overseas. But while there is talk of a renaissance in domestic manufacturing, reshoring is unlikely to happen on a grand scale unless the challenge of skills shortages, ethics and cost can be addressed.

The latest 'Synthesis Report' from Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) shows that publicly reporting critical issues continues to drive positive change in garment factories – with 46% of factories now in compliance with all 21 critical working conditions.

The update comes as research project has given one of the most comprehensive pictures yet of the living and working conditions faced by female garment workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia and India.

Almost half of the 220 companies who signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh have now committed to the new agreement set to come into effect when the current programme expires in May. Here we list the signatories so far.

And the new ‘Connected’ platform from certification body Control Union Certification has successfully been able to map supply chains up to the origins of raw materials.

Sportswear and childrenswear saw the biggest gains in global sales in 2017 – and are set to remain key growth drivers through to 2022, according to new research.

Research also suggests Amazon is stealing apparel sales from the likes of Target, Macy's, JC Penney and Kohl's, as the online retail behemoth ramps up efforts to grow its share of the fashion market.

But US speciality retailer Gap Inc has revealed Jeff Kirwan, president and CEO of its namesake brand, is to leave the company.

In other news, VF Corp is planning to sell its Nautica brand; Kering and the London College of Fashion are offering an open-access course in luxury fashion and sustainability; and Li & Fung has a new head for its childrenswear platform and department stores in North America.

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