Blog: Leonie BarrieSourcing execs less stressed about cost

Leonie Barrie | 24 July 2017

The impact of trade protectionism, increasing market competition from e-commerce, and supply chain risk are the top concerns for US fashion industry executives in 2017, a new survey has found, overtaking more traditional worries like cost.

Other findings point to an emerging 'China plus Vietnam plus Many' sourcing model, and more weight given to social compliance and sustainability in sourcing decisions.

Exemplifying their concerns are preparations for formal talks to renegotiate the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the US, Canada and Mexico. We take an in-depth look at key issues for textile and apparel supply chains, including the latest development that has seen the US set out its roadmap for the discussions.

Delayed shipments, rising labour costs, quality claims and compliance issues are just some of the challenges that sourcing managers have to contend with. Add in the need for faster speed to market and 'buy now/wear now' demands, and it's not surprising that some UK fashion brands and retailers are looking to buy closer to home. A recent industry event considered both the opportunities and the challenges for local or near-sourcing.

The digital revolution also means consumers today are in control. With endless options for where to shop, when to shop, what to buy, what price to pay, and how to receive it, customer loyalty erodes each time expectations are not properly met. Is on-demand manufacturing a game changer? And how can you stay agile in an on-demand economy?

A recent report on just-style described as a "missed opportunity" the distribution of a Vietnam-made backpack at the launch of a new multi-million dollar initiative intended to develop US-made high-tech fabrics. But with the article's value overwhelmingly generated in the US, perhaps this reflects the way supply chains are likely to evolve in the future.

Leather exporters in the north Indian production hub of Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh are facing closure of their tanneries over environmental concerns – on top of existing challenges that include trying to overcome the shortage of raw hides and loss of business to Brazilian companies.

And the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) has opened its first garment manufacturing training institute in the country in a bid to fill the industry's skills gap.

Meanwhile in other news, new quick-dry cotton fabrics have been developed for active and outdoor wear; Puma is trialling a smart warehouse; Primark has recalled thousands of men's flip flops found to contain a cancer-causing chemical; and the next World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry annual Manufacturers Forum will look at digital and automated businesses of the future.

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