Blog: Leonie BarrieSourcing plans unwise to target TPP

Leonie Barrie | 16 November 2015

The release of the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement earlier this month coincided with a number of events showing how unpredictable the deal’s approval is likely to be. Not only does this raise several questions – but also points to the fact it would be foolish to make apparel sourcing decisions based on when the TPP might become effective.

One company that has committed around US$20m to two new facilities in Vietnam is Hong Kong based manufacturing giant Epic Group. But in a wide-ranging interview with just-style, CEO Ranjan Mahtani explains why TPP is not the main driver ­– and why automation and constant evolution are key.

And with productivity improvements among the benefits, Crystal Group now plans to expand its worker empowerment initiatives to 40,000 people in Cambodia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Vietnam over the next five years.

In Myanmar, last week’s election win by the National League for Democracy (NLD) is leading clothing industry executives to hope for a swift normalisation of trade relations, especially with the US.

And US apparel and footwear giant VF Corp has said it continues to investigate opportunities in East Africa, with plans to increase its sourcing base in the region.

For the first time in five years, cotton production is expected to be lower than consumption in 2015/16. Yet the amount of cotton held in stocks means a shortage is unlikely, one industry expert believes.

The use of pumice stones in denim finishing has environmental, economic and mechanical disadvantages. But a new technology piloted by Levi Strauss is seen as an important first step to solving this particular industry challenge.

There has long been talk of bringing textile and apparel manufacturing back to the UK – and the debate goes on. While education, cost, and compliance are key factors to consider, the consensus is that while garments can be made here, production is likely to be on a much smaller scale than back in its heyday.

Meanwhile, unseasonably warm weather, sluggish mall traffic, softer Halloween sales, lacklustre income gains, and a continued shift in spending to other products all weighed on US retailers' sales of autumn clothing in October.

And in other news, Under Armour is parting company with Terdema Ussery, the president of its global sports categories, after less than two months in the role; China’s next five-year plan is likely to focus on economic transformation and upgrading; and Coats has launched a new tool to help reduce lead times and costs in the colour design and approval processes.

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