Blog: Leonie BarrieSportswear initiatives start to take shape

Leonie Barrie | 26 September 2016

The results of two highly-anticipated initiatives in the sportswear sphere were revealed last week: the launch of Under Armour’s new UAS lifestyle brand and the first pair of running shoes created at Adidas’s Speedfactory manufacturing facility.

For Under Armour the move is a step to broaden its appeal to a more mainstream audience, and raise its current 1% share of the substantial $15bn sportswear market. The line includes men's and women's apparel, accessories and shoes including trench coats, parkas, sweatshirts, sweatpants, track pants and leggings, priced from $49 to $1,500.

The new high performance Adidas Futurecraft MFG (Made for Germany) shoe, meanwhile, was produced at a facility that uses robotic technology in automated modular production cells to combine fast response with the flexibility to offer products that are uniquely customised for individual consumers. The shoe is part of an initial test run from the company with the view of rolling out to other categories in the future.

Another move has seen fashion brand Zara launch a new eco-friendly collection as part of efforts by parent company Inditex to strengthen its sustainability commitments. The new Join Life clothing line is made with forest and animal friendly materials, such as organic cotton, recycled wool and Tencel.

Widespread disruptions in freight shipments worldwide continue to drag on after the bankruptcy of Hanjin Shipping. And a group of 120 US organisations, including retailers and manufacturers, is now urging the US Commerce Secretary to find a way to clear up the confusion.

Modifications to the tariff classifications of many woven apparel products to cover recreational performance outerwear have also had a knock-on – and confusing – impact on products such as jeans.

But trade ministers appear determined to push ahead with two trade deals being discussed between the European Union (EU) and the US and Canada, despite widespread protests.

Myanmar garment industry exports soared by around 20% last year, while footwear exports also surged as the Southeast Asia country gained new sourcing partners and invested in high-end manufacturing. The latest figures shared with just-style by the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA) showed garment exports reached around US$1.80bn in 2015, up from $1.70bn the year before.

Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has again called on the US to extend duty and quota-free access to its apparel exports, suggesting the move would help build a larger and more empowered workforce, and support the fight against extremism and terrorism.

Her comments come as a new inspection checklist developed to collect information on Bangladesh ready-made garment factories marks another major step towards building a modern and transparent labour inspectorate in the country.

Global suppliers, including those in the apparel and footwear sectors, are also being targeted with a new $300m international trade finance platform that will acquire up to 120-day trade receivables from small-to-medium enterprises, particularly in China and Southeast Asia, who produce and export goods for sale to Western buyers.

And in other news, PVH Corp is channelling $1m to Save the Children programmes in sub-Saharan Africa; environmental hazards and child labour are being tackled through a new initiative in Haiti; and a conference in China later this year will promote safer chemical management amongst textile and footwear suppliers.

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