Blog: Leonie BarrieTackling transparency and traceability

Leonie Barrie | 5 September 2016

The ongoing challenge of tackling transparency and traceability across global supply chains cropped up again last week, with the launch of a new initiative to try to eliminate forced labour from cotton and yarn production.

'YESS: Yarn Ethically & Sustainably Sourced' verifies that yarn spinners are only using cotton produced with ethical practices, and is being endorsed by apparel brands and retailers including Adidas, BJ's Wholesale Club, Woolworths Holdings and Hudson Bay Company.

A separate viewpoint suggests that with traceability playing a key role in addressing the rising importance of social compliance, now is the time for companies to review their traceability strategies and confirm they're armed with comprehensive product information across the supply network.

Even though US Secretary of State John Kerry has urged Bangladesh to tackle ongoing security issues, apparel industry executives have told just-style it remains business usual in the country, despite recent terrorist attacks and wider fears of along-term impact on the sector.

Retailers are also bracing for massive disruption as they head into their busiest season after South Korea's Hanjin Shipping Co – the world's seventh-largest container shipper – filed for bankruptcy protection last week.

And faced with excess polyester capacity in China, global fibres trade is set to be reshaped over the next few years. We look at the likely impact on investment decisions and polyester strategy for both buyers and producers worldwide

Following in the footsteps of neighbouring Honduras, El Salvador's textiles and apparel industry will also set out a 15-year growth strategy later this year in a bid to lift its fortunes. Plans include developing new high-performance sportswear niches to win new full-package customers.

Peru's struggling textiles and apparel industry could lose thousands of jobs if the government fails to stem a flood of sub- or undervalued Asian imports, an industry association says.

And Jordanian clothing exporters are unhappy the EU has insisted they employ Syrian refugees in order to benefit from special market access.

However, the first comprehensive survey of Myanmar's labour force – including child labour – has been welcomed as a tool to help inform policy and planning strategies.

Apparel giant PVH Corp is rolling out what it says is a more comprehensive corporate responsibility strategy to address social and environmental issues by placing more emphasis on improving worker and manufacturing standards.

And the non-profit H&M Foundation is looking for the next tranche of sustainable innovations to reinvent the fashion industry as part of its second EUR1m (US$1.1m) Global Change Award.

However, while more favourable hot and dry weather and an uptick in consumer confidence resulted in a bounce-back in overall US same-store sales in August, apparel retailers saw their monthly sales dented by an increase in spending on technology and travel.

One way to overcome stalling clothing sales is to ensure product buying cycles are more flexible, frequent and responsive to consumer needs, and that merchandising is less vulnerable to the vagaries of the weather.

Meanwhile, in other news Gerber Technology has been sold to private equity firm American Industrial Partners (AIP); Gap Inc is assessing the damage after a massive blaze at its Fishkill distribution centre; and working hours and wages are the biggest compliance challenges facing footwear factories in China and Vietnam.

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