Blog: Leonie BarrieTailoring mass manufacturing to the individual

Leonie Barrie | 19 March 2018

As the fashion industry shifts towards proper omnichannel it requires an on-demand supply chain that combines customisation with the ability to restock shops more efficiently and respond to trends more quickly. Unmade is a fashion technology business that provides a digital solution to create customisation at an industrial scale.

Nearly five years on, and the words "Rana Plaza" can still invoke powerful outrage about the precarious conditions that garment workers in the developing world endure every day. But while preventing another Rana Plaza is a vital endeavour, a new book argues it is also important to consider the everyday ways in which garment workers' health and safety is under attack.

Adidas, meanwhile, is facing a complaint from labour rights groups for breaching OECD guidelines over the dismissal of workers from a former Indonesian shoe supplier – as the sporting goods giant continues to reject the accusations.

And the European Union (EU) has fired a warning shot over Cambodia's bows over concerns about declining democratic and human rights, and the rule of law in this key clothing exporter. The move means Cambodia's privileged access to European clothing markets could also be reined in.

US specialty clothing retailer Gap Inc is encouraging all 800 of its tier 1 supplier factories to pay garment workers using digital methods by 2020, with the aim of helping improve supply chain transparency and efficiency.

US sporting goods giant Nike has launched a search for new ideas to help it create better products but with less waste. Participants can either develop a new solution to advance the physical footwear recycling process or design new products using Nike Grind materials.

While some of the winners of the latest EUR1m (US$1.24m) Global Change Award from the H&M Foundation include custom-made clothes produced from decomposable mushroom roots, sustainable bio-textiles made from leftovers from food crop harvests, and a dissolvable thread.

At French bioplastics firm Carbios a breakthrough development is claimed with a new enzymatic technology process that enables polyester fabrics to be turned back into virgin state raw materials.

And a new organic certification programme, spearheaded by US outdoor clothing giant Patagonia, aims to improve fairness for farmers and workers, as well as address animal welfare and ecological land management.

Meanwhile in other news, President Trump's new tariffs on steel and aluminium could have an impact on US container ports; Reebok has launched the first running shoe built with its Fast Flexweave upper technology; Target has begun a two-week denim-exchange programme; and US apparel giant VF Corp is to acquire the Altra footwear brand.

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