Blog: Leonie BarrieThe challenge of navigating a rapidly-changing landscape

Leonie Barrie | 27 November 2017

Faced with a paradigm shift in everything from the way products are sold to the tools and technologies that make them, sporting goods brands, retailers and manufacturers are still trying to work out the best way to navigate this rapidly-changing landscape.

The key message from the fifth World Manufacturers Forum organised by the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI) was that a host of new technologies and disruptions are coming at the sportswear industry, and that businesses should not underestimate their impact. In other words, disrupt – don't be disrupted.

A new report also agrees that companies need to re-engineer their processes and supporting systems if they are to achieve the new levels of agility required to respond to changes in traditional sourcing, trade and commerce networks.

African governments are increasingly waking up to the fact that the continent could be a 'new frontier' for garment sourcing, export associations and manufacturers have told just-style. But a key challenge is to develop upstream as well as downstream supplies.

With greater political and economic stability returning to Egypt nearly seven years after the uprising that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak, the country's garment exports are also rebounding. The government is pushing expansion of the sector, with its Vision 2025 policy aiming to create one million jobs in the textile and garment industry.

Leading Sri Lankan garment exporter Brandix is launching a joint venture with synthetic materials manufacturer Best Pacific of Hong Kong to produce warp knit synthetic fabric and webbing in Sri Lanka.

And the first of 150 "mini" garment factories has opened in a Sri Lankan village originally set up for displaced people, as part of a US$1.8m national apparel initiative implemented by the government.

Chinese textile major Shandong Ruyi has bought a majority stake in Israel-based tailored clothing manufacturer Bagir Group, marking the third acquisition for the company in the last two months.

And a year-long global project on improving working conditions in factories making Disney-branded products around the world has successfully trained 201 managers from 115 licensee companies that in turn contract some 2,447 factories.

Indeed, the hold that ethical sourcing and sustainability has over the US fashion and apparel industries is being cemented more by by changing investor requirements than by consumers, a major US fashion industry conference has heard.

Yet while wages in developing Asia's garment and footwear industry have increased in recent years, they continue to remain low overall – particularly for women – a new analysis suggests.

Meanwhile, in other news, H&M has again been accused of incinerating unused clothes instead of recycling them; Under Armour is parting company with the head of its struggling footwear division; and sporting goods retailer Decathlon has completed a pilot to transport its goods using a dedicated freight train from China to France.

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