Blog: Leonie BarrieThe disruption of digitisation

Leonie Barrie | 21 May 2018

There's currently a lot of talk about how the digitisation of key processes along the clothing supply chain can bring benefits ranging from faster decision-making to improved efficiency, transparency and compliance. At Helly Hansen and VF Corporation, digitising the quality process is disrupting the traditional concept of quality control – and paving the way for a move from inspection towards in-process quality management.

As part of its bid to help fashion and apparel companies succeed as they step into the 'Industry 4.0' era, technology specialist Lectra has also offered a sneak preview of what it claims is the first cloud-connected digital cutting solution for the apparel sector.

Digital trends are also impacting at retail – and here we set out six areas for retailers to focus on over the next year if they want to grow their presence digitally.

There are also several steps companies can take to improve corporate reporting and transparency on human rights – after a new ranking found a lack of meaningful engagement from firms including Macy's, Kohl's and Under Armour.

And Burberry, H&M, Nike, Stella McCartney and Gap have been named as the core partners of a new initiative to develop sustainable solutions to some of the biggest issues faced by the fashion industry.

A new agreement between the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Istanbul Apparel Exporters' Association (IHKIB) aims to create formal and decent work for Syrian refugees in Turkey's garment industry.

While unions have launched a campaign aimed at securing better wages and rights for workers in Ethiopia.

There are also renewed calls for a decent wage for workers in Bangladesh amid claims workers in the country's US$28bn garment industry receive the lowest pay in Asia.

But Bangladesh has overtaken China and India in ethical compliance in the apparel sector, a new survey suggests, thanks to improved workplace safety following pressure from international inspection and remediation agencies in the years following Rana Plaza.

And in Myanmar, a higher minimum wage came into effect last week, accompanied by questions as to whether the rise will be absorbed by international buyers.

A smartphone game has also been developed to teach the country’s garment factory workers about workplace safety and labour laws.

Nine leading textile dye and chemical companies are calling for the industry to align behind one standard to eliminate hazardous chemicals from the supply chain, voicing concerns the ZDHC Foundation may not be the best body to drive change.

Trade hearings in Washington last week on proposed US tariffs on Chinese goods divided opinion between the US textile industry on the one side, and US apparel and footwear brands and importers on the other.

Groups representing apparel and footwear brands and importers put the case for fashion products to be left off the list, while textile organisations pushed for apparel end products to be included in any retaliatory tariff. It now seems the possible trade war is on hold while the US and China pursue a broader deal.

And in other news, Rockport Group has become the latest shoe company to file for bankruptcy; Marks & Spencer, Next, Primark and Mango have joined the mohair ban; and the US state of Connecticut has shelved plans for microfibre labelling in garments.

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