Blog: Hannah AbdullaThe key trends reshaping apparel sourcing in 2021

Hannah Abdulla | 25 January 2021

The clothing industry and its supply chains were riddled with problems long before Covid-19 – but it took a global pandemic to push them to the fore. Many companies are already changing the way they operate, and it's clear the ramifications will continue well into 2021 and beyond.

How is the sourcing landscape likely to shift in 2021, and what can apparel firms and their suppliers do to stay ahead, remain competitive and build resilience for the future? Click on the following link to find out more. Outlook 2021 – What next for apparel sourcing?

After the rollercoaster ride of the previous US administration, Joe Biden's long-awaited inauguration could signal more stability for an apparel industry that has been through the mill over the last four years.

The US has also decided it will not impose tariff increases on goods from Vietnam for the time being, bringing relief to footwear and apparel brands and retailers across the country.

One of the final moves of the outgoing Trump administration was to declare that the Chinese government is committing genocide against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.

Non-enforceable initiatives and voluntary commitments by garment brands have failed to protect workers' human rights, according to a new report that is calling for mandatory and comprehensive human rights due diligence covering the entire value chain.

Meanwhile, Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA), Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), and the Worker-driven Social Responsibility Network (WSRN) have joined forces to launch a new website that outlines a new approach for an enforceable, binding agreement between global brands and unions on the payment of living wages to garment workers.

A collaborative review into Marks & Spencer's footwear and food supply chains has identified a number of human rights and worker well-being issues, including inadequate sick pay and a lack of effective worker voice, as the UK food, homeware and fashion retailer looks to pinpoint areas to address.

Nine industry associations representing the apparel and textile industry across six countries in Asia have joined forces to launch a new initiative aimed at securing better purchasing practices for the sector.

On the environmental sustainability front, US industrial sustainability company ReCircled, which serves the textile, apparel and footwear sectors, has acquired Circularity, a digital sustainability intelligence technology firm.

Denim companies in Tunisia are pushing forward with investment and initiatives to create a sustainable circular economy making high quality jeans from recycled fabrics.

And made-to-measure jeans maker Unspun has developed its most sustainable pair of jeans, which are designed in line with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's Jeans Redesign initiative and feature a scannable QR code to share key circularity data with resellers and recyclers.

US advocacy group, The US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), has launched a campaign urging states to stop fashion companies from destroying unsold clothing.

While the European Commission has published a roadmap for textiles strategy in a bid to strengthen the sector against the backdrop of the coronavirus crisis.

And a group of fashion, business and economic experts are joining forces to push the UK government to ensure the fashion and manufacturing industries aren't overlooked post-Brexit and mid-pandemic when it comes to import costs, the freedom of movement of people and goods, and retaining garment worker skills.

On the deals front, Hong Kong-listed Viva China Holdings, a sports conglomerate headed by athlete Li Ning, has agreed to pay GBP51m for a 51% stake in LionRock Capital Partners, the private equity firm that has acquired British shoe brand Clarks.

And Marks & Spencer is reportedly looking to onboard Joules, Phase Eight, Hobbs, and Seasalt as its next third-party brands.

German footwear brand Birkenstock is reportedly mulling a sale of the business, which could fetch more than EUR4bn (US$4.8bn), according to people familiar with the matter.

In other news, Burberry's increased digital sales and impressive Asia-Pacific (APAC) performance softened the damage from store closures and decreased tourism in its third quarter.

And British retail tycoon Phillip Green's Arcadia Group is understood to be shutting a further 31 stores in a move that could result in more than 700 job losses.

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