Blog: Beth WrightThe next step in responsible sourcing

Beth Wright | 1 July 2019

An overhaul of the auditing process on factory safety and working conditions is long overdue – and a new initiative could offer the solution. The Social & Labour Convergence Program's Converged Assessment Framework enables apparel brands and retailers to leverage one set of verified social and labour data, reduce the amount of money spent on duplicated auditing, and instead free up resources to improve efficiency and factory working conditions. SLCP executive director Janet Mensink, and Peter Higgins, senior director of global responsible sourcing at VF Corp,tell just-style more.

Meanwhile, despite efforts to crack down on modern slavery in supply chains, some 24.9m people remain trapped in forced labour worldwide. Yet there are a number of red flags that brands and retailers should be aware of – as well as steps they can take to mitigate the problem, including mapping labour supply chains, adopting an Employer Pays Principle, and assessing recruitment agencies and their practices.

And the US continues to take a strong stand against the use of forced labour in cotton production by keeping Turkmenistan at the lowest possible ranking in its annual anti-trafficking report.

In Japan, retail giant Fast Retailing is to invest US$1.6m in a new programme for female workers in garment factories in Asia as part of a partnership with UN Women.

While the Netherlands' C&A Foundation is seeking prototype initiatives or research programmes to investigate the financial, health or social impacts of circular fashion business models on women and vulnerable groups.

With many companies still struggling to find a way forward on sustainability, Jackie Lewis, senior consultant at apparel size and fit specialist Alvanon, suggests there needs to be a hook from a business point of view to motivate change and sets out five steps she sees as key.

In the world of trade, with the Trump Administration mulling up to 25% additional duties on all US imports from China, Matthijs Crietee, secretary general of the International Apparel Federation (IAF), argues that even the threat of new trade barriers is likely to have a long-term impact on complex global clothing supply chains.

While the trade association representing US retailers claims American consumers would pay $4.4bn more each year for apparel and $2.5bn more for footwear if the US goes ahead with the increase.

Ahead of any potential tariff hike we take a look at the products on the hit-list.

Before her testimony against the proposed Section 301 tariffs – which would include all clothing and footwear – Julia Hughes, president of the United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA), explained why the negative impact of tariffs on China would not just hurt brands and retailers, but also their global supply chains.

Elsewhere, the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) was signed on Sunday (30 June), after clearing another hurdle on its way to coming into force.

While India's new Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government is planning to increase the country's minimum wage rates – a move that could damage the current cost advantages enjoyed of Indian apparel exporters, an industry body has warned.

In other news, Sears' parent company Transform Holdco has inked a new strategic supply chain partnership with Li & FungH&M has taken part in the pilot of a new carbon neutral ocean fuel product launched by global logistics company Maersk; and the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM) has released a new set of standards for ethical supply chains.

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