Blog: Leonie BarrieThe rise and fall of Bangladesh?

Leonie Barrie | 17 July 2017

The rise of Bangladesh's garment export industry has been nothing less than spectacular – and until recently it appeared that nothing could stop its growth.

But things are no longer going well for Bangladesh when it comes to US garment imports; and we take a closer look at why the country has been left behind as its competitors have moved forward.

The death of 13 people following a boiler explosion earlier this month at the Multifabs factory in Bangladesh has also prompted questions about why the country's garment making sector still seems so unsafe. But poverty and illness pose even bigger threats to Bangladeshi workers.

The process of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement is getting underway, and looming large over the proceedings is the question of whether or not NAFTA been good or bad for the US textile and apparel industries. A deep dive suggests the answer is muddled.

Instead of withdrawing from NAFTA, the US should seek to improve its competitiveness and flexibility, according to apparel giant VF Corp. The owner of brands including Timberland, The North Face and Wrangler operates its own factories in Mexico, and sources and manufactures more products in the country than most of its peers.

But a key US initiative set up as an incubator of new technologies and new US jobs in the textile industry exemplified many of the issues still facing the sector when it distributed Vietnamese-made backpacks at its launch event.

Around 2,000 young people in Kenya are set to receive training in the clothing industry thanks to a new pilot programme backed by the US government to help address the skills gap that currently hinders growth in the country's apparel sector.

Finding the right supplier and creating a long-term relationship is something everyone in the fashion industry aspires to. It is the formula for creating a successful business – but it's also remarkably elusive. Here we set out some tips for anyone in the industry who wants to find a new factory, but isn't sure what to look for.

We also look at whether supply chains are ready to go "beyond" audits to manage ethical, social, and environmental compliance with a network of partners that needs no policing and little extra governance. A new report suggests this is still a long way off for many fashion brands and retailers.

Ethical performance in the textile and apparel industry has been slipping since the start of 2017, while the textiles sector remains the worst for inspection failure rates,according to a new analysis of supplier audit statistics.

But UK supermarket retailer Tesco has committed to begin the process of eliminating hazardous chemicals from its clothing supply chain, as well as releasing a complete list of its suppliers.

With a history in shoemaking that goes back almost 200 years, footwear giant Clarks is about to take a step into the future with a new model to bring innovative manufacturing back to the UK. CEO Mike Shearwood and sourcing director Antony Perillo spoke to just-style about the company's multi-million pound investment to slash lead times and bring more agility to its sourcing portfolio.

US sporting goods giant Nike has unveiled the first apparel innovation utilising its Flyknit technology in what it says is a "new generation" of sports bras.

But Canadian yoga wear brand Lululemon Athletica is suing rival sportswear firm Under Armour over claims it has copied the four-strap design of its best-selling sports bras.

Meanwhile, in other news, more than 200,000 dresses were sold globally on Amazon's Prime Day promotional shopping event; children's wear retailer Gymboree is to close 350 of its namesake and Crazy 8 stores; Sears Holdings is to shutter more stores; and Abercrombie & Fitch has failed to find a buyer.

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