Blog: Beth WrightThe secret of becoming a preferred sourcing base

Beth Wright | 11 January 2021

From capacity to price, stability, sustainability and quality, various sourcing factors affect the choice of apparel sourcing destinations. But which matter most to fashion brands and retailers? And what's the secret of becoming a preferred sourcing base?

Even prior to the life-changing event that is Covid, there was a real buzz around moving production out of China, with many US brands mulling a shift closer to – or even on – home turf, amid rising concerns around trade wars and forced labour. But where are they at with those thoughts now?

Meanwhile, a ban on solid waste imports into China could mean more upheaval for the recycled polyester market, raising the spectre of supply bottlenecks and price increases.

Affiliates of the Fair Labor Association (FLA) have been banned from sourcing from and producing in the country’s Xinjiang region – a first for the non-profit – as concerns grow over human rights and labour violations.

In a similar move, Marks & Spencer is among the first brands to formally sign the Call to Action on human rights abuses — "Brand Commitment to Exit the Uyghur Region" — as it looks to drive meaningful change at scale in Xinjiang.

Whileamid the rapidly shifting goalposts of the US-China tariff war and the addition of punitive duties on textiles and apparel imported into the US from China, we've taken an updated look at the latest actions and the products on the hit-list.

Elsewhere, the revised Vietnam Labour Code that came into effect from 1 January 2021 brings new rights for workers and employers and more closely aligns the country's laws with universal fundamental labour rights.

A newly released Mauritius government plan designed to help the country's manufacturing industry recover from the Covid-19 pandemic has proposed that the clothing and textile sector invests in the latest technology and uses it to leverage local design talent. This expenditure will be supported by a new government-backed modernisation fund.

Sri Lanka-based global apparel manufacturer Hela Clothing has taken a 50% stake in Indonesia's Submiri Intimates Apparel in a move that sees the creation of a new joint venture project to produce intimate products at Ethiopia's Hawassa Industrial Park.

While closer to home, the United Kingdom and the European Union finally announced the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) on 24 December 2020, with the trade pact signed on 30 December 2020 and applied from 1 January 2021, when the Brexit transition period ended. Here's why the free trade deal "is the equivalent of arthritis – you can still do most of what you did before, but it just takes a bit longer and is more painful!"

In retail, US apparel and manufacturing industries have rebuked efforts by pro-Trump supporters to disrupt American democracy after hundreds of the President's supporters stormed the Capitol building.

UK retailer Marks & Spencer saw clothing and home sales decline by 25.1% for the 13 weeks to 26 December, hit by continuing restrictions and demand distortions related to the Covid-19 pandemic. While analysts note the segment was dealt a sharp blow against the backdrop of zig-zag lockdown policies, one suggests brighter days are on the horizon for M&S with tangible progress being made.

Next Plc saw its online sales soar 38% in its nine-week Christmas trading period, boosting better than expected full-price sales. However, the company remains cautious about the continued uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and its potential economic impact.

Meanwhile, in other news, JD Sports Fashion Plc has made its second acquisition in less than a month with the purchase of UK menswear independent retailer Wellgosh, and Frasers Group has snapped up UK designer clothing retailer Psyche.


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