Blog: Leonie BarrieTrends in the US apparel sourcing landscape

Leonie Barrie | 30 August 2016

As a barometer of the latest trends in the US apparel sourcing landscape, the recent Sourcing at MAGIC trade show pointed to a shift from regional to global sourcing, a move towards fewer but more capable 'super vendors', increasing interest in 'Made in USA' products, the rise of Ethiopia and concerns over Vietnam.

Massive challenges facing transparency and traceability across global supply chains also remain – highlighted by the revelation that US department store retailer Target Corporation has pulled all luxury bed linen produced by Welspun Global Brands over the provenance of the cotton used in its products.

But while there are many tools on the market offering supply chain mapping solutions, there is a lot of variation and confusion over what this actually means.

After working for the past seven years on a set of tools to measure the social and environmental impact of apparel and footwear production, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition has shared little evidence to suggest how, or even if, companies are using it. But the group is now ready to tackle transparency head-on with a raft of new activities and products, Jason Kibbey, CEO of the global alliance, tells just-style.

For sportswear giant Nike and Hong Kong based manufacturer Crystal Group the ability to take on society's biggest problems – and make money doing so – has propelled them onto Fortune magazine's 'Change The World' list for 2016, which ranks businesses on their sustainability efforts.

And in a bid to boost the supply of organic cotton in China, the corporate foundation affiliated with global retailer C&A has partnered with C&A China and conservation partner Rare to help farmers grow more organic fibre.

But Cambodia's concentration in garment production, along with slowing growth in China – one of its key sources of investment, trade and concessional loans – are seen among the headwinds facing its overall economic strength.

Vietnam's garment and textile industry has called on the country’s government to create a development strategy to 2025, with a vision toward 2040, in order to help firms take advantage of opportunities and overcome challenges brought by free trade agreements.

While new relaxed rules of origin will make it easier for manufacturers in Jordan to export clothing to the European Union for the next ten years if they employ Syrian refugees.

Meanwhile, an apparent shift in EU sourcing from China to other countries in Asia reflects the fact that several companies in China have moved, or plan to move, at least some of their clothing production to other countries in order to benefit from abundant supplies of cheaper labour.

And Swedish fashion giant Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) has demanded two of its Myanmar suppliers establish an action plan after learning teenagers as young as 14 have been working for more than 12 hours a day in factories near the country's capital.

In other news, Li & Fung will put a faster supply chain at the heart of its new strategy after posting a slump in first-half sales and earnings; French department store retailer Galeries Lafayette has launched a fully-traceable fashion collection; and Zara USA has been hit with a US$5m lawsuit for misleading price tags.

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