Blog: Leonie BarrieWhy China continues to lead apparel sourcing

Leonie Barrie | 25 September 2017

On just-style last week we took an in-depth look at why China is expected to retain its leading role in apparel sourcing for some time to come. According to a new survey, one reason is that the Chinese garment sector is leading the push for greater efficiency – coupled with the adoption of digitisation and automation.

That's not to say low-cost countries are losing their attractiveness, as sourcing executives are still showing keen interest in newer markets – particularly Vietnam, Myanmar, and Ethiopia.

Honduras is also making an aggressive push to attract new textile and apparel industry investment – with the goal of becoming the Americas' leading exporter of synthetic yarns and activewear.

Another survey praises Zara brand owner Inditex, Swedish fast-fashion retailer H&M, and German sportswear giant Adidas as having some of the best supply chains in Europe.

Outdoor brands are also stepping up to the plate, with Polartec, Vaude and Adidas among nine organisations supporting a EUR1.7m project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research to try to reduce the impact of microparticle pollution.

But top denim brands have come under fire from consumer and environmental groups for dragging their feet on committing to climate goals across their entire supply chains.

The criticism comes as Gap Inc, Nike, Levi Strauss and VF Corp are among six US apparel companies who have become the latest to commit to set emissions reduction targets that help limit global warming through the Science Based Targets initiative.

And the 'circular' business model being promoted by large global fashion brands as the key to fixing a material-intensive system has also come under attack for failing to address the core problem of overproduction and overconsumption.

German discounter Lidl has launched a new fashion line called Esmara, designed by supermodel Heidi Klum, with a number of ways to ensure lower pricepoints, including selling products in boxes.

And US sporting goods giant Nike has unveiled a new "super material" – made with at least 50% recycled natural leather fibre and water power – that it says has the potential to be as "game-changing" as its Flyknit technology for performance footwear.

In other news, researchers have developed "natural" feeling knitted textiles made from chemically recycled cotton yarns; the US has set new annual limits on duty-free apparel imports under AGOA; and the expiry of the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBPTA) in three years' time is causing concern for US apparel and footwear retailers and importers, especially those who source from Haiti.

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