5 June 2019

Wrangler launches denim collection made without water

US jeans giant Wrangler has launched the first-ever collection produced using Indigood foam-dye technology, which virtually eliminates the amount of water used in the conventional denim dyeing process and instead transfers dye onto yarn using foam.

The brand, which is part of VF Corp spinoff Kontoor Brands, has worked with Indigood on the "revolutionary" dyeing technique to produce what it says is its most sustainable line of denim products.

The foam-dye process entirely replaces the traditional water vats and chemical baths of conventional indigo dyeing. While small amounts of water are used to clean machinery and mix solutions, 99.99% of wastewater is eliminated.

The new dyeing process also reduces energy use and waste by more than 60% compared to the conventional denim dyeing process, the company says.

The new development has the potential to clean up the traditional denim supply chain. Wrangler calculates that since 2007 it has saved more than 3bn litres of water through technology upgrades – and aims to increase this to 5.5bn litres at owned and operated facilities by 2020.

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31 May 2019

Child labour progress stalls in key apparel hubs

Progress on child labour has stalled in the countries most entwined with global apparel supply chains – with key manufacturing hubs including China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Cambodia registering no tangible improvement in a ranking of 198 countries since 2016.

The latest annual 'Child Labour Index' from global risk analytics company Verisk Maplecroft identifies 27 countries – which account for roughly 12% of the world's total population, or 900m people – where child labour poses an 'extreme risk.'

The index, which has been developed to enable companies to identify where the risk of association or complicity with child labour is highest in their supply chains, measures the frequency and severity of violations, a country's adoption of laws and international treaties, and its ability and will to enforce them.

With five of the ten highest risk countries, East Africa is the highest risk region. A further 82 countries are categorised as 'high risk' in the index, including Asia's economic giants India (ranked 47th) and China (98th). The research shows that despite meteoric economic growth, there has been little or no improvement in their index scores in recent years.

Worryingly for organisations with extended supply chains, this trend is echoed across many manufacturing countries, including Ethiopia (30), Bangladesh (44), Turkey (63) and Vietnam (81), where the high risk of children being exploited or having to work through necessity remains unchanged.

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24 May 2019

H&M uses shopper data for Berlin custom collection

Swedish apparel giant Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) has harnessed specially collected data to launch a new custom-made collection for shoppers in Berlin, Germany. The limited collection has been co-created by H&M Germany and the H&M Group's Laboratory, the internal innovation department that explores new business models.

Garments are designed based on data that identifies current trends such as silhouettes, colours, materials and patterns that are popular in Berlin.

The new line enables H&M to test on-demand production, which allows it to react more specifically to customer requirements and to align product quantity to local demand. It also means there is less transport, warehousing and overproduction, which is not only good for business, but also for the environment.

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22 May 2019

M&S plans further store closures amid FY profit tumble

Clothing, homewares and food retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) intends to shutter a further 85 full-line stores following a 9.9% drop in full-year profit.

In the year to 30 March, profit before tax for the group fell 9.9% to GBP£523.2m (US$663.1m) from GBP£580.9m a year earlier, which the retailer attributed to sales headwinds and the cost of store closures.

UK clothing and home sales were down 3.6% over the year, impacted by store closures, with like-for-like revenue down 1.6%. Gross margin, however, was up 20bps, driven by 14% lower stock into sale. However, the retailer reported selling out of popular lines and experiencing supply issues.

Thomas Brereton, retail analyst at GlobalData, says despite the poor sales figures there are "tangible signs that M&S intends to remain a major player in the long run."

He adds: "Given M&S's eminence in UK retail, headlines will – at least for the next year – continue to focus on the rapid pace of store closures and M&S's contribution to the high street apocalypse.

“For investors, M&S's potential slide out of the FTSE 100 provides yet another warning bell for physical retail – those who fail to adapt to consumer's ever-changing demands will not survive against the backdrop of the more agile market players.''

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13 May 2019

Fast Retailing lists all garment supplier factories

Japan's Fast Retailing has increased its transparency efforts by disclosing all the garment facilities supplying its Theory, PLST and other brands as well as Uniqlo and GU.

The list includes 242 factories across Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. China accounts for more than half of the total, followed by Vietnam.

The group says the disclosure is part of moves to increase the transparency of its supply chain, take on greater responsibility to ensure good labour conditions, and address issues concerning human rights and the environment.

In February 2017 Fast Retailing published a list of Uniqlo core sewing factories, followed by a list of GU core sewing factories in December that same year. In November 2018 it released a list of core fabric mills supplying Uniqlo.

The latest update came as Fast Retailing booked a 9.5% jump in profits to JP¥114bn (US$1.05bn) for the first six months of the year. Profit before income taxes rose 5.5% to JP¥174.2bn, while group revenue increased by 6.8% to JP¥1.27trn.

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10 May 2019

New dashboard to track global garment sector wages

An initiative is underway to collect and analyse wage data from around the world in a bid to drive fair compensation for workers in the garment sector.

The collaboration between the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and ASN Bank – which has committed EUR€15,000 (US$16,863) to the project – will support the development of the FLA's fair compensation dashboard. This will include different living wage benchmarks to help track how much workers are earning in factories around the world and identify where they are and are not earning fair wages.

"In many countries, the minimum wage in the garment sector is not enough to live on. It's time to change that," says Irina van der Sluijs, senior advisor for human rights at ASN Bank. "ASN Investment funds invest in garment companies, and as socially responsible investors we can influence policy and practice for the good of society. The garment companies in which our funds invest have achieved our sustainability criteria, and we want to challenge them to ensure that their garment workers and others in the supply chain receive a living wage."

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7 May 2019

Trump escalates China trade war with apparel tariffs threat

Just as it seemed the ongoing US-China trade war was heading into the final round of talks, US President Donald Trump ramped up the rhetoric with threats to extend the tariffs to cover all imports from China.

Tweeting his plans, Trump said he would raise tariffs from 10% to 25% on US$200bn worth of Chinese imports from 10 May. And he warned of an additional 25% tariff on all remaining imports from China – worth around US$325bn – which would include clothing and footwear.

The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) estimates a 25% tariff on apparel and footwear would result in a family of four paying an additional $500 a year on these products alone.

China is still the single biggest apparel supplier to the US – with volumes rising and prices continuing to fall in 2018. But while research suggests the tariffs may lead to a rise in US textile and apparel production, there would also be a likely decline in US textile exports – and a rise in apparel imports from Asian suppliers other than China.

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