The recent bankruptcy of South Korea's Hanjin Shipping, the world's seventh-largest container shipper, at the end of August, has left billions of dollars worth of merchandise in limbo, leaving the fallout for apparel and footwear importers and exporters unclear.
Some of the merchandise is sitting in Asia waiting to be loaded onto ships, some is already aboard ships lying idle in the ocean and denied entry to ports, and some is sitting at already-congested US docks waiting to be picked up. The fears now are that many apparel and footwear companies will miss deadlines for holiday deliveries, with retailers left counting the cost of missing merchandise and lost sales. There are also worries of a repeat of the chaos of last year's West Coast port delays, and concern the bankruptcy could pile on additional pressure for US importers, including an increase in freight pricing amid growing concerns over a shortage of sea carriers.
ANZ Bank recently predicted 7.2% GDP growth for Cambodia in 2016, mainly fuelled by rising clothing exports, suggesting the country's garment sector is doing fine. But dig deeper, and it seems the overall situation of the Cambodian garment industry is less optimistic. According to the Garment Manufacturers' Association in Cambodia (GMAC), the key problem is the sector's lack of competitiveness, with exports only growing in markets with beneficial access, like Canada, Japan and the EU.
Gary Yap, regional senior sales executive at Juki, the market leader for sewing machines in Cambodia, says across Southeast Asia's low labour cost region comprising Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar, the former is currently the weak spot primarily due to a sharp rise in wages in recent years, which makes manufacturers' margins too slim to invest in new equipment.
In Bangladesh, labour rights groups are calling for garment factory safety initiatives to be extended to cover boiler safety, after at least 31 people died when a boiler exploded at a packaging facility. The explosion happened on 10 September at the Tampaco Foils factory in Gazipur, around 30km from Dhaka - with the blast triggering a huge fire and partial collapse of the three-storey building.
Factory safety is a major concern in Bangladesh, and the latest tragedy "demonstrates the ongoing dangers to industrial workers in that country and the failure of global corporations to take meaningful steps to protect the safety of workers in their supply chains," says the Worker Rights Consortium, International Labor Rights Forum, Clean Clothes Campaign and Maquila Solidarity Network.
Indeed, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh has severed ties with four more garment suppliers after they failed to implement workplace safety measures - with one failing to submit a Corrective Action Plan (CAP).
And, recent research has found that Bangladesh's strength as a low-cost producer of ready-made garments is also a weakness, limiting innovation and the country's ability to link to the global fashion industry value chain. It also means that if this cost advantage were to change, Bangladesh would not currently be diversified enough to compensate with other exports.
Meanwhile, synthetic fibres have seen a surge in popularity as global oil prices decline, and this growth is set to continue - making the next decade a perfect time for clothing brands to incorporate these materials into their products.
'Why synthetic fibres are a safe bet for the future' is one of a four-part management briefing published by just-style that also takes a look at what the future holds for world wool supply, how low leather prices are creating an opportunity for apparel brands, and the challenges of cotton supply and demand.
Elsewhere, the US is to restore trade benefits to Myanmar after a lapse of more than 25 years. The country, formerly know as Burma, will be added to the US's Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade preference programme from 13 November. While the GSP programme excludes most textile and apparel products exports to the US, the designation of a country as eligible for GSP sends a strong message that it is taking steps to improve worker and intellectual property rights.
And, with anti-TPP rhetoric flying thick and fast in the run-up to the US election, a new report suggests the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal could shift global trading patterns for textiles and lower demand for some US textile exports.
The analysis, 'US Textile Manufacturing and the Proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement', published by the Congressional Research Service, notes that textiles are a sensitive sector in the TPP, an agreement that would establish a free-trade zone across the Pacific if it is approved by Congress and foreign governments.
In other news, theupcoming EU free trade agreement with Vietnam is expected to boost European growth and job creation in the retail sector, as well as the development of Vietnam; post-Brexit currency is expected to weigh on Primark's margins; and, the US is being urged to pursue a case against China over its cotton policy.
The textile design industry is changing rapidly, just like most industries do. That’s what happens with time, growth, and in the spirit of progress. Budgets are tweaked to fit different business strategies, timelines have become tighter and with more being done via the internet the opportunities to travel and meet with clients are rarer.
Even so, we still love and respect the industry, don’t we? We still feel passionate about design. So what do we do? We take more and more on ourselves. We try to be the hero. We try to do it all in an effort to give our best work to our industry.
We find ourselves doing work that isn’t our passion and isn’t our area of expertise because we know that the work needs to be done. We think doing it ourselves will save us (or our clients) time and money. We find ourselves doing things like designing websites instead of focusing on patterns. We find ourselves designing patterns when we ought to be designing products. The list goes on and on...
Instead, we need to focus on finding solutions that help clients, while saving ourselves from becoming overwhelmed or disconnected with our favorite parts of the business. We still feel passionate about design and want to deliver exceptional products. We want to feel like a hero—the one who gracefully gets it done for our clients, even if we have those “frazzled” moments that we all have on occasion. Those are our little secret!
Unlike your garden variety startup, apparel startups have a unique set of legal issues that must be complied with for lawful day-to-day operations. I’m not referring to design issues since clothing has repeatedly been found to be too utilitarian to warrant much, if any, protection.
Rather, I’m referring to the fundamental fashion law issues for startups, which be classified in to 4 different areas under the umbrella known as “Fashion Compliance.” Though each part has its own complexities, the basic areas can be categorized as:
Mandatory Labeling: This involves the data elements required to be disclosed on the garments themselves, whether they are being sold or merely offered for sale (i.e., unsold inventory just sitting on your store shelf or website), the placement of such labels, and the languages and symbols used to convey such required information.
U.S. Labeling Requirements for Textile, Apparel, Footwear and Travel Goods
Made In U.S.A. Claim Requirement
Testing and Record Keeping: Due diligence is required to ensure that garments are made up of the materials they are claimed to be, will not catch on fire at a certain ignition level, and are free from pollutants that can cause injury. To substantiate your business’ representation that your garments are legitimate, testing is required. Record keeping across the board, not only for test results, but also depending on what else your startup is involved in, other records will also be subject to the government’s mandated record’s maintenance. If you haven’t been “that organized” in the past, now is the time to do so.
List of CPSC-Accepted Testing Laboratories
Marketing Issues: ASK – “Can I really say that about my product?” The use of truthful and non-deceptive product claims are highly policed, and beyond this, there are required marketing disclosures that must be made about wearing apparel when advertised online via your website or when in a catalog. As most marketing statements are optional, a flag should go up each time you make a representation about your product to ensure it’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If it’s not, be sure to add on some language that does actually make it true in order to cover your butt.
Green Guides: Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims
Importing and Exporting: This is always the gorilla in the room. “Why?” you may ask? It is because this adds a whole other layer of law that can get complicated fast. The government views your ability to import into the US as a “privilege” – and not a “right.” Therefore, the onus is on you the business owner to have all of your ducks in order when it comes to import compliance. Since US Customs collects duty payments on commercial imports, and such monies make up the federal government’s second largest source of revenue into the government’s pocket after income taxes, they keep a close eye on what imports are coming in, how the merchandise is classified, and how much money they are making by collecting such duty payments.
Money aside, import issues and the startup can also arise in terms of labeling issues, where the clothing manufacturing is done in the US but is made with foreign components.
The good news is that with some understanding of the tariff, it may be possible to modify the design of your product in order to qualify for a duty liability that is lower, and if that didn’t make much sense, the take away is that you end up paying US Customs less money.
U.S. Customs & Border Protection: Textiles and Apparel Products Regulations
For more information on this topic, you can reference my blog post: Online Resources for Fashion Compliance and Fashion Law
The United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) released the third annual Fashion Industry Benchmarking Study, a survey of 30 executives from leading fashion and apparel brands, retailers, importers, and wholesalers.
The downtown L.A. company began layoffs last week. So far, about 500 local employees have lost their jobs, said Nativo Lopez, a senior advisor with Hermandad Mexicana, which is helping workers in unionizing efforts. The company has about 4,600 employees in Southern California.
American Apparel emerged from bankruptcy in February and has been trying to move past a tumultuous two years that saw the ouster of founder Dov Charney, store closures and massive fire sales to clear unsold merchandise.
Manufacturing all of its colorful leggings, knit tops and accessories in Los Angeles has been a cornerstone of American Apparel, set in place years ago by Charney, a staunch immigration and fair wages advocate. After his firing, the company has been moving away from its roots by distancing itself from its outspoken former chief executive, toning down its racy billboards and now rethinking one of its fundamental tenets about how and where its products are made.
The company said only a fraction of its garments would potentially be outsourced, according to last week’s letter that was obtained by The Times.
But analysts said this was probably the company’s first step in leaving Los Angeles, at least when it comes to manufacturing.
“They’re headed out of Dodge,” said Lloyd Greif, chief executive of Los Angeles investment banking firm Greif & Co. “They are going to outsource all garments. It’s only a matter of time.”
American Apparel appears to be dropping the bad news a little at a time, he said, to gauge public opinion and also to prevent a worker revolt.
“They might be kind of testing the waters to see what the market reaction is,” Greif said.
For now, American Apparel will probably outsource manufacturing to a cheaper part of the country, such as the South, analysts said. Eventually, the company may well move much of its manufacturing overseas.
The main problem is that it’s difficult to pay workers decent wages — Charney used to boast that his sewers were paid $12 an hour on average — and still make money while selling pricey $30 T-shirts. Complicating matters is a hotly contested retail landscape full of fast-fashion chains that make their clothes abroad and sell them for a fraction of American Apparel’s prices.
When American Apparel first began manufacturing from its cavernous coral pink warehouse near the Arts District, it was heralded as a bold move that defied conventional thinking that U.S. retailers had to outsource to Asia to make their goods. Charney was championed as a visionary thinker, bringing thousands of jobs to downtown L.A. and a belief that “Made in America” was attainable.
On Tuesday, Charney characterized the latest moves as a betrayal of American Apparel’s foundation. He was ousted as chairman and chief executive after an investigation uncovered allegations of misuse of company funds and inappropriate behavior with employees.
Lopez, the labor organizer, said the general mood among workers is “doom and gloom.”
Organized labor has been one of the main moving forces behind the $15 minimum wage movement, and though some will benefit, the long term effects will be fewer jobs, more automation, more offshoring, plus other ways that manufacturers and employers can find to keep labor costs down.
Smug politicians and labor unions believe they have pulled one over on the country by passing a law that is simply irrational but that panders to the narrow thinking and the uninformed beliefs of workers who have no idea how economics work and what it costs to run a company. And many left leaning politicians, especially those who have never worked in the private sector, believe that all a business needs to do is raise prices to compensate for increased labor costs in the same way they do with taxes.
But economic reality means that people have choices, and high prices will mean less business. In the case of American Apparel, the company will move much or most of production off shore in order to keep prices level and to retain their customers. But the cost will be the thousands of jobs that will be lost because of the ignorance and arrogance of the politicians who pushed through this unworkable plan. And what follows that will be more workers on welfare, and the same politicians whining for more tax dollars to support those unemployed workers. Good job, guys!
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is one of the most ambitious free trade agreements ever attempted.
Its supporters have billed it as a pathway to unlock future growth of the countries involved in the pact.
The critics have been equally vociferous, not least because of the secrecy surrounding the negotiations of the agreement.
But despite the criticism, the countries involved have been pushing for a deal to be reached soon and they are confident that even more economies will want to join the pact in the coming years.
So what exactly is the TPP?
It is a proposed free trade deal currently being negotiated between 11 countries.
These are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, United States, Singapore and Vietnam.
The pact is aimed at deepening economic ties between these nations.
It is expected to substantially reduce tariffs, and even eliminate them in some cases, between member countries and help open up trade in goods and services.
It is also expected to boost investment flows between the countries and further boost their economic growth.
The member countries are also looking to foster a closer relationship on economic policies and regulatory issues.
Media caption Watch: The BBC's Chief business correspondent, Linda Yueh explains whether President Obama's absence will hurt Trans-Pacific Partnership talks at the Apec summit.What is the foundation of the TPP?
The 11 nations involved are looking to build up on a trade agreement that was originally signed between Brunei Darussalam, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore.
That agreement was called the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership, or the P4, and came into effect in 2006.
It resulted in most tariffs on goods traded between these countries being removed immediately, with an agreement to gradually phase out remaining tariffs.
They also agreed to open government procurement contracts to businesses operating in any of the four countries.
The members of the P4 also said they will co-operate on issues such as customs procedures, labor practices, intellectual property and competition policies.
LONDON DESIGNERS TAKE A BREATHER FOR RESORT 2016There was a relaxed feel to the collections presented by Erdem, Osman, Mother of Pearl, Burberry Prorsum, Preen by Thorton Bregazzi and Mulberry.
For many designers (Lanvin's Alber Elbaz excepted), resort is a lot easier and a lot more fun to create than other collections. Consider this: Unless you are a Gucci, Chanel or Dior, the pressure of a runway show is off. That means no worrying about a huge budget, casting, ticketing mania, hair and makeup. Poof. 75 percent of the headache is over, so creative directors can just create. Combine that with an easy holiday feel (it is resort right?), and what you find over the years are more interesting collections.
Retailers and customers love resort, too. Resort hits the shop floor November-ish, just when everyone is tired of seeing the stale fall merch. The holidays and New Year's are around the corner, just when people are looking for a fresh perspective and the wardrobe to match. With London designers, that mindset was clear to see. It did seem like everyone just relaxed a bit — and exhaled.
WAIST NOT: ERDEM, OSMAN AND MOTHER OF PEARL
At Erdem, designer Erdem Moralıoğlu showed us how to deftly work a polished yet relaxed silhouette. His cool maneuvers came through in drop-waist dresses (see slides 2 and 3, above) and a tuck-less shirt —a particularly pretty one in pretty lace blush rose (4). His trademarks — the fantastically pretty florals, the fil coupe, the embroidery, the perfect lady-like coat (even though his version came in slightly naughty latex) showed us he was not straying far from his script, but moved enough to show an ever curious and playful creativity, and an engaged interest in different silhouettes.
Over at Osman, peacocks and foxes ran wild in his collection, bringing to mind a garden in South India. That zoology feel was translated into a relaxed yet tailored looks, summarized in a perfect white bell-sleeve dress (slide 10) and a knockout royal blue number (9), both cut loose on the waist. And Osman is a true internationalist. He knows that "resort" means different things to different people: so, when it is dead winter in Sydney, it is full summer in St Tropez. For that client, a ginger sheepskin coat (6) and a sublime gray kimono blazer/culottes look in double-faced cashmere jersey (7) ticked the box. Then there were some perforated leather pieces (8) that are the new must-have, and could easily transition from season to season. His red carpet habitués should be pleased.
Mother of Pearl wanted us to breathe easy too, but rather than go waist-less, designer Amy Powney went with elastic waists. Once strictly the domain of toddlers and dowagers, the trouser with the give on the waist has been slowly making a comeback. The difference is, MoP is not hiding it under a layer, but is showing it off as a feature in blue peg leg trousers (slide 13). The vibe is neither puerile nor geriatric — only intensely cool, in a way that perhaps only Powney can do.
No one should ever be made to feel badly about themselves for the way they look. After all, beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and there is nothing shameful about not having the “perfect” body. What does “perfect” even mean, anyway?
Unfortunately, one teen from Goodlettsville, TN found herself the target of vicious internet bullying after posting photos of herself wearing her junior prom dress online. Eighteen-year-old Kristen Layne had uploaded pictures of herself wearing a beautiful floor-length, purple gown to the
classifieds in an attempt to sell it. Kristen had originally chosen the purple gown because it made her feel like a princess. If it sold, she planned on using the funds to then buy her new senior prom dress. But not long after she posted the photos, two men in the comments section began attacking her weight and looks.
“These two men were just saying some very hateful things, just telling me I was fat and that I wasn’t beautiful,” Kristen told WSMV. Her father, Jason, said that he couldn’t understand what caused the anonymous men to lash out at her. Kristen defended herself, responding with a polite, “Can you please stop with the comments? Sorry that I’m not pleasing to your eye.”
Luckily, not ten minutes later, hundreds of people began jumping to her defense, writing that she looked “stunning” in the dress and was “beautiful inside and out.”
Kristen had set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to afford her senior prom dress. While she originally planned on spending around $350, she ended up raising more than $2,000 in just three days, thanks to some very passionate people online! You go girl.
“I don’t know how to say thank you to people and accept the compliments because it doesn’t happen a lot,” Kristen said. “Don’t let anyone break you down.”
Floor-length, long-sleeved, and slightly sack-shaped, the muumuu is an easy punchline. But, there's something about this season version that makes it look like it'd belong more in Hippolyta's fairy land than a '70s living room. Just check out the 3-D and see-through version at Blumarine.
It's only mid-March, but stores are already in full-on swimwear mode. Though the weather hasn't quite warmed to the occasion, we're being bombarded with bikinis. This may not make practical sense, but we know fashion operates one step ahead.
This brings us to the situation at hand: With so many swimwear options to choose from right now, settling on just one or two styles for the whole season can feel like a major life decision. It's like, if you don't pick the right swimwear, you'll have to divorce it later...or something. To quell those concerns, we're sharing our 17 favorite plus-size suits ahead — with prices to satisfy every budget.
Every once in a while we have a "Why didn't we think of that?" moment when we briefly consider that, maybe, we should be designers. One of these epiphanic episodes was during Miu Miu's fall 2015 show. The label sent a reimagined blouse down the runway that takes a traditional work top and throws in folk influences. The result? A voluminous, single-ruffled top that feels at once festive and formal. We're calling it the shoulder peplum — and we're on board.
The blouse comes in a few different versions. Some have a collar, and some don't. Some are printed all over, and some only at the décolletage. But, all feel like special pieces. They're fancy enough for going out, and conservative enough for most office environments. Tuck one into a similarly hued pencil skirt for an updated work look, or play with patterns for a party vibe. It's a fun top — but we're serious about this: Why didn't we think of it first?
Click through to see more of the collection.