Textile traceability draws new global sourcing map
About 38% of the brands sold in France want to improve their textile traceability. In 2019, 80% had traceable supplies, representing a 15 point increase in only a year’s time. A true testament to the growing awareness that exceeds simple clothing manufacturing and encourages brands to change production sites, according to the Institut Français de la Mode (IFM), which asked brands their priorities concerning corporate social responsibility (CSR).
In a report presented at the Première Vision Paris show on February 12, the IFM found that only 2% of brands today have declared that the textiles for their products are of unknown origin.
“Transparency has gained traction, becoming a primary concern for brands that had previously emphasized sustainable or recycled materials and the disuse of harmful fur and leather,” explained Gildas Minvielle, the director of the Economic Observatory at the Institut français de la mode, in an interview with FashionNetwork.com.
“They have perhaps been influenced by the popularity of emerging clean health quality-scanning apps, such as Yuka, which are making their way to the fashion world,” Minvielle added.
The progressive accountability of apparel sourcing, which include the concerns for the textile supply, show brands have clearly identified social and environmental priorities.
Beyond textiles, brands have struggled with the human aspect, casting child labor, forced labor and workplace safety (of which the Rana Plaza was a tragic example) as pet peeves. Minimum wage and workplace discrimination appear to be less of a priority, according to the IFM.
“It’s an important element when we consider large suppliers like Bangladesh, which indicate rather poor conditions. The situation is even more complex in textile-dependent countries, where textile can represent almost 80% of all exports,” commented Minvielle.
In terms of environmental criteria, the brands questioned were primarily interested in the use of chemical products, harmful to human beings and the environment alike. This criteria has a strong lead, with much more sway compared to water consumption, transportation optimization for goods or the thorny question of greenhouse gas emissions.
“We can consider chemical-use to be of main interest, since it could protect consumers from the direct effects of carcinogenic products, for example,” indicated the head of the IFM.
Rethinking the mapping of sourcing
It seems, however, that ‘made in France’ doesn’t benefit from sourcing accountability. Only 14.5% of businesses wish to repatriate part of the production in France, compared to 71% who do not intend to do so, due primarily to manufacturing capability reasons. On the other hand, 37% want to turn to European manufacturing.
Portugal, in fact, emerged as Europe’s “favorite” with 52% of its brands wanting to increase production there, and 48% hoping to stabilize it, according to the IFM. Romania also benefited from the growing interest in European production, with 63% of its companies wishing to maintain their textile supply level there, and 31% wishing to increase it.
As for Euro-Mediterranean supply, the IFM found that Turkey, Tunisia and Morocco maintained supply levels. After a good year in 2018, Tunisia didn’t renew in 2019. However, 48% of the brands questioned want to boost their supply in Morocco. A return after a certain withdrawal by French purchasers that had been compensated, however, by Spanish purchasers.
A record for withdrawn orders in China
In terms of major exports, China showed an unprecedented level of reduction, with 37% of brands on the panel wishing to reduce their clothing sourcing, compared to 49% who advocated for stabilization.
“It is too early to know what impact the epidemic will have on the sector. But as seen by the post-apocalyptic atmosphere in the images of these deserted cities, there will necessarily be an impact, which will likely be in the direction of a reconfiguration of supply, outside of China," Minvielle continued.
All eyes are naturally on China’s sourcing runner-up, Bangladesh. As a result, 38% of brands want to boost their orders there, and 43% stabilize them. Yet, the most notably awaited increase is that of Vietnam, with 53% brands who want to strengthen their orders this year and 29% who wish to stabilize them.
“We must also look out for Burma, which should surpass Morocco next year. It’s important to remember that the former shows a growth of 40% per year in French imports," Minvielle added.
Towards a gradual rebalancing of quantity
As found by FashionNetwork.com last November, retailers now want to do away with the bulimic nature of supply, which nevertheless prevailed on orders. “Brands no longer want to take risks and now only order what they are near-certain to sell. They are more cautious, measured and less committed at the start of the season,” noted the director of the Observatory.
This reality is attested to by the intentions for supply. In 2020, about 35% of brands want to reinforce their short-term sourcing, compared to the 65% who wish to maintain their share of orders. Conversely, 24% of brands want to reduce the long term, against 74% wanting to maintain it. The level of supply in the medium term should be maintained by 87% of respondents, against the 13% wishing to strengthen it.
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