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China's textile and apparel industry has been in a transitional phase since 2013. In January 2014, the temporary policy of purchasing and stockpiling cotton was cancelled. For textile and apparel companies, in the short term, the gross margin will be reduced as a result of cotton price decline, raw material inventory depreciation and falling product prices. However, in the long run, lower production cost is helpful to improve gross margin.

Compared with the sluggish growth of traditional channel consumption, online sales of textile and apparel companies grew rapidly. In the first quarter of 2014, China's online retail sales saw a jump of nearly 46 per cent, accounting for 9 per cent of total volume of retail sales, thus becoming a new growth engine for domestic demand.

While online business grows, apparel sales through traditional retail are still faltering due to the double blow of consumer recession and the diversion of business to the online channel. In May 2014, apparel retail sales of China’s top 100 large retailers saw a year-on-year increase of 5.4 per cent, still 0.7 percentage points slower than that of the same period last year. In the branded apparel segment, casual wear and home textiles have resumed growth while men’s wear and women’s wear are yet to pick up.

The tenth edition of Shanghai Mode Lingerie will be held October 20 to 21, 2014. The event brings the lingerie and swimwear industry worldwide together. It will have a series of conferences and B2B meeting programs.

Since 2005, Shanghai Mode Lingerie has been host to over 250 Chinese and international brands, bringing together leading distributors in Asia with local and international brands looking to grow their footprint within Asia and build on their international brand recognition. This year Shanghai Mode Lingerie will feature more brands. Top agents, distributors and department stores are visiting the show. Additionally, the collaboration with Shanghai Fashion Week is on again and there will be several fashion shows during the two days. The gala fashion show hosting VIP buyers, designers and retailers will be held on the first evening of the show.

Visitors can get information on spring/summer 2016 trends and meet fashion designers, international brand leaders, distributors and agents, managers of department stores. Held along with Shanghai Mode Lingerie is Interfilière Shanghai. With more than 270 specialized exhibitors expected, Interfiliere Shanghai will have a layout of seven product-based sectors. These are fabrics, lace, embroidery, accessories and trims, garment manufacturers, textile design, machinery and software.

The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has rejected the gas load management schedule announced by Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA). They have appealed to the government to take stock of the situation and save the largest foreign exchange earning sector from total collapse.

APTMA says the load management schedule announced by SNGPL and WAPDA is not workable as the feasibility of the industry is based on a 24-hour working day whereas the industry based in Punjab is getting energy (both gas and electricity) for only 14 hours a day. Pakistan’s textile industry feels it has become non-competitive following the appreciation of the rupee against the dollar and the hike in gas and electricity rates studded with the additional 45 per cent gas infrastructure development cess.

It says the decision to divert 250 million metric cubic feet of gas a day to government-owned power plants would only increase the circular debt because the energy generated by these inefficient companies would not make any difference due to massive line losses, theft and leakages, which are on the rise with every increase in the tariff. Exporters are unable to deliver orders on time due to the energy shortage and continuation of the new gas and electricity outage plan.

The Bangladesh government has decided to make the reports on assessment of garment factories public following pressure from both local and international sources. The National Tripartite Committee (NTC) at a meeting chaired by labour secretary Mikail Shipar held last week, decided to make the inspection reports, prepared by the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), public.

The factory inspection reports will soon be uploaded on the DIFE database after formulating the common template. A common format would be followed for the reports done by Accord, Alliance and BUET. Recently the Human Rights Watch (HRW) had demanded that the government should disclose the findings of ongoing apparel factory safety inspections carried out by the government and other groups both in Bengali and English to help the workers know actual conditions of their workplaces.

However, at the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) ministerial meeting in Paris held on June, 26, Karel De Gutch, EU Trade Commissioner asked the Bangladesh government to accelerate the recruitment of inspectors and publish the inspection results. While BUET has so far assessed 252 garment factories and submitted its first initial report in January. Later in April it handed over the final reports of 200 factories to the DIFE.  But till date no reports have been published. On the other hand, Accord and Alliance have already made some of their assessment reports including corrective action plan public on their respective websites. They are also on the process to upload the more reports in the coming days.

In July, 2013, Bangladesh, the EU and the ILO agreed to a compact on labour rights and factory safety which was later joined by the US government, to create a publicly accessible database listing all RMG and knitwear factories, as a platform for reporting labour, fire and building safety inspections.

A Hong Kong team has developed a self-cleaning cashmere that uses energy from the sun. The technology coats cashmere fibers with tiny particles that help break down bacteria, dirt and even coffee and wine stains. Within 24 hours of daylight exposure, red wine or coffee stains disappeared.

Researchers have applied a coating of the mineral anatase titanium dioxide to cotton and wool since 2002, but this is the first time the technology has been applied to cashmere, a fabric that is very expensive to clean. Retaining the softness of the fabric and also preventing damage to the delicate fibers from the oxidisation process was a huge challenge.

If commercialised, the process could lead to substantial savings on energy, water, washing liquids and dry cleaning chemicals. The price of the treatment would only increase the cost of production by one per cent or so. Washing and dry-cleaning do not remove the coating from the fibers. Anatase titanium dioxide is not on the list of materials restricted by the US.

However, questions remain. Sunlight is not available 24 hours a day. Direct sunlight may not always be available. Whether diffused sunlight will work is uncertain. There’s also a doubt whether sunlight would discolor the fabric.

Ethiopia is hoping to become a major African hub for apparel manufacture. Since last year, the Ethiopian institute and the National Institute of Fashion Technology in India have been providing training to professionals. Nearly 1,360 professionals have received training this year alone.

Textile and garment factories, some of which have a capacity to create up to 7,000 jobs, are being established in Ethiopia. Currently, there are more than 130 giant textile and garment industries in Ethiopia and some 37 of the industries are owned by foreigners. International British and Swedish clothing brands like Tesco and Hennes and Mauritz are in the process of setting up an outsourcing base in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia began industrial production less than a century ago. It exported textiles and apparel worth $92.02 million in the first 10 months of the current fiscal. Products were exported to Germany, Turkey, China, Italy and the United States. Ethiopia is fast becoming a rising star for sourcing garments. It is the fifth fastest growing economy in Africa. It’s the third highest in the world for public investment. The government has set a target of reaching a billion dollars in textile exports by 2016. The US accounts for 40 per cent of Ethiopia’s textile and garment exports.  

Garment factories in Cambodia are finally starting to ensure a basic conditions for their workers. This was made possible after they were publicly highlighted and had no choice but to clean up their act in areas like: payments for sick leave, wage deductions and safety issues. Eventually, the database, which makes public the names of the worst-performing factories for the first time since 2005, will cover nearly 500 factories across the country.

Also added to the database are labor unions that carry out illegal strikes. Stringent conditions have been imposed on unions for calling a strike. Recent negative publicity surrounding the country’s $5 billion garment sector, which employs about half a million Cambodians, has reduced the number of orders coming in from global brands. So, Cambodian companies have no option but to strictly adhere to compliance issues.

Since the 1990s, Cambodia’s garment industry has established itself as central to the nation’s economy.   The garment industry is concentrated in and around the capital city, Phnom Penh, with a smaller number of factories scattered throughout the provinces. 

An estimated 85 per cent of garment factories are foreign controlled, mostly by Chinese, Taiwanese, Singaporean and Malaysian investors, who moved to the country to take advantage of the low-cost labor market and the country’s quota-free access to US and EU markets.

How soon Bangladesh will get back its GSP benefit in the US market is uncertain. The US is apparently not satisfied with the progress made by Bangladesh in ensuring workers’ rights and safety issues in the apparel sector. In June 2013, the US suspended Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade benefits for Bangladesh. It provided the government of Bangladesh with an action plan which the country would have to implement to get back GSP trade benefits. However, the US says that Bangladesh has not yet implemented substantial parts of the action plan.

It says Bangladesh is behind schedule to carry out hundreds of critical safety inspections in garment factories, as well as meeting its commitments to hire additional inspectors. It says the government has been slow to respond to continuing reports of harassment and violence against labor activists.

However, progress in some areas has taken place. More than 100 new unions have been registered since June, 2013. Criminal charges against labor activists have been dropped. The government is cooperating with Accord and Alliance as part of the plan to inspect garment factories and production in about 20 factories has been suspended due to structural flaws.

In 2012, top GSP imports to the US from Bangladesh included tobacco, sports equipment, porcelain china, and plastic products. 

Intertextile Pavilion Shenzhen will be held from July 10 to 12, 2014. This is an international trade fair for apparel fabrics and accessories. This edition will have nearly 700 exhibitors from eight countries and regions taking part. A wide range of high-quality fabrics for ladies’ wear, casual wear, shirting and functional wear or sportswear, as well as accessories, will be presented by exhibitors from China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and the UK. There will be a fashion show.

The Taiwan pavilion is making its debut at this year’s fair. It will exhibit mostly knitted and functional fabrics as well as lace and embroideries.  Pavilions from India and Korea will also feature. Four domestic pavilions at this year’s fair will feature 150 exhibitors offering man-made products, man-made fibers and silk-like fabrics.

Buyers can also discover the latest fashions and styles in the Trend Forum. Exhibitors’ fabrics and accessories have been used to illustrate the trends for Spring/Summer 2015 in four themes: Smart City, Aesthetic Fantasy, Midnight Palace and Fascinating Tribe. In total, 33 exhibitors have submitted more than 500 fabric and accessories samples. A garment fair will be held alongside, the China International Fashion Brand Fair.

Invista, owner of the Lycra fibre brand and one of the world's largest integrated producers of fibres and polymers has announced a new brand strategy for Lycra fibre. The initiative encompasses an engaging brand positioning, brand architecture and the 'Lycra Moves You' consumer message.

The new brand positioning will be displayed through this new campaign conveying the three key consumer benefits associated with the Lycra fibre brand: freedom, comfort and movement. A new Lycra brand architecture will now have five consumer brands like Lycra brand for comfort, freedom and movement, Lycra Beauty brand for control/shaping, Lycra Sport brand for physical/sport, Lycra Xtra Life brand for garment resilience/durability and Lycra Energize for wellbeing/ wellness that will clearly communicate consumer benefits. In India, Invista will focus only on Lycra brand for comfort, freedom and movement at the consumer level.

To support the new brand message, Lycra has also come out with a global brand manifesto which portrays beautifully how the Lycra brand is set to move the world all over again physically, emotionally and creatively. The new brand positioning and brand architecture are born out of consumer-centric research, as well as trade insights. Global qualitative and quantitative research, as well as social listening was carried out in eight markets to understand what the Lycra fibre brand currently means to consumers and how they interpret the functional attributes of the brand across apparel garment categories.

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