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Apparel giant VF Corporation is in the process of eliminating harmful chemicals before they enter the manufacturing stream. It has devised a chemical management program that screens for more than 400 harmful chemicals such as chlorinated solvents and formaldehyde. 

The company requests suppliers to fill small vials with samples of each and every chemical used in their factories, which it sends to a designated lab for screening. If red rated chemicals are found, VF asks the supplier to switch it with a green rated chemical on its preferred list. 

The program was tested in Mexico, Turkey and Los Angeles, and then rolled out across its entire supply chain in China, which includes dye houses and laundry and printing facilities, textile suppliers and cut-and-sew factories. In 2015, it will be launched with suppliers in India, Bangladesh and Vietnam. 

In countries where VF has tested it, suppliers actually welcomed the clarity it brought to the somewhat murky chemical management process. When the results of the screening are shared, suppliers have often been surprised to discover the presence of certain chemicals, either because they were not chemical experts or because it was present in such minute quantities that it did not make the minimum parts per million when it would have been reported. 

VF sources from nearly 2,000 suppliers in 60 countries. It’s the parent company of brands such as North Face, Timberland, Nautica, Lee and Wrangler. 

www.vfc.com/

The HKTDC Hong Kong Fashion Week for Fall/Winter and the concurrent HKTDC World Boutique, Hong Kong, kicked off with some 1,800 exhibitors from around the world taking part in it. The four-day extravaganza from January 19 to 22 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) is based on the theme of “Light Me Up”. The two fairs expect 118 buying missions from 43 countries and regions, consisting of over 6,000 buyers from over 4,200 companies.

The 46th edition welcomed around 1,500 exhibitors from 19 countries and regions. They include first-time participants from Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal and the Netherlands. A variety of novel and functional fabrics are on display with the Taiwan Sweater Industry Association presenting its sweaters that use nanotechnology to generate and retain warmth increasing body temperature by two degrees centigrade or more. Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Nano Mintex is showcasing its products that use nanotechnology in clothing tailored to outdoor activities.

The 13th edition of World Boutique featuring a record number of over 660 local and international brands including 2%, Moiselle, Shanghai Tang and Zalora as well as Aquascutum from the United Kingdom and Germany’s Marccain, has 300-plus exhibitors as new participants coming from Finland, Nepal, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States. New to the event this year is the Fashionally Pavilion which is dedicated to presenting designs from various local designers. The Finland-Hong Kong Trade Association and the Thailand Textile Institute have organised new group pavilions to debut in the exhibition. Taiwan Textile Federation will also showcase various functional textile products. The Federation of Hong Kong Watch Trades & Industries will also lead seven watch brands such as Memorigin, Edwin and Temporis to showcase at the fair.

Over 30 fashion shows, including the Hong Kong Fashion Extravaganza 2015 presented by Audi Hong Kong, will be showcased in World Boutique, Hong Kong. The shows include celebrated designers from Europe, the US and Asia, namely, Hong Kong design duo Eri Chu and Philip Chu, Loris Diran from New York, Swedish designer Lars Wallin and renowned designer Wang Yutao from Beijing. 
The Hong Kong Young Fashion Designers’ Contest 2015 tomorrow will see the 16 finalists display their design

creations on stage at the HKCEC, competing for honours in the following four categories: Contemporary Day-wear Group, Party & Evening-wear Group, Best Accessories Design Award and Overall Winner. H&M Creative Advisor Margareta van den Bosch of Sweden will be the VIP Judge. Ten recent winners of the contest, who have started their own labels, are participating in the fairs.

www.hktdc.com

Two private sector companies TUV-SUD Bangladesh and Veritas Engineering have undertaken speedy structural, fire and electrical safety inspections of factories in Bangladesh as part of the national initiative under the National Tripartite Plan of Action for Fire and Structural Safety (NTPA). The companies started their inspections on January 22, and are expected to complete the same by end of April.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) supports the work through its Improving Working Conditions in the RMG sector project, an initiative funded by Canada, the Netherlands and the UK. Bangladesh has around 3,500 export-orientated ready-made garment factories, out of which 1,690 factories are being inspected by two initiatives led by brands and retailers from Europe - the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety and North America (the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety).

The remaining factories are being inspected under the national initiative supported by ILO. As of now, around 500 factories have been inspected by teams from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) for building, fire and electrical safety.

www.tuv-sud.com.bd

The Dhaka Textile and Garment machinery exhibition (DTG 2015) is being held in Bangladesh from February 4 to 7, 2015. Around 880 exhibitors from about 33 countries are participating with a variety of state-of-the-art textile and garment technologies, machinery and parts. There are more than 1,060 booths, spanning 16 halls. Among the brands showcasing their products are: Barudan, Karl Mayer, LMW, Lonati, Santoni, Shima Seiki, Stoll and Thies. 

DTG is a key exhibition in the country. At DTG 2014 exhibitors got spot delivery orders worth $200 million. This year such orders are expected to increase. The expo introduces the latest machinery and technology to the country’s textile and garment industry’s supply chain including spinning, weaving, knitting, dyeing, printing, finishing, testing, washing, embroidery, and sewing equipment. 

It will provide opportunities for raising the production capacity of textile and garment factories, helping entrepreneurs come together to derive mutual benefits and achieve common business goals. Local exporters come into contact with manufacturers, agents and wholesalers and are able to source quality machinery, equipment and materials. 

Bangladesh is the second largest readymade garment exporter in the world. It is targetting 8 per cent share of the global apparel market by 2021.

www.bangla-expo.com/DTG/

After witnessing a year of record production, cultivation of cotton in 2015-16 is projected to fall 20 per cent in India. The reasons: over supply and low prices and low demand. While global demand for cotton and cotton yarn has dropped in recent months, cotton prices have also fallen owing to lack of good quality cotton in the market. 

All this has discouraged farmers and they look at cotton cultivation with apprehension. China has stopped importing cotton to a great extent. Demand from mills has come down drastically due to reduced exports. If prices do not improve, and global as well as domestic markets do not improve, then there could be an inevitable fall in cotton cultivation. 

Globally, too, cotton cultivation is projected to be down by six per cent in 2015-16. Low cotton prices are expected to persist through the rest of 2014-15 when farmers in the northern hemisphere make their planting decisions. As a result, world cotton area in 2015-16 is projected down six per cent to its lowest volume since 2009-10. 

Although consumption could surpass production by about 1,00,000 tons, this would only be a small dent in the large stockpile of cotton. World cotton consumption is expected to increase by two per cent.

Woolmark has presented Wool Lab Spring/Summer 2016. Wool Lab is a collection of the most interesting, commercially available wool products in line with leading fashion and textile trends. It is created by Woolmark in collaboration with the most innovative and quality-oriented spinners and weavers from across the world. 

The brand has a global network through which it identifies emerging trends from fashion, design, art, pop culture, music and many other fields. Each season, fashion professionals look forward to seeing the latest edition of Wool Lab to be inspired and informed about the latest trends and infinite potential of wool as well as to have the chance to browse a concrete sourcing guide for the best fabrics and yarns. 

Woolmark’s sub-brands Merino Extra Fine and Merino Ultra Fine are now available to a wider range of pure wool products. Consumers will now be able to see the mark on woven products. To qualify for Merino Extra Fine, products must have a maximum average fiber micron of 19.5µm, and to qualify for Merino Ultra Fine, products must have a maximum average fiber micron of 17.5µm. 

The introduction of a new specification and sub-brand Australian Merino Wool certifies both garment quality and fiber origin and promotes the fiber of Australia’s wool growers to an international audience.

www.woolmark.com/

Leading technology player and Spanish garment research and development firm Jeanologia has announced the launch of a new laser technology that creates slubs on denim fabrics without the harmful effects of hand sanding or manual scraping. Named Light Scraper, the technology creates open end denim, ring spun denim, crosshatch or slub by pressing just one button, and reduces time to market by almost four weeks. It incorporates virtual sandpaper, replacing manual scraping, which can cause chronic tendinitis, muscle problems and breathing difficulties.

After researching this technology for over three years and investing over €3million, Jeanologia developed the laser and ozone technology that eliminated the manual process of sandblasting and reduced almost half of the water consumption used when manufacturing jeans.

The company, with more of 20 years of experience, is the world leader of sustainable technologies development. It caters to the customers spread across five continents. Jeanologia products and solutions are currently being used in more than 45 countries including: México, Colombia, Brazil, USA, Germany, Italy, Portugal, India, China, Russia, Japan, Morocco and Bangladesh.

www.jeanologia.com

The Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) conference will be held in India on May 22, 2015. India happens to have the most Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) certified facilities globally. 

The conference aims to raise awareness about organic textiles and provide guidance and technical information about the GOTS standard. Issues covered at the event will include: GOTS water-energy tool, the GOTS audit checklist and methodology, testing nuances including risk assessment, test methods and sampling and industry perspectives on benefits and practical difficulties associated with organic cotton. 

Panel discussions will also take place on brand expectations from organic textiles and transcending the supply chain for organic textiles. GOTS is recognised as the leading processing standard for textiles made from organic fibers and serves as a credible third party assurance for such textiles. 

The conference will be a great opportunity for brands to directly interact with their suppliers in India, the biggest sourcing destination for organic textiles- and other Asian countries. Apart from technical learning, it will also provide a platform for buyer-seller linkages and international networking. India is the largest producer of organic cotton in the world and the largest processing and export market of textiles using organic fibers.

www.global-standard.org/

At a buyer forum meeting held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, representatives from 65 international retailers including Walmart, Gap, JC Penney, C&A, Tesco, G-Star, H&M, Target, Inditex and Carrefour, who source garments from Bangladeshi factories, sought an immediate solution to the current political unrest in the country, which is affecting country’s apparel exports.

The group of retailers also demanded that the government must keep political tension away from Dhaka-Chittagong highway to enable smooth supply chain. Usually, around this time of the year, buyers discuss future course of negotiations with the manufacturers in Bangladesh, however, the current situation has led them to demand resolution to the internal issues impacting exports and imports. Out of the total $25 billion worth of garment exports a year from Bangladesh, the retailers who attended Dhaka meeting place garment orders worth $22 billion.

In 2014, export earnings saw slow growth due to the impact of political uncertainty and two major industrial accidents viz. Tazreen Fashions fire and Rana Plaza building collapse that claimed several lives. In the first six months of 2014, export earnings registered single-digit growth and in the last five months, the figure registered below one per cent growth. Export earnings in January-June period amounted to $14.42 billion, according to the statistics of the Export Promotion Bureau.

In the second half of 2014 the readymade garment sector straggled with shortfall of order due to non-compliance issues as after Rana Plaza tragedy buyers shifted their orders from the factories housed in shared buildings. The export earnings in the July-November period of 2014 grew by only 0.92 per cent to $12.07 billion.

www.bgmea.com.bd

As per new rules being implemented by the Mexican government, textile and apparel importers will lose their authorisation to conduct business unless registration is submitted to the authorities. Legal firm Sandler’s Travis Rosenberg has said the rules, which require the submission of a registration for new sectorial importers registry by March 1, could have a significant impact on companies importing. The deadline was extended by a month from Feb 1, 2015. 

In December, the Mexican government had announced measures under which textile and apparel importers had to register on the sectorial importers registry before they could import goods classified within Chapters 50 to 63 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of Mexico. Registration was opened from January 1, and failure to register by March 1 deadline could lead to a denial of entry for imports, along with the resultant costs and supply chain delays. Separately, minimum reference prices for textile and apparel goods will enter into force on February 2. 

Another new requirement now in effect is that importers must notify Mexican customs at least five working days in advance of any textile and apparel import operation to give authorities time to evaluate whether the goods are undervalued.

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