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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

AAFA Releases Twin Reports on Apparel and Footwear for 2012

Reconfirming its status not only as a major trade association and lobbying group but also as a leading source of industry information, the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) just released twin reports “serving as snapshots of the U.S. apparel and footwear industry market trends for 2012.”

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Textile Recycling: An Important Concept

The recycling of textiles means the reusing or reprocessing of used apparel, clothing scraps and fibers that are left over in the manufacturing process. Apart from discarded clothing and textiles, other sources for recycling of textiles include- carpets, upholstery, sheets towels, footwear, and other soft goods.

Some data:

As per US EPA, about 5% of all landfill space is occupied by textile wastes.  The EPA also says that the textile recycling industry recycles nearly 3.8 billion pounds of post-consumer textile waste (PCTW) annually, which is just 15% of the total PCTW. 85% of PCTW goes to the landfills. 

52% of the clothing purchased annually in the UK, or 1,081,000 tons of clothing, is thrown away in landfills. Likewise, in many countries, textile recycling has a great scope of improvement.

Why recycle?
Textile recycling is a need for a better future; the concept has both ecological and economic advantages. Recycling textiles reduces the use of many polluting and energy-using processes that go into the making of textile manufacturing using fresh raw materials.

  • Usage of chemicals like dyes and fixing agents is greatly reduced
  •  Landfill space requirement is reduced. Synthetic fibers in landfills do not decompose, woolen garments produce methane gas on decomposition. Thus, landfills can create ecological problems as well.
  • Recycled textiles mean less buying of fresh material
  • Fibers, when recycled lead to cost savings involved in importing from other countries. This saves time, money and energy resources.
  • The manufacturing of new products is easier as recycled material does not need dyeing or scouring.
  • Wastage of water is reduced as extensive washing is not required.
  • The stress for producing fresh textile resources is also reduced to an extent.

Major textile sources for recycling: There are two major types of resources- post-consumer and pre-consumer. Post-consumer resources include clothing, upholstery, and household goods. Pre-consumer resources include by-products or scraps left over during the textile manufacturing process and scrap textiles left over from other industries.

  • Used clothing
  • Used footwear
  • Leather goods
  • Cotton, wool, silk, polyester, nylon fiber recycling
  • Polyurethane foam
  • Carpets, rugs and wipers
  • Used bags

Textile recycling process:

Textiles are generally either natural or may contain synthetic fibers. The textile recycling method is broadly defined by its durability and composition.

Firstly, all collected textile material is sorted and classified by skilled and experienced labors who have the expertise to differentiate between various types of fibers –synthetics, natural and blended fibers. After this initial sorting, all items are sent to various destinations.

At fiber reclamation mills, all material is graded as per type and color. Textiles are shredded into smaller fibers to be blended with other selected fibers. Next, carding of the blended mixture is done to clean the fibers and make them ready for spinning. Finally, weaving or knitting is done. For the manufacturing of mattresses, the fibers may also be compressed. To send to the flocking industry, fibers may be shredded to make fillers for use in cars as roofing felts, car insulation fillers, furniture padding and panel linings.

In the case of specialized synthetic materials, firstly, fasteners such as zippers and buttons are removed, followed by shredding the textile material into bits. The shredded stuff is granulated and small pellets are formed. The pellets are polymerized into polyester chips. The chips are melted and spun to filament fibers to produce new polyester fabrics.

With better awareness and facilities in textile recycling, the textile industry can benefit from the concept to a large extent, saving time, energy and the environment in the long run.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Holiday season: Impact on the World Textile Industry

As the holiday season rolls in, speculations about its success or failure are at their peak.  Most experts suspect a sluggish state of affairs in the textile industry, one of the worst in the last four to five years.
Based on an extensive statistical evaluation of more than 60,000 locations, it is estimated that retail sales for December, 2013 will increase marginally as compared to a 3% increase in December, 2012. There was a 4% increase in retail sales in the years 2010 and 2011. 

Some challenges to the textile industry: Currently, people are feeling a bit shaky about shopping this holiday season. Rising interest rates, infighting over the national budget by Congressional bodies, the lack of certainty over US involvement in Syria and various other macroeconomic factors affect consumer behavior. People are spending more of their income on cars, homes and insurance, and are curtailing other expenses, including apparel, textiles and footwear. The holiday season impact on world textile industry is being speculated upon a lot.

Consumers are fast realizing that interest rates have been showing a steady upward trend in the recent past. As a result, they are focusing on larger purchases that may require a loan, in order to gain better interest rates at present. They believe that financial products will cost more in the future with rising interest rates. Until the interest rates stabilize, even the holiday season impact on world textile industry will continue to be subdued.

A ray of hope: In spite of all the speculated downtrend, ShopperTrak suggests that this holiday season, days from December 20th to December 24th could be the busiest shopping days across the USA. They advise that retailers should look forward to a narrower time-window for spending by consumers. They also suggest that although store visits will be fewer, the spending will not be reduced. ShopperTrak hopes to see a rise in retail sales by about 2.4%, as compared to the year 2012.

Market research experts predict that “Super Saturday”, the Saturday before Christmas will be this holiday season’s strongest revenue grosser for shoppers in terms of sales.

Holidays are associated with a great focus on celebrations and gifting traditions. Across the world, apparel and textile manufacturers, buyers and retailers plan their Christmas shipments well in advance to meet the growing demand by consumers. The consumers, on their part, may wait till weekends to hit the stores. They will definitely plan their purchases, well in advance. It is for the store owners to foresee the trend and offer stocks accordingly.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Holiday Shopping Season Forecast Looks Grim

As the holiday shopping season fast approaches, predictions abound regarding its success or failure. At least one major forecaster expects disappointment, potentially the worst season since 2009. 

ShopperTrak predicts that retail sales for this coming November and December will inch up a meager 2.4%, a drop from last year’s 3 percent increase and the 4 percent increases of both 2010 and 2011. These conclusions are based on a wide-ranging statistical analysis of store traffic at more than 60,000 locations.
ShopperTrak’s founder Bill Martin cited a number of factors for the forthcoming malaise, including rising interest rates, congressional infighting over the national budget, uncertainty regarding U.S. involvement in Syria and a bevy of macroeconomic indicators. “It’s got people feeling more tenuous about the holiday season, “ said Martin.

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Monday, November 11, 2013

China’s Textile Industry Leans Green

Speaking at the Texworld USA show in midtown Manhattan, Zhang Yankai, vice president of the China National Textile and Apparel Council, promised an increased commitment by the Chinese textile industry to environmental progress. ‘In the next four years, we are going to work very hard to create a green environment so [the industry] continues growth in the future.”
In a rare moment of candid self-criticism last week,  China issued a report card on the nation’s environmental conditions, describing them as “grim.” The report also noted a “marked deterioration in China’s air, water and land quality.” A shockingly low twenty-seven out of 113 cities evaluated satisfied the bare minimum quality standards, set by the Ministry of Environmental Protection. More than 30 percent of China’s major rivers were labeled either “polluted” or “seriously polluted” while more than 57 percent of the groundwater assessed in 198 cities was “bad or “extremely bad.”

Monday, October 28, 2013

Challenges for Apparel Sourcing

Apparel sourcing is seeing turbulence in the near future, the current industry trends are quite in contrast to what was projected in the last couple of years.

McKinsey & Company had forecast in 2011 that ready-made garment exports would triple in a decade, leading to the countries to rise at the rate of 7-9% and export value of nearly $36-42billion by 2020. But their latest research suggests that Bangladesh seems to have lost much of its magic!

A recent survey of chief purchasing officers (CPOs) in European/ U.S. apparel companies cautions about the challenge of shifting production to countries with lower labor costs. In the survey, the recent Rana Plaza factory collapse came out to be the major reason for this downtrend. The Textile industry business profiles indicate that most investors are now more cautious about Bangladesh as a sourcing destination. While in 2011, Bangladesh was ranked by 70% industry players as a hotspot for apparel sourcing, recent data suggests that only one-third industry players rank the country in the top three places for apparel sourcing.
However, Bangladesh still seems to be the country with the greatest scope for apparel sourcing in the near future - which is well-evident with the U.S. data, where the country's shipments increased in 2013.

Continuous rise in sourcing costs:               

The recent McKinsey & Company survey also implies that buyers agree that sourcing costs will rise steadily in the nest one year, ending decades of deflation in apparel prices. Achim Berg, the author of the survey states: "We have now reached a tipping point and it will become even more difficult to keep consumer prices stable"

The up-market segment of large industry players is more affected by this as compared to the mid-market segment. Almost 76% of mid-segment respondents in the survey expect a rise of about 1.7% in costs, irrespective of the sourcing destination. In fact, some expect a rise of up to 4%. The large players said they foresee a rise in sourcing costs by 2-3.5%.

The main factor driving these increasing costs is undoubtedly, labor expenses. Next is the cost of raw material. The shift of purchasing power has worked against the mid-market players.

While the projected sourcing price rise is eventual, some CPOs are trying their best to lessen it - major players are moving greater parts of their sourcing from countries offering cheap labor expenses. This strategic move will pose challenges to value players who began apparel sourcing in such countries, earlier on.
Also, 69% of respondents in the survey stated that proximity was another important factor. Companies now are showing enhanced social responsibility and work on plans to meet any contingencies they could face in the sourcing destinations.

Globally, textile industry business profiles agree that challenges for apparel sourcing shall be immense in the times to come.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Li & Fung Pushes China As Key Sourcing Destination

Li & Fung, which released earnings numbers this week showing falling profits, stated in its earnings call that China has enduring importance as a sourcing destination. The country is key for retailers and importers.

“China continues to be number one,” LF president and CEO Bruce Rockowitz said, announcing the company’s earnings. “A lot of people talk about the end of China; it’s not true. China is the key country for a company that is an importer or retailer.”

Much ink has been spilled over the impact of higher labor costs in China, which have been rising at double-digit rate for over a decade. Rockowitz said that many companies are mitigating those costs by moving to the interior of the country, where wages are lower. Companies are also working with more mechanized factories that use manpower more efficiently.

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