Global apparel sourcing is necessary for any industry - be it for small manufacturers or even large fashion houses. The raging pandemic has brought forth several changes in industrial sectors. In the case of the fashion industry, new trends observed have been influenced by events ranging from geopolitical issues to several policies enacted by governments across the globe. These in turn have affected businesses and fashion industry professionals (especially sourcing managers) should take note.
The pandemic has greatly influenced emerging sourcing trends for the next decade. The industry needs to consider several factors and adapt itself to maintain its constant presence in the market and flourish. In particular, brands must consider the following factors to maintain the steady flow of sourcing materials and keep their businesses afloat.
Global apparel sourcing today is primarily done from China. However, due to geopolitical tensions, the relationship between the United States and China is on the decline. The laws enacted by the current US administration against the forced labor of Uyghur Muslims may result in further escalation of tensions. Another factor to consider is China’s retaliation to Western sanctions. In particular, the Chinese government has disrupted the expansion of western brands and threatened their presence in the global market.
Tighter border protection laws may also disrupt the supply chain of Western brands. This will affect the trade, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. Sourcing managers for fashion brands must note this and look for alternative sourcing methods to maintain their operations. Thus, companies must look for other countries as potential alternatives to prevent the dominance of Chinese apparel sources.
Industrial trends since 2018 have shown a major move towards the diversification of global apparel sourcing. This is because countries in the European Union, the United States and several Japan-based companies have instituted policies to this effect.
Fashion industry professionals, especially sourcing managers, will stand to benefit the forthcoming diversification of sourcing regions. China and Vietnam both hold around 20 to 40 per cent of the current market share for apparel sourcing. This market monopoly can hurt innovative business practices.
Fortunately, the monopoly of apparel sourcing is seeing a decline due to the aforementioned policies. Several companies have also sought potential alternatives to their current apparel sourcing strategy. This has in turn further fueled the diversification of global apparel sourcing.
Super vendors are companies that help fashion brands source their materials from multiple regions all across the globe. The disruption of the fashion supply chain has resulted in companies trying to improve their relationship with these super vendors. This helps to maintain their edge over their competitors to maintain their global presence. This also provides for certain flexibility in sourcing materials for the businesses. A significant problem of raw material sourcing could also be prevented by adopting such policies.
Fashion companies also need to develop an understanding of their sourcing trends. Suppliers like China and Vietnam have been accused of relying on forced labor and other unethical practices and policies to maintain their position as global suppliers in the textile market. The companies must thus make an effort to understand the source of their textiles and raw materials and adapt accordingly to maintain their supply chain without raising the ethical concerns that are currently a huge grey area for the market. Thus before making any long-term commitment, the companies must undertake more stringent and concrete policies to take more control over their current supply chain.
The policy enacted in 2022, known as the RCEP, plays a key role in this regard. With the rise of such free trade, countries like South Korea, Japan, and China are slowly losing their dominance as a supply chain for sourcing apparel compared to the previous decade. The new policies enacted by the Biden Administration have aimed to diversify and strengthen free trade, specifically in the Indo-Pacific region, to counter China’s increasing dominance in the supply chain market. Political instability in the region also needs to be taken care of. This will allow competitors such as India and several African countries to come up as new and emerging suppliers in the trade.
In conclusion, the global pandemic has caused a significant disruption in the sourcing of textiles and raw materials for the fashion industry. The next decade will no doubt see significant shifts in global apparel sourcing.
The last few years have seen the rise of several new suppliers looking to establish a stable footing in the sourcing trade. This is a good thing for sourcing managers. Policies enacted by several countries are also helping to strengthen and diversify global apparel sourcing methods. This will no doubt give rise to a more stable supply chain for the upcoming decade.
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