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The Best of Sourcing Journal: Most Read Stories of 2016

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As is often the case, it’s been a busy year for sourcing—though this one’s been a tad more uncertain than the last.

In the face of all of that uncertainty and sometimes bad news for business, our readers wanted more bad news: who’s bankrupt, who’s closing stores and, as always, what Zara’s doing these days. Also, what Amazon and Primark are doing.

But perhaps surprisingly, news on clothing and color trends topped the charts as retailers looked more closely at how to deliver on what consumers want and do so more closely to when they want it.

Here’s a look at the most read stories Sourcing Journal covered in 2016.

1. Fashion Snoops Forecasts Top Trends for Womenswear in SS17

Womenswear designers will turn a cold shoulder to trends in spring/summer 2017. That is, an off-the-shoulder style will be a standout silhouette across the board, spanning Cuban-inspired dresses and New Romantic crop tops to bohemian peasant blouses in both the women’s and junior markets.

2. Pantone: Spring Summer 17 Color Trends Evolve From Traditional

The pace of life has changed dramatically and just as fashion has followed suit, giving a nod to ever-pervasive technology, color too has turned on its head.

So it was only fitting that “Evolve” was the theme for the Spring Summer 2017 color story that Laurie Pressman, VP of Pantone’s Color Institute, presented at Texworld USA in New York in January.

3. Is Poor Sourcing to Blame for Recent Retail Bankruptcies?

The apparel industry is going through a massive transformation today, and in the not-so-distant future it will be completely unlike what we’ve known for so many years. That’s not to say that as a society we’ll stop wearing pants and shoes, but how, when and where we purchase our clothing is changing faster than most retailers anticipated, or are prepared for. It’s almost as if the apparel industry is still selling cassettes when everyone around them is streaming music.

4. The Four Biggest Menswear Trends You Need to Know for SS17

Not a fan of Justin Bieber? Too bad. The reformed enfant terrible has moved on from wearing Supra sneakers and low-slung pants and these days dresses more like a modern Kurt Cobain in ripped skinny jeans and oversized, gender-fluid tops—a look that’s set to influence menswear designers in a major way in spring/summer 2017, according to trend forecaster Fashion Snoops.

5. Lululemon CEO Slams Athleisure Trend

Contrary to Chip Wilson’s claim that Lululemon Athletica created the global athleisure market, the brand’s current chief has dubbed the look “really lame.”

6. Li & Fung: For Supply Chains, It’s Digitize or Die

Last year, word on the sourcing streets was “Innovate or die.” Now, it’s “Digitize or die.”

Retailers, it seems, are in a constant cycle of not wanting to get left behind, but few are innovators and fewer still are tapping into technology at the pace they ought to.

7. Primark Names Second New York City Location

Primark, the cheap and cheerful clothing chain that opened its first stateside store last September, is set to take over another Sears.

8. Unsustainable Sourcing: Why Chasing Cheap is About to Get Costly

The apparel industry is acting irresponsibly. What’s more, the powers that be are creating an unsustainable sourcing environment, which, in my opinion, is ripe to implode.

We have two fundamental issues. The first is that the price of apparel keeps going down. The post-recession culture of discounting has gotten more aggressive and has spoiled customers to the point of commoditizing clothing and its worth. While Millennials may preach on the pluses of sustainability and corporate social responsibility, the numbers don’t lie—the vast majority of consumers still shop based on price.

9. Zara Gap: Change the Culture, Change the Game

To say that 2015 was not a good year for apparel retailers is putting it mildly. From the backup at the West Coast ports in the earlier months that cost billions to the slow sales and early discounting caused by warm winter weather at the end, and myriad other issues in between, nothing went right for the rag trade. Perhaps John Thorbeck, chairman of supply chain analytics firm Chainge Capital, put it best when he said, “Something’s got to give.”

10. This Brand Beat Zara for World’s Most Valuable Apparel Retailer

Move over Hugo Boss and Tommy Hilfiger; there are new, more valuable apparel brands in town. The former big guns of the brand world are slowly slipping down the ranks of most valuable as savvier, leaner challenger companies shake up the space.

11. Nordstrom Slashes Hundreds of Corporate Jobs

Nordstrom Inc. has taken an axe to its workforce again. The department store operator broke the news to staff Monday that more than 350 positions would be eliminated, primarily from its corporate center and regional support teams, in order to generate cost savings of about $60 million in fiscal 2016.

12. Amazon Seeks Staff for Private Label Apparel Business

The online behemoth has posted 13 job openings on its website in the last three weeks, spanning fit specialists and sourcing managers to merchandisers and inventory management, mostly located at its Seattle headquarters and all to staff the Amazon Fashion Private Label team. One posting for a director will be based in the company’s office in Bangalore, India.

13. Hanjin Files for Bankruptcy, Three-Month Shipping Delays Expected

It seems it’s all bad news for Hanjin Shipping Co., which filed for bankruptcy Wednesday, as ports around the world aren’t taking in its vessels and some of those vessels have even been seized.

The South Korean shipper—the seventh largest container shipper in the world—was forced to file for court receivership (Korea’s version of bankruptcy) after the creditors that support it said they wouldn’t be dishing out any more money to help the carrier out of its years of losses.

14. This Little-Known Australian Retailer Wants to Conquer the US

Australia’s Cotton On Group opened an impressive 151 stores around the world in the 120 days leading up to Christmas last year—that’s more than one per day. Such rapid brick-and-mortar growth begs the question: given the current climate, what does this privately owned, Down Under-wonder know that the rest of retail doesn’t?

15. What Brexit Could Mean for Apparel Sourcing

It’s not entirely clear how exactly Brexit might affect markets, but because a good portion of the U.K.’s exports are bound for the EU rather than the other way around, it would be safe to say these goods would be at risk if the U.K. was no longer part of the trade bloc, as they’d again be facing duties, tariffs and other barriers to trade.

What’s more, European leaders are reportedly not so keen to cut individual trade deals with Britain if it were to leave the union.

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