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The Best of Sourcing Journal: Most Read Stories of 2015

It was a big year for sourcing—in ways that were both good and bad. The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal passed (at least in terms of agreeing to agree), West Coast ports plugged up as labor contract talks stalled before finally getting settled, and everyone was still trying to figure out how Zara does what it does.

China’s unexpected currency devaluation roiled markets in 2015, too, and with an increasingly changing—and demanding consumer—companies spent much of the year exploring new ways to target shoppers and offer the personalized, curated experiences they now seek. And those brands that didn’t figure it out, filed for bankruptcy.

Here are the most read stories Sourcing Journal covered in 2015, evidence of sourcing’s major trends.


1. The Zara Gap – And Retail Denial

The fast fashion invasion is upon us. Beyond endless trade and consumer press on the topic, Fifth Avenue in NYC is filling with international fast fashion retailers: Uniqlo, Topshop, H&M, and, of course, Zara. They are more than mere presence, now considered forces which hastened troubles at Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle and Aeropostale, and the decline or demise of others deemed uncompetitive.

2. Bankruptcy in 2014: Who Filed and Who Won’t See Another Year

It was a banner year for bankruptcy in 2014 as many retailers filed in the face of lower store traffic, the ease of e-commerce and an increasingly mobile consumer, and an oversaturated market.

Some brands failed, are in the process of failing, or are projecting failure in the near future.

3. West Coast Port Parties Reach Agreement

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After a prolonged period of negotiations, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) announced in February that they had reached a tentative agreement on a new five-year contract for the workers at all 29 West Coast ports.

4. TPP Text Released, 18,000 Tariffs Cut

The long-awaited Trans-Pacific Partnership text was released Nov. 5 after rampant rumors about when the day would finally come.

A letter from U.S. Trade Ambassador Michael Froman within the report on the nearly 18,000 individual tariff cuts, said TPP is the largest tax cut on American exports in a generation.

5. Trade Ministers Conclude Trans-Pacific Partnership Deal

After more than five years of negotiations, and five straight days of sessions in Atlanta in late September and early October, the United States and the 11 members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) reached an agreement on the landmark trade deal slated to affect 40 percent of the global economy.

6. Op-Ed: West Coast Port Slowdown – The Painful Truth

In the 1950s, it was Harry Truman’s sign that read “The buck stops here.”

In the 1970s, it was Roseanne Roseannadanna who said “It’s always something.”

Our devastating West Coast port slowdown can actually be summarized by combining the quotes. President Obama is going to do his best to “bypass the buck” and forgo letting it “stop” at his desk, and the dockworkers are always negotiating “about something.”

7. Massive Explosion Shakes Chinese Port of Tianjin

A massive explosion rocked the major port city of Tianjin in northeastern China in August, reportedly caused by flammable cargo in a container at a terminal in the Binhai District.

8. What the Chinese Yuan Devaluation Means for Apparel Brands

The People’s Bank of China’s abrupt decision in August to devalue its currency was characterized by Chinese central bank authorities as an effort to drive the currency toward more market-driven movements.

9. Do Consumers Really Care About Eco-Friendly Products?

Judging by the effort businesses are pouring into environmental and socially conscious initiatives, one would think consumers were militant about buying eco-friendly goods. Sure, consumers care, but they’re actually more concerned with factors like fit and price.

10. China’s Currency Falls Again: What Sourcing Executives Should Know

When China’s yuan has taken another tumble—down 1.1% against the U.S. dollar Thursday following a 1.6% slide Wednesday and Tuesday’s sudden nearly 2 percent devaluation—sourcing executives were left wondering what this would mean for costs.

11. Pantone Reveals Color’s New Direction for AW 16/17

Color moved toward more grounded shades, earthy neutrals and blurred color lines across men’s and women’s fashion for the Autumn/Winter 2016/17 season, and, according to Pantone, Marsala is staying the course.

12. California Loosens Laws on Made in USA Labeling

California manufacturers caught a bit of a break when it came to labeling their American-made goods—the state’s governor loosened the outdated definition of what can be marked “Made in USA.”

13. Fashion Snoops Forecasts Four Trends to Dominate SS16

A common thread ran through the Fall ’15 womenswear collections that came down the catwalks at the recent edition of New York Fashion Week: Anything goes. With looks running the gamut from ’90s grunge and minimalism to ’70s bohemian to Cry-Baby-inspired greaser get-ups, it seems that focusing on any one trend is a thing of the past.

14. What Women Want: Key Items and Color Trends for AW 16/17

In keeping with the classy aura fashion has about it these days, women will be wearing feminine and flattering—but forward—looks for the Autumn/Winter 2016/17 season.

15. Rising Inventories at Macy’s and Other Major Stores Fuel Holiday Profit Worries

Is Macy’s choking on merchandise?

The department store retailer’s inventory levels have grown at an alarming rate in the most recent two fiscal quarters, increasing by 2.7% and 3.8%, respectively, while total sales in those periods fell by 0.7% and 2.6%.