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The Best of Sourcing Journal: Most Read Stories of 2017

Sourcing has had a myriad of ups, downs and spurts of uncertainty this year.

As President Trump took the wheel, our readers wanted to dive deep on global trade, retail’s transformation and the leaders, like Li & Fung, that will digitize the apparel industry’s operations. Amazon continued to be secretive about its fashion innovations and private-label expansions, while LVMH ruled among luxury sector players.

Amid all these changes, color trend news topped the charts as brands and retailers work to more accurately deliver on the demands of various shopper demographics including Millennials and Gen Z.

Here are the most read stories Sourcing Journal covered in 2017.

1. WGSN Unveils Color Themes for Autumn/Winter 2018-19

Trend authority WGSN delivered a robust forecast for Autumn/Winter 2018-19—one that included individuality, fantasy and heritage in upcoming apparel colors. WGSN predicted that next year, colors will give way to intellectualism, a zest for nature, the harmony of sci-fi and reality and worldhood.

2. Sourcing Scoop: An Exclusive Look at How Li & Fung’s Spencer Fung Plans to Transform Fashion

Li & Fung is taking the apparel industry into the next generation with plans to make the apparel supply chain more digital, automated and streamlined. The global sourcing leader has worked to digitize clothing samples, discussed how data analytics will reduce lead times and outlined how it’s “moving to be the best at a few things rather than everything.”

3. Are Unethical Sourcing Practices Helping TJX Win at Retail Right Now? 

Consumers frequent off-price retailers like TJ Maxx to find affordable apparel, accessories and footwear, but these bargains could come amid unethical sourcing and labor violations. Though TJ Maxx has said it upholds fair labor standards and works with ethical suppliers, questions still remain about how these off-price tycoons continue to facilitate the affordable “treasure hunt” that keeps consumers coming back for more.

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4. Trump to Pull US From TPP Monday

In late January, President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Trans Pacific Partnership, a move which signaled the year’s tone of protectionism. The goal with the TPP was for the U.S. to establish a greater trade foothold among Pacific Rim nations, but it’s withdrawal from the trade deal has opened up opportunities for other countries like China to move in on the space and control more trade in the region.

5. Here’s How Li & Fung Plans to Create the Supply Chain of the Future

Digitization, speed and innovation are Li & Fung’s key focus areas for revolutionizing the apparel supply chain. Delivering on consumer demands in today’s market requires considerable technology, and Li & Fung is revamping supply chains with rapid prototyping, connected devices and digital platforms to speed up the time from sourcing to store.

6. Amazon Gets Patent for On-Demand Apparel Manufacturing

Amazon has a myriad of innovations under its belt, including, an on-demand apparel manufacturing system, which could reduce production time and enable consumers to have a personalized garment ready for them in minutes. The patent came on the heels of Amazon’s apparel push, as the e-tailer seeks to take its share of the sector.

7. Ready the Retail Bailouts. The Bubble is Bursting.

Edward Hertzman, Sourcing Journal president and founder, said, “the supply chain is the eyes into a brand’s soul,” and that retail’s current demise could be owed to new direct-to-consumer startups, changes in consumer spending patterns and declining store traffic. The retail bubble may burst if the apparel industry keeps up its old sourcing and manufacturing habits.

8. Deloitte: In Luxury, LVMH Still Rules the Space

LVMH remains king when it comes to delivering on consumers’ luxury apparel, accessories and footwear expectations. The luxury powerhouse has increased sales by double digits, and other efforts to drive its business earned it the top spot on Deloitte’s “Global Power of Luxury Goods 2017” report this summer.

9. Li & Fung Profits Plunge 47 Percent on “Toughest” Ever Trading Environment

Retail’s uncertainty has taken a toll on Li & Fung’s business, but the sourcing firm is combating this dilemma in its extensive three-year plan. With the goal of creating the supply chain of the future, Li & Fung is focusing on speed, innovation and digitization to elevate apparel supply chains worldwide. But business had to get worse before it gets better.

10. Zara Gap: Amazon, Walmart and the First Mile

The Zara Gap remains an evident problem in the apparel industry and retailers cant keep up with Inditex’s agile performance. While retail continues to flounder, companies are realizing that old supply flexibility methods are not working and that it will take disruption to shorten the time to get products to consumers.

11. Made in America is Back and Finding a New Path

Consumer buying patterns, digital shopping and rising global production costs have contributed to the growth of the “Made in America” resurgence this year. While U.S.-based companies, including American Giant and Poste Premier, have mastered their local supply chains, industry members are recognizing the benefits of nearshoring and pursuing forms of domestic production.

12. Amazon is Working Around Brands to Obtain Stock—And It’s Legal

Amazon isn’t slowing down its reign and the e-commerce tycoon is boosting its seller fleet, which is elevating its product offering. The e-tailer contacted sellers and offered them access to a new program, where Amazon would be able to purchase their stock to sell to consumers on global Amazon marketplaces—whether Amazon had a business relationship with the brands it was buying or not. Despite concerns about the move, Amazon’s workaround is completely legal and helping it win at e-commerce.

13. Private Label, Amazon’s Secret Fashion Weapon

Apparel retailers may be feeling the heat from Amazon’s new private-label collections. The e-commerce behemoth quietly launched its own in-house brands this year, spanning apparel categories from activewear to lingerie. Amazon wants to claim its piece of the fashion pie, and it’s expected to continue snagging market share from apparel brands and retailers.

14. Black Friday in Review: The Winners, The Losers, The Dollars and the Deals

This Black Friday, more than 174 million Americans shopped online or in-stores over the holiday weekend. Surprisingly, consumers didn’t choose between brick-and-mortar and e-commerce either—with 64 million shopping on both channels. Cyber Monday, which grossed $6.59 billion in sales in the U.S., topped off the Black Friday frenzy and set a record as the largest online shopping day in the books.

15. Li & Fung Dropped From Stock Index as Retail Shifts Plague Performance

Global sourcing firm Li & Fung took a hit from the current retail landscape. Even though it was dropped from Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index earlier this year, the sourcing company is helping consumers transition to a new era of manufacturing with its digital supply chain solutions.