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The Best of Sourcing Journal: Most Read Stories of 2014

From the latest happenings in Bangladesh’s blighted textile industry to who is sourcing where and new ways to be more sustainable, the last year’s news featured a supply chain in flux.

Activewear stormed the scene and saw more brands moving to make the comfort gear, and the ever-emerging fast fashion retail concept left brands battling to find out just how Zara does it.

Rising prices in China—and globally—have sent brands and retailers looking elsewhere to source, like Africa, and while many wavered about whether to source in Bangladesh, the country’s ongoing efforts to improve its ready made garment industry after tragedies like the Rana Plaza building collapse and Tazreen factory fire kept the country under close scrutiny all year.

Below are the most read stories Sourcing Journal covered this year and a look at what shaped the sector in 2014.


1. Bangladesh: Accord Seeks Evacuation of Unsafe Factory in Mirpur

During recent factory inspections, Bangladesh’s Accord on Fire and Building Safety found a factory in Mirpur to be critically unsafe, and is currently seeking to cease production there and evacuate the workers.

At Florence Fashions Ltd., 284 Ibrahimpur, Mirpur, Dhaka, which produces product for an Accord signatory, identified safety violations deemed “critical findings” and said the factory was unfit for production and occupancy in its current state.

2. Uniqlo Looks to Source Garments from India

Uniqlo, Japan’s largest clothier backed by Fast Retailing Co. has plans to start sourcing garments from India. Company chairman and chief executive officer Tadashi Yanai, met with newly-elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday to discuss prospects of working in the country.

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3. 2014 Outlook on Asia Apparel and Textile Sourcing

The China and Asia Textile Forum, held annually in Beijing, brings together retailers, brands, factories and service providers to discuss the state of the industry. The 2014 event functioned as an update and outlook for the Asian apparel and textile industry in 2014, shedding light on the future competitiveness of China and other sourcing options in the region.

4. Hyosung Unveils Eco-Friendly Elastane

Hyosung, a leading spandex producer, has introduced an eco-friendly elastane called, Creora Easy Scour, designed to reduce water usage during production and improve mill quality. The elastane was presented at the Paris Mode City Interfiliere show, which took place July 5-7.

5. Anti-China Protests Destroy Factories in Vietnam, Production Stalled

Angered anti-China protestors set fire to several Chinese and Taiwanese-owned factories in Vietnam and looted hundreds of others Tuesday night, causing production to be suspended at factories across the country’s Binh Duong province.

The protests are reportedly in response to tensions in the South China Sea spurred by China’s recent placement of an oil rig in disputed waters off Vietnam’s coast.

6. A New World Beckons: The Future of Yarn Spinning in China and Elsewhere

To discuss the global textile market is to discuss China’s textile industry. China’s industry is such a large portion of the global market that, plainly put, the global industry goes the way of China. If China’s textile industry struggles so will global textiles and all suppliers in that industrial chain, but this will also provide opportunities and challenges for producers elsewhere.

7. Pantone Reveals 2015 Color Trends for Home

Worldwide color authority Pantone announced its 2015 color trends for home and interiors Monday. The compendium contains nine key trend palettes plus material direction that will influence the marketplace for home goods next year.

8. Designer or Mainstream, Retail is Pumped on Activewear

Are women buying more fitness apparel because they are determined to get in shape, or because casual comfort fits the U.S. mindset at the register and on the runways? Whatever the reason, it’s a trend with strong legs.

9. 2014: Global Sourcing to be More Costly as Worldwide Minimum Wages Continue to Rise

It was a year of turmoil and general discontent in the global garment industry where workers and wages were concerned. Substandard labor conditions that led to building collapses, factory fires and deaths in Bangladesh provoked worldwide outrage over the plight of workers. Too-low wages spurred garment worker protests that, at times, led to temporary factory closures and stand-offs between owners and employees. 

10. Sourcing Trends 2014: Wages, Compliance and Top Sourcing Countries

Every year the apparel industry is buffeted by a combination of domestic and global trends. The global nature of the apparel sourcing supply chain means that wage protests thousands of miles away can be as critical as a stalled trade bill in Congress. The last year was a turbulent one, and a quick review of the looming issues likely to haunt 2014 will help companies prepare for the year ahead.

11. New Study Finds Apparel Retailers in Danger of Extinction

It could be a short road ahead for many apparel retailers if they can’t find a way to regain relevance before the industry further falters.

In a new study titled, “The Retail Space: An in-depth study of where the industry stands now,” by rebranding company Stealing Share, researchers determined that the apparel retail market is in “denial” and “disarray,” and that many retailers are in danger of closing their doors.

12. SJ REPORT: Everything You Need to Know About RFID and Your Business

Radio frequency identification (RFID) has seen a recent resurgence as retailers seek more accurate inventory counts in order to deliver a true omnichannel experience to ever-savvy consumers.

Retailers now know consumers are constantly shopping, and today’s buyer wants the freedom to make purchases anywhere, anytime, anyplace.

13. The Pros and Cons of Sourcing in Africa

Africa may well be the next hot sourcing locale, but beyond the buzz, many brands don’t know much about doing business there.

At an opening day panel at Sourcing at MAGIC Sunday, industry experts discussed the challenges and benefits of sourcing in Africa in a talk titled, “Looking Forward: From the Western Hemisphere to Africa—Pros and Cons.”

14. The Zara Gap: Retail’s Big Arbitrage

Retail globalization today means rising sourcing costs and complexity, labor and wage volatility, e-commerce growth and highly uncertain consumer demand—each a major challenge to existing supply chain management. Warren Buffett, reflecting on the lagging performance of retail companies, which are 10 percent of his portfolio, observes “seismic technological change,” driven largely by dynamic competitors that master supply chain logistics, like in the U.S. and elsewhere.

15. Former Sears Exec Gives 5 Reasons the Retailer Should Liquidate ASAP

Sears has been floundering for some time and no effort to revamp its business has yet been beneficial enough to draw the retailer out of the red.

In a blog post following the company’s annual shareholder meeting last month, Steven P. Dennis, a former Sears vice president who refers to retailer’s decline as “the world’s slowest liquidation sale,” said Sears should waste no time throwing in the towel.