Supply Crisis 2010

I like it when Drapers arrives through my door each Friday. A point that just jumped out at me this morning was Drapers Review of the Year where it talks about the supply crisis. I’ve already mentioned the cotton issues, which was the major cause of supply issues, however drapers also state, “with rising labour costs in China – pay went up 30% this year – businesses were forced to look elsewhere, notably Bangladesh.”

I am aware that this is the reality, but it makes me so sad that it is felt to be the only option. The Chinese workers deserve that pay increase, but of course consumers in the West are accustomed to low prices. Retailers have spent the last few decades chasing cheap labour, sooner or later consumers are just going to have to accept how much it costs to make clothes ethically.
Bangladesh is still one of the worst (ethically speaking) places to manufacture, and therefore the cheapest. Just this week 31 workers were killed in a factory fire in Bangladesh, and 200 injured.

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Power shifts to cotton farmer

Drapers put cotton farmers as the 3rd most influential player in the fashion industry for 2010. They published the list last Friday of their top 100 most influential people in the fashion industry of the last year. First place went to Christopher Bailey of Burberry, no surprise considering the shearling boot and aviator jacket were probably the most covetable items of the year (making me dreamy just thinking about them). 2nd place went to the bosses at All Saints, and then came the cotton farmer. Perhaps a surprising choice, but all considering, the rise in cotton prices has of course had a major effect on the industry. A ban on cotton exports from India at the start of the year, poor cotton harvests in China and flood-hit Pakistan put a severe squeeze on supply. The price per pound reached new record highs on a near monthly basis and rose past the $1 (64p) per pound mark for the first time in 15 years. This has led retailers with a bit of a dilemma, pass the price rise on to the consumer or take it out of their own profits? This could be another factor in pushing a gradual change in the way we shop, as rock bottom prices for new clothes are not going to continue to be sustainable.

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