International Observation

  • 2018-01-18
    Knitted Sneakers Kick Wool Prices to Record Highs
    New uses for wool in sneakers such as Adidas AG’s marquee Ultra Boost helped drive prices to a record. They’ll only climb further this year, according to growers in the world’s biggest producer. Increased affluence in traditional markets such as China and growing demand for natural fibers in athleisure wear has coupled with limited supply to create a “perfect storm” for wool, according to Australian Wool Innovation Ltd., which represents 24,000 growers in the country that supplies about 90 percent of the world’s apparel wool.
    “China is the perfect consumer of Australian wool -- they have always been good manufacturers and they also now have the affluence to start buying wool” more for their own use, he said. “They want the finer things and wool will always feature in luxury spending behavior.”
    The nation is the biggest consumer of Australian wool and accounts for about 78 percent of exports. Italy is the second-biggest buyer. European demand is heavily driven by fashion, he said.
    But it’s the U.S. where there is room for significant growth, according to McCullough. Per capita wool consumption in the U.S. is just 300 grams (11 ounces) a year - compared with about 1 kilogram in China, Europe and Canada, he said.
    Prices will be underpinned by supply constraints with production in Australia mostly stable since around 2010. Exports are forecast to gain just 4 percent to 446,000 metric tons in 2017-18, with the value to increase 20 percent to A$4.3 billion on higher prices, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences.
    “There is no easy way of getting substantial growth in the wool market,” McCullough said, citing infrastructure constraints for farmers. “We will see it tick along at 2 percent to 5 percent growth over the next significant period.” 【Resource: Bloomberg】
  • 2018-01-16
    Columbia Sportswear Reveals Ski Team Uniforms for 2018 Olympic Winter Games
    Columbia states that the manufacturer has focused on three key design areas: innovation, performance and national pride. Every jacket will reflect each nation’s culture and customers with unique colors and designs.
    The manufacturer has worked closely with teams to offer the most advanced, best-performing products for the Winter Games. Waterproof protection is a key performance feature of the Columbia lineup. OutDry Extreme provides maximum mobility and waterproof protection to wearers.Athletes stay dry and warm thanks to the uniform’s membrane, which offers a permanent waterproof layer that actively repels water away from the uniform. The membrane keeps the athletes warm and dry while promoting full range of motion.
    A four-way stretch is provided to allow for complete range of motion.
    Warmth is provided with the company’s Omni-Heat Reflective design. The material is designed to be warming and breathable. Silver, reflective dots work to reflect the body’s temperature while also retaining the warmth that the body generates.
    Omni-Heat reflective material eliminates the need for bulky layers and also acts to wick moisture to keep wearers comfortable and dry even in the most extreme sport conditions.
    The company has paid special attention to each team’s unique identity.
    Athletes are able to make each uniform their own with the introduction of knee patches and nameplates that are removable and can be changed. The goal is to provide a cohesive look that teams and players can make their own without risk of damaging the integrity of the jacket. 【Resource: axcessnews】
  • 2018-01-12
    New Cambodian Worker benefits take effect in 2018
     A slew of new health and maternity benefits for workers took effect at the stroke of midnight yesterday in a dramatic expansion of the country’s social security framework, even as labour advocates and business experts raised concerns about cost and quality.
    As part of a raft of promises made by Prime Minister Hun Sen last year, garment workers will enjoy expanded health and maternity benefits in 2018. But changes announced in October by the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) mean that informal workers such as maids and construction workers are also eligible for the same benefits, paid for by the NSSF. The expanded perks also apply to local government officials like village chiefs and commune councillors.

    In addition, under changes made in November, firms employing as few as one employee are now required to register with the NSSF and will receive workers’ injury compensation and health insurance.

    “The Ministry of Labour claims that informal workers will get benefits starting at midnight on December 31, but in practicality there is a long process to go,” Poeun said.Central’s Tola noted that many workers covered by the NSSF still complain about quality of care in state hospitals. The goal is “not only put people into the system, but then the people are still not enjoying the services of the system,” he said.Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said yesterday the NSSF “is ready to provide the service to all its members”.

    But business leaders also raised concerns that the dramatic expansions of benefits for garment workers will slow down Cambodia’s economy.As of yesterday, employers are required to cover the entirety of the cost of health insurance for their workers, instead of splitting it evenly.“Socially and politically it’s good, but for business and economy it’s going to be tough,” said Van Sou Ieng, chairman of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia.He expressed apprehension that, because informal workers like maids or tuk-tuk drivers do not have to pay a fee to the NSSF, companies are effectively subsidising their costs by contributing for insurance.
    “Sooner or later, [the NSSF] will raise contribution rates,” Sou Ieng said. “People who want to invest in Cambodia will not wish to pay such a cost – that is what I foresee.”【Resource:The Phnom Penh Post】
  • 2018-01-05
    Al-Futtaim Takes Control of Marks & Spencer Hong Kong, Macau
    Marks & Spencer has confirmed the sale and franchise of its retail business in Hong Kong and Macau to its long-established franchise partner Al-Futtaim. The two companies all but confirmed the sale in August  and settlement took place on December 30.

    Al-Futtaim is now the sole franchisee for Marks & Spencer Hong Kong and Macau, but the deal does not extend to the mainland where M&S has a presence on Tmall, having closed its department stores there.The two companies have a partnership dating back to 1998 when Al-Futtaim opened Dubai’s first M&S store in the UAE. The addition of 27 Marks & Spencer Hong Kong and Macau stores takes Al-Futtaim’s M&S network to 72 shops in 11 markets in Asia and the Middle East.

    “We have substantially reshaped our International business, which has improved profitability and positioned us for growth,” observed Paul Friston, Marks & Spencer’s international director in a statement confirming the sale.“As one of the world’s leading retail operators, with strong logistics capabilities and local expertise, Al-Futtaim is the ideal partner for us to develop and grow our business in Hong Kong and Macau.”【source:】
  • 2017-12-27
    Nike Launches Its First-Ever ACG Collection For Women
    Nike All Conditions Gear (ACG) revamped its modular apparel system recently by introducing the division's first women's line.

    The new ACG women's offering is accentuated by the ACG 3-in-1 Coat, which incorporates a 3L GORE-TEX outer shell with a detachable hood and reversible insulated inner jacket. It also features removable liners, water-repellent fabrics and reflective graphics, representing the hands-on approach exemplified by Nike’s empowering advancements.

    The main themes that Nike aimed to focus on revolved around performance, mood, style, movement and material. As, “form follows function”, these garments allow for seamless transitions against any elements. Some other key items featured in the collection are the Nike ACG tech-woven pants, the ACG pull-over shell jacket and the NikeLab ACG Balaclava. NikeLab's debut ACG collection for women hits Europe on Dec. 9, before arriving in North America on Dec. 21. 
  • 2017-12-25
    Adidas Quits Digital Sports: No More Running Watches Or Trackers
    Adidas was one of the earliest sports companies to embrace wearable tech – the German sports giant’s miCoach platform included GPS running watches, fitness trackers, smart clothes and even connected shoes – but it is to be discontinued. The move is part of a “redefined strategy” that is said to be “in line with Adidas chief executive officer Kasper Rorsted’s plans for more digital experiences”. It’s thought that Adidas will shift focus to its app platforms – Adidas All Day and Runtastic.

    Adidas acquired the latter in 2015, in a deal valued at around €220 million. Runtastic, which was founded in Austria back in 2009, had an active user base of over 70 million users.At the end of 2016, Stacey Burr, who was then VP of wearable sports electronics at Adidas told Wareable that no more GPS running would be coming out of Adidas HQ. "We're not going to see a new running watch from Adidas for a while,", she said. "There will be some additional hardware in the future that we're very excited about but we're looking, on the running side, at how we can bring our algorithms and coaching and training plans to other device platforms, in addition to Smart Run."
  • 2017-12-28
    Uniqlo Expanding Production Network to Africa
    TOKYO -- Japan-born casualwear retailer Uniqlo is opening its first African manufacturing plant in Ethiopia to take advantage of low labor costs, hoping to create an export hub for the U.S. and European markets.

    The chain aims to begin test production of T-shirts and other tops in the country as early as 2018. More products will join the mix if the plant shows that it can handle the volume and meet quality standards.

    The plans were announced by Tadashi Yanai, chairman and CEO of parent Fast Retailing. Wages are on the rise in China and Vietnam, where Uniqlo now manufactures much of its products. But labor costs in Ethiopia remain low even for Africa.

    The country also sits closer to Europe, which Uniqlo considers a key market for growth. Clothing intended for export to the U.S. would not be taxed, either. Fast-fashion titan H&M Hennes & Mauritz has also begun production in Ethiopia, as have such players as Chinese companies.

    Fast Retailing set up a joint venture in Bangladesh in 2008 to tap cheap labor there, eventually turning the country into a production hub.

    Uniqlo has been performing strongly abroad, particularly in greater Asia. But in the West, it faces tough competition from the likes Zara and H&M. It aims to cut costs with the Ethiopian plant to gain an edge.
  • 2017-11-24
    TPP revived as CPTPP
    At the November 2017 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, the 11 countries remaining in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) took a significant step forward to finalize a new agreement now referred to as the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (“CPTPP“).

    In the absence of a key player – the United States – this new cross-border deal, the CPTPP is reported to have largely incorporated the TPP on the one hand but “suspended” certain intellectual property provisions on the other hand, in hopes of reviving them when the United States re-joins the agreement at some point in the future. Thus, although the final text has not been published, it is highly likely that the CPTPP has ceased the effect of many IP-related and/or drug-specific articles that the United States rigorously promoted when the TPP was being negotiated. In light of the above, we think that the following important issues in Chapter 18 of the TPP, which concerns intellectual property, may have been included in the list of suspended provisions of the CPTPP.

    1. Scope of Patentable Inventions

    Article 18.37 of the TPP required its member countries to extend patent protection to “new uses of a known product, new methods of using a known product, or new processes of using a known product.” Reportedly, this is one the points that United States focused on during the TPP negotiation to facilitate protection of drugs invented by US pharmaceutical corporations. However, various countries, mostly developing ones, have been strongly opposed to this approach.

    2. Copyright and Patent Term Adjustment

    The TPP increased the duration of copyright protection to the life of the author plus 70 years, which is 20 more years than the Berne Convention (Article 18.63). Further, the TPP required the signatories to adjust the term of a patent to compensate for delays in the process of patent application (Article 18.46). For drug patents, the TPP also mandated members to adjust the term of a patent to compensate for unreasonable curtailment of the effective patent term as a result of the marketing approval process (Article 18.48). When negotiating the TPP, the United States is said to have actively called for a longer duration of copyright protection and new statutory reforms that would effectively create longer patent terms and constrain the entry of generic drugs into TPP markets.

    3. Undisclosed Test or Other Data

    Similar to Article 39.3 of the TRIPS Agreement, TPP members must protect undisclosed test or other data that authorities obtain as a condition for granting marketing approval for a new drug. However, while TRIPS only generally requires members to protect this against “unfair commercial use,” the TPP goes one step further to specifically mandate members to forbid third parties from marketing the same or a similar product for at least five years from the date of marketing approval of the drug (Article 18.50).

    4. Legal Remedies and Safe Harbors

    One measure that United States adopted to enforce copyrights in the network environment is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”), which vigorously deals with Internet Service Providers by providing certain safe harbors and appropriate sanctions. The United States, therefore, actively imposed similar DMCA standards into the TPP as displayed in Article 18.82. However, a rigid application of these standards in developing countries was said to be impractical and ineffective. Hence, it would not be surprising if this provision is to be suspended when the CPTPP comes into effect.  []
  • 2017-11-17
    Icebreaker Acquired, to be Sister Brand of The North Face

    VF Corporation, the parent company of The North Face, Timberland, SmartWool, and others, will acquire Icebreaker. The company announced this week it will complete the deal in 2018. VF Corp. and Icebreaker did not disclose terms of the agreement.
    Icebreaker is a privately-held company based in Auckland, New Zealand. It employs 340 people making and selling products from base layers to jackets, all from natural fibers.
    Jeremy Moon founded Icebreaker in 1995. It now sees about $150 million of annual revenue. It bases its entire product line on merino wool, plant-based fibers, and recycled fibers.
    In a press release, VF Corp. noted its new acquisition will position it as a leader in the “growing and under-penetrated natural fiber category.” (Note that VF Corp.-owned SmartWool, a Colorado-based company, also sells merino socks and apparel.)
    We have long covered Icebreaker and founder Jeremy Moon. In our recent interview with Moon, he opened up about how he launched the brand after a farmer gave him a wool shirt. From humble beginnings, the brand grew steadily over two decades.
    “I founded Icebreaker to offer a natural choice to adventurers, and to build a global brand from New Zealand,” said Moon.
    “Our partnership with VF provides us with the largest platform in the world to tell our story, access new markets, and reach new consumers at an accelerated pace.”
    Moon said the acquisition is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Icebreaker and its wool suppliers “to introduce a whole new universe of consumers to the benefits of sustainably-farmed, ethically-sourced, New Zealand merino wool.”
    Icebreaker will continue to operate as a unique brand and will maintain staff operations in New Zealand. [source: gearjunkie]
  • 2017-11-13
    Wal-Mart strikes deal with Lord & Taylor, growing in fashion against Amazon
    Wal-Mart is creating a home for luxury fashion online.The big-box retailer announced Monday it has partnered with Lord & Taylor to create an online "flagship store" for the apparel retailer. The landing page will launch on in spring 2018.
    "Our goal is to create a premium fashion destination on," Denise Incandela, head of fashion for Wal-Mart's U.S. e-commerce division, said in a statement. "We see customers on our site searching for higher-end items, and we are expanding our business online to focus on adding specialized and premium shopping experience, starting with fashion."
    Through this partnership, will provide Lord & Taylor dedicated space on its website, as the department store chain continues to operate its own e-commerce platform. " is a shopping destination that reaches a wide base of customers looking for premium fashion brands," Lord & Taylor President Liz Rodbell said in a statement. "As retail continues to change, this flagship store creates enormous growth opportunities for Lord & Taylor and our brand partners."
    It was rumored in October that this deal would come to fruition.
    In a move to beef up its grocery offering, Wal-Mart also acquired, bringing Quidsi co-founder Marc Lore to its management team.
    Lore has specifically said he wants to "elevate the brands." At a recent investor day, he also explained that Wal-Mart has plans to redesign its website, with a focus on household goods and fashion.
    "Expect to see those experiences get elevated," Lore said about Wal-Mart's home and fashion departments.
    Wal-Mart said Monday it's beginning to build out "elements of discovery and inspiration" within the fashion portion of its website. The company declined to comment on whether there will be more brand partnerships in the future.
    In working with Lord & Taylor, Wal-Mart could begin to shift's image away from that of a discount site for consumer packaged goods and into that of an online platform with luxury brands.
    Meantime, Lord & Taylor has problems of its own, met with declining sales and weaker foot traffic. In a bid for fresh capital, the retailer recently announced that its flagship store on Fifth Avenue will soon become the new global headquarters of WeWork. After the holidays, Lord & Taylor will occupy only a small portion of the building.
    A Wal-Mart partnership could entice more shoppers — and new ones at that — to the department store chain's brands.
    Monday's announcement comes as Amazon has been making its own push into fashion. One example of this is Prime Wardrobe. The internet giant also recently unveiled two private-label athletic apparel brands, as it continues to lure top brands, such as Nike, to sell directly from
    Earlier this year, Amazon began working with department store chain Kohl's to sell some of its electronics in the retailer's stores. In turn, analysts are already predicting Kohl's locations will be a testing ground for Amazon's private-label apparel business.Kohl's and Amazon declined to comment on future initiatives.
    All things considered, competition is only intensifying within the industry. Wal-Mart is also reportedly raising prices on some items across its website, in a move to drive store traffic where Amazon doesn't operate, the Journal reported Sunday. [source:CNBC news]

  • 2017-10-31
    Adidas Q3 revenue up 12% as China and US sales jump
    German sportswear maker Adidas is on a run. In the third quarter, sales in China and North America jumped by about a quarter in each region. The group’s overall quarterly revenue excluding currency effects rose by 12 per cent, with Russia being the only global region where sales slipped.
    At €795 m, Adidas’ operating profit was more than a third higher than a year ago, pushing the operating profit margin by 2.7 percentage points to 14 per cent.
    The Herzogenaurach-based group confirmed its full year outlook, which it had raised earlier this year.
    Chief executive Kasper Rorsted promised to grow sales by up to 19 per cent, excluding currency effects, and is eyeing an increase in net income by up to 28 per cent.
    The sales increase in the third quarter was driven by the Adidas brands, and particularly running and outdoor categories. Sales in Rebook flatlined. [source: financial times]

  • 2017-11-06
    Vietnam Export Forecast To Hit US$215 Billion By 2020
    Việt Nam will improve the competitiveness of major export products to boost export value in line with the country’s economic restructuring and renovation of the growth model, according to a decision recently issued by the Prime Minister.
    Accordingly, by 2020, the project would focus on increasing the quality and value of productsthat are advantageous for export to reach an average export revenue growth of 8 per cent per year during the 2016-20 period.
    Exports of major agriculture and fishery products are planned to increase on average by 20 per cent and would be promoted in developed countries such as the European Union, Japan and Korea.
    The project also targets to enable Vietnamese firms to participate in the global supply chain in several stages of high added value.
    From 2021 to 2030, export growth is expected to reach 9-10 per cent per year. In addition, Việt Nam will have highly-competitive firms in each export product category.
    The project will focus on two product categories with advantages for export, including agriculture and fishery, and processing industry products.
    Products which will be in focus by 2020 include rice, coffee, rubber and fishery, as well as pepper, cashew, cassava, fruits and vegetables, along with garment and textile, footwear, wood products and handbags, in addition to umbrella, phones and components, computers and parts, cameras, transportation means, machinery and electric wires.
    During the 2021-30 period, products to be improved in terms of competitiveness include tea, honey, raw materials of the garment and footwear sector, and plastics, as well as fertilisers and chemicals.
    To achieve the goals, transforming production methods towards increasing the proportion of high value-added products is critical.
    In addition, the export markets must be expanded together with developing national brands, products brands and business brands, while enhancing national competitiveness to create favourable conditions for firms.【Source:vietnamnews】
  • 2017-09-28
    ZDHC Announces the First ZDHC Accepted Certification Standards
    The Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Foundation is proud to announce ECO PASSPORT by OEKO-TEX® Programme and ToxServices Full Materials Disclosure™ (ToxFMD™) Programme as the first accepted certification standards, which are indicators of chemical formulations conforming to ZDHC’s Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL) v 1.1.
    Chemical Products  with the ECO PASSPORT  by OEKO-TEX® certification and ToxServices Full Materials Disclosure™ (ToxFMD™) Programme are now listed on ZDHC Gateway’s Chemical Module as Level 1 conformers to ZDHC’s MRSL Conformance Guidance.
    “We’re pleased to have the two certification standards on board”, says ZDHC Executive Director Frank Michel.
    “Not only will ECO PASSPORT and ToxFMD™ certify chemical formulations to be Level 1 indicating conformance to the ZDHC MRSL, but the formulations will also be directly verified and officially ranked within the ZDHC Gateway – Chemical Module. These new standards will help us tremendously to work towards our goal and support the industry by sourcing safer chemicals.”
    To accelerate the global impact of ZDHC’s Roadmap 2020 programme the organisation has decided in a very early stage not to start its own certification system for MRSL conformant chemistry but instead to leverage existing certification as indicators of ZDHC MRSL conformance.
    The ZDHC MRSL conformance Levels range from 0 to 3 as seen in Figure 1. Higher conformance levels are expected to reflect a higher confidence that a chemical product meets the ZDHC MRSL conformance levels, and therefore a lower probability of any ZDHC MRSL substances being present in the certified chemical product.  
    To become a ZDHC Accepted Certification Standard, interested organisations can apply here for acceptance of their Chemical Formulation certification system by the ZDHC Foundation.【source:roadmaptozero】
  • 2017-09-26
    Puma Published Preliminary Results For The Second Quarter And Raises Full-Year Guidance For 2017
    PUMA SE publishes preliminary results for the second quarter 2017 and raises its guidance for the full-year 2017.

    In the second quarter 2017, consolidated sales increased currency adjusted by approx. 16% (approx. 17% in reported terms) to € 969 million compared to € 827 million in the second quarter last year. The operating result (EBIT) in the second quarter 2017 increased to approx. € 43 million (Q2 2016: € 12 million).

    In light of the strong second-quarter increase in sales and profitability as well as the positive business outlook for the current year 2017, PUMA raises the full-year guidance for its consolidated sales and operating result (EBIT). The Management now expects that currency adjusted sales will increase between 12% and 14% (previous guidance: currency adjusted increase at a low double-digit percentage rate). The operating result (EBIT) is now anticipated to come in between € 205 million and € 215 million (previous guidance: between € 185 million and € 200 million). In line with the previous guidance, the Management still expects that net earnings will improve significantly in 2017.【source: puma】
  • 2017-10-19
    American Apparel Is Back, But Not Everything Is Made in the USA
    Did you wake up yesterday feeling a little bit lighter? The lightness that comes with knowing that nonathletic tennis skirts and striped tube socks were suddenly widely available again? Maybe you didn’t, but I definitely did.

    American Apparel’s website relaunched yesterday, bringing light and life to all. Gildan Activewear Inc. acquired American Apparel at a bankruptcy auction. It purchased American Apparel’s name, but not its operations, which explains the biggest difference in American Apparel 2.0 — not everything is made in USA.

    The new site’s tagline reads, “Globally sourced, ethically made, sweatshop free. That’s American Apparel.” To appeal to its original market, it has a “Made in USA” capsule collection of eight styles that are domestically produced.

    The Made in USA capsule is more expensive than the identical, foreign-made counterpart. For instance, an American hoodie costs $48, while its globally made twin costs $38.For transparency’s sake, there is also a section titled “Sweatshop Free Stories” to provide a look into their new foreign factories in Honduras where the rest of their clothes are produced.The company explains the change at the top of the “Sweatshop Free Stories” section: “At American Apparel we’ve always believed in sweatshop free and ethical manufacturing. We’ve also always believed that border lines are pointless.”
  • 2017-10-06
    Target acquires transportation company Grand Junction to expand same-day delivery services
    Target has acquired San Francisco-based transportation technology company Grand Junction, in order to help it move more quickly into the business of same-day delivery. The company had already been working with Target on a same-day delivery pilot program in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood, prior to this deal. That pilot will expand this fall to more New York area stores before a broader rollout to other large metros starting next year.

    The retailer had already dipped its toe in the water of on-demand, local delivery. It has tested same-day delivery in 2014, and later in partnership with Instacart. And this May it announced its plans for Target Restock, a next-day delivery service focused on “everyday essentials,” like household items, personal care products and other dry goods – similar to those you can order through Amazon Prime Pantry.

    Around the same time, Target also announced a small test of same-day delivery in New York. The pilot allowed guests shopping the Tribeca location to have their in-store purchases delivered anywhere in Manhattan, and to parts of Brooklyn or Queens. This eliminated the need for customers to haul their heavier purchases home themselves, or on public transit.

    “Grand Junction’s technology and algorithms will help Target deliver to guests faster and more efficiently,” said Arthur Valdez, executive vice president, chief supply chain and logistics officer, Target, in statement. “This acquisition is part of Target’s ongoing efforts to strengthen Target’s supply chain to provide greater speed, reliability and convenience for guests.”

    Meanwhile, Walmart has doubled down on a same-day pickup service for groceries, and even incentivized customers with discounts when online customers chose to ship items to the store for pickup instead of delivery. Walmart has also taken on Amazon with a free 2-day shipping service and has begun testing using store staff for last mile deliveries.

    Lastly, startups like Curbside are working with major companies like CVS, Pizza Hut and Yelp, to expand access to same-day pickup services, too. (Target had also worked with Curbside before.)
  • 2017-09-26
    Amazon's plan to create sportswear and seek Taiwanese suppliers for cooperation
    Amazon is tapping some of the biggest athletic apparel suppliers to make a foray into private-label sportswear, setting the stage for further upheaval in an already tumultuous industry.

    The project is new and long-term contracts have not been signed yet, said sources. The manufacturers are producing small amounts of products for Amazon as part of a trial. Amazon had previously ventured into private-label fashion, offering office clothing, jackets and dresses under names such as Goodthreads and Paris Sunday.

    But pushing into activewear would bring fresh competition to some of the world's biggest athletic brands. The move comes as unwelcome news for activewear companies already struggling to stand out in a sea of competition and discounts.Last month, Nike said it expected sales to decline again this quarter in North America. Under Armour cut its annual sales forecast in August.Lululemon has fared better this year, but it is also facing steeper competition in the market for yoga pants and other sporty apparel. That cut-throat environment in North America has pushed it to look overseas for growth.

    Amazon has been hiring staff with know-how in private-label athletic apparel.In January, Ms Kirsten Harris joined the company as a senior brand manager for Amazon active apparel, according to her LinkedIn profile.

    This also sends a message to brands reluctant to sell their full inventory on Amazon. If shoppers cannot find their products on the site, Amazon will make its own substitutes and become a competitor.

    It is game on.
  • 2017-09-01
    Lululemon Announces Plans To Sell Footwear In Select Stores
    Activewear retailer Lululemon is today expanding its offering into shoes, giving men and women a head-to-toe look.
    The featured brand, Athletic Propulsion Labs (APL), will be available in 23 select stores in cities that include Denver, Scottsdale, Ariz., Seattle, Atlanta and New York
    “We look forward to inspiring more sweaty pursuits by offering a one-stop shop with an in-store shoe option to complete our guests’ outfits,” said Celeste Burgoyne, EVP, retail, Americas, Lululemon. “APL shares our brand values of providing a quality technical product that elevates and celebrates our guests to live a life they love.”
    APL was founded by Adam and Ryan Goldston in 2009 and its footwear is designed with the brand’s proprietary Propelium technology. Features include outsoles designed in the shape of a feather, natural motion flex grooves that react to one’s movements and solid rubber placed in high-wear areas for increased durability.
    Included in the offering are the TechLoom Phantom and TechLoom Pro styles in a range of colors for both men and women. The shoes average at $150. According to the company, the assortment of styles will vary by store. They are also available online at APL.
  • 2017-08-24
    Google and Walmart are joining forces to take on Amazon
    Starting in September, Google's commerce platform, Google Express, will count America's largest retailer among its list of vendors, the company announced Wednesday.
    Customers will be able to place orders with Walmart at, on the Google Express app, or through Google Assistant-enabled devices like Google Home.
    The coming integration with Walmart is expected to go deeper than that with any current Express retailer — Google's head of commerce, Sridhar Ramaswamy, called the partnership "the first of its kind."
    Ramaswamy said customers could link their Walmart and Google accounts, allowing integrated features like a shortcut to reorder items frequently bought from Walmart through the Google Assistant voice software.
    Telling a Google Assistant to "add paper towels" to your cart, for instance, would add your most frequently purchased size and brand of paper towels. Walmart also plans to allow customers to pick up purchases in-store for a discount.
    The partnership puts Walmart further in competition with Amazon, which has a similar service in Alexa. Alexa integrates voice-control and speech-recognition technology to enable customers to place orders via voice using the retailer's Prime service.
  • 2017-07-21
    Nike’s Latest Sports Bra Gets The Flyknit Treatment
    The new FE/NOM Flyknit Bra is a game-changer; this marks Nike's premiere venture into apparel using flyknit technology. The FE/NOM was designed with cooling, breathability, and support in mind, resulting in an ultra-soft nylon-spandex product that is 30% lighter than the company's other sports bras. The FE/NOM also features separate cups for each breast to assure high level support and a sleek design — peep that geometric patterning and lowkey grey and black colorway. 

  • 2017-07-17
    Lululemon Sues Under Armour Over Sports Bra Design
    Lululemon has sued Under Armour for allegedly copycatting patented designs belonging to Lululemon without its permission.
    According to the lawsuit filed Friday in US District Court for the District of Delaware, the patented bra designs features four interwoven segments of fabric, two of which extend from each shoulder. The two patents and trade dress protection cover its popular and “innovative” Energy Bra.
    Lululemon said in the complaint, “An ordinary observer will perceive the overall appearance of the designs of the infringing products to be substantially the same as the overall appearance of the designs of the patent-in-suit.”
    It added, “The infringing products are so similar in design to the trade dress that they are likely to cause confusion, mistake, and deception as to the source of origin of the infringing goods among consumers.”
    Lululemon is seeking a permanent injunction preventing Under Armour from selling the allegedly infringing products, an award of damages, and a jury trial.

  • 2017-07-10
    Under Armour Announces Patrik Frisk As President And Chief Operating Officer
    Under Armour, Inc. announced Patrik Frisk will become the company's President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) effective July 10. In conjunction with Mr. Frisk's appointment, the company also announced strategic executive changes to align its organizational structure to better leverage its digital business, support its move toward category management, and drive greater operational efficiency across the organization.
    As President and COO of Under Armour, Mr. Frisk will have responsibility for the company's go-to-market strategy and the successful execution of its long-term growth plan. He will report directly to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Plank. The following executives will report to Mr. Frisk: Charlie Maurath, Chief Revenue Officer; Kevin Eskridge, Chief Product Officer; Andy Donkin, Chief Marketing Officer; Colin Browne, Chief Supply Chain officer; and, Kevin Haley, President of Strategy.

  • 2017-06-20
    Amazon Prime Wardrobe Lets You Try On and Return Clothes Free
    For many people, buying clothing online is not worth the hassle of getting a pair of pants or a shirt that does not fit. Many retailers have sought to eliminate that risk by offering free returns on clothing, but now Amazon is going even further.
    On Tuesday morning, the company revealed a new program called Prime Wardrobe that allows people to order clothing — from three to 15 items at a time — without actually buying it. Amazon will charge them only for the items they keep. Customers can return the items they don’t want in a resealable box with the preprinted shipping label that the order came in.
    The service will be an option only for members of Amazon Prime, the company’s membership service, which, for $99 a year, gives customers fast shipping at no extra charge, a streaming video service and other benefits. The company did not say when Prime Wardrobe would be available.
    With Prime Wardrobe, Amazon will actually discourage clothing returns in a subtle way. The retailer will cut 10 percent off the purchase price of an order for anyone who keeps three to four items, and 20 percent off for anyone who keeps five or more items.


  • 2017-05-19
    Gap Outlines Five-Year Goal for Sustainable Fibers Use Textiles
    By the year 2021, Gap Inc. wants its Gap brand to be getting all its cotton from more sustainable sources.
    For its Athleta activewear brand, it wants the label to source 80 percent of its technical fabrics from sustainable fibers.“We believe in actively protecting the planet we all share,” said Wendi Goldman, Gap’s chief product officer, who serves on the Gap Foundation Board of Trustees and Gap Inc.’s Sustainability Board. “With our new sustainable cotton goal, we have the opportunity to make a big impact on the global cotton community and bring to light what’s so incredibly important to the future of garment manufacturing, what matters to us as a brand and what matters to our customers.”
    To achieve its goal, the San Francisco–based Gap will continue to partner with the Better Cotton Initiative, which works with farmers around the world to improve cotton production for the people who cultivate it, the environment and the cotton sector’s future. Cotton is a water-intensive crop.
    For Spring 2017, the Gap brand sourced 3.8 million pounds of Better Cotton. Gap also plans to use other sustainable cotton such as organic, recycled and American-grown.
    In 2016, 7 million plastic water bottles were diverted from landfills because of Athleta’s use of recycled polyester.
    The brand hopes to meet its 2020 goal by partnering with fiber and manufacturing suppliers on innovative solutions. It also plans to use more efficient fabric dyeing and finishing techniques to save water as well as reduce waste at the brand’s stores and headquarters.
    By the end of 2020, Gap has committed to a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions in its owned and operated facilities worldwide from a 2015 baseline and to divert 80 percent of its waste in the United States.

  • 2017-04-19
    Asics Seeks to Expand Boston Presence with Product Creation Lab
    Japanese sports apparel and footwear company Asics is joining the rush of shoemakers looking to expand their footprints in Boston.
    Asics America Corp., the Irvine, California-based subsidiary of Kobe, Japan-based Asics Corp., has plans to lease an office near South Station to house what it’s calling a “product creation lab.”
    While the Asics’ existing global digital hub houses apparel and digital teams, the new product creation lab will house teams focused on key business drivers such as footwear merchandising, apparel design, sales leadership and global performance footwear, said Gene McCarthy, president and CEO of Asics America.
    “The intersection of sport and technology is playing a significant role in the future of our industry and Boston represents that dynamic crossroads perfectly,” McCarthy said via email. “The Boston area is the ideal location for this new hub given how fast the digital industry is growing. We look forward to tapping into the deep talent pool the market has to offer as we recruit for key leadership positions across several disciplines.”
    McCarthy said that Asics aims to employ product designers, e-commerce managers, app developers and digital marketers “working on projects not only for the America, but for the world.”
    “Many of these functions would have historically been housed in Kobe, Japan or Irvine, California, but we felt that positioning these teams in Boston would help us better compete in the global marketplace,” McCarthy said via email.

  • 2016-09-13
    Under Armour has hired executives from Amazon and VF Corp.
    Under Armour Inc. has appointed longtime executive Kip Fulks as chief product officer and hired two retail veterans for top-level roles.
    The Baltimore sportswear maker named Andy Donkin, head of worldwide mass and brand marketing at Inc., (NASDAQ: AMZN) as chief marketing officer. Donkin will begin the role Aug. 22.
  • 2014-08-26
    Nike created revamped sock with Elite Digital Ink printing
    Nike Basketball has created a revamped sock design with the new Nike Elite Digital Ink printing process. The printing process is a trademark system that allows Nike designers to adorn Nike Elite socks with high-definition graphics and a vibrant colors while preserving the performance features the product is known for: sweat-wicking, support and impact protection.

    On June 21, Nike will release the “First Edition” colorway that will be presented in various printing styles, including drip effects, distortions, geometric patterns and typeface.

  • 2014-08-23
    Gap will open stores in India in 2015
    Arvind Ltd will open Gap stores in India by April of next year, chairman and managing director Sanjay Lalbhai told NDTV. The first store will either be in Mumbai or Delhi, he said.

    "It (first Gap store) will either be in Bombay or Delhi, which is the first one I don't know. The discussions are on, and I think it should happen by April of next year," Mr Lalbhai said. (Watch)

    Gap is a popular American apparel brand. It has partnered with Arvind Lifestyle Brand Ltd, a unit of textile manufacturer Arvind Ltd to come to India.

    The Arvind stable already boasts of popular brands like Arrow, US Polo, Tommy Hilfiger and Nautica. It has 16 international brand licenses in all, in its kitty.

    The Gap stores in India will be owned and operated by Arvind through a licensing agreement.

    Gap is headquartered in San Francisco, California. It operates five primary brands- Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, Intermix, and Athleta.

    "It (Gap) has given us a license to bring the entire Gap lifestyle to this country. So we'll be opening the Gap stores. All the merchandise will be bought from Gap, so it will be the international merchandise which will be available to the Indian consumers and we'll be paying them (Gap) a royalty," Mr Lalbhai said.
  • 2014-08-01
    H&M launches clothing collection made from recycled denim
    With an objective of eliminating waste and reducing environmental impact of the fashion industry Swedish multinational retail-clothing company, H&M has unveiled a new line of clothing made out of recycled textile fibers. The company announced the first collection of products made from the fibers of used clothing which were gathered as a part of its Garment Collecting Initiative. The yearlong recycling initiative was launched by Hennes & Mauritz AB back in February 2013 encouraging customers to donate their unwanted clothes for recycling at any of the company’s retail stores.

    The collection will be composed of five classic denim pieces for men and women and will be using up to 20 percent of recycled cotton. According to the company’s statement this is the maximum amount of recycled fiber that can be incorporated in a new fabric without compromising its quality. As the trend of using recycled products is increasing rapidly, the company looks forward to use more recycled materials in the manufacturing of its products. The clothing line made from recycled textile fibers will available for purchase at the end of February in H&M’s selected stores.
  • 2014-06-08
    GAP To Be 1st US Retailer to Enter Myanmar Market Retailer to Enter Myanmar Market
    Gap Inc. has announced plans to produce clothing in Myanmar, the first American retailer to enter the market since the country began its transition to democracy three years ago.

    Two factories in the commercial capital, Yangon, are reportedly producing garments for the company’s Old Navy and Banana Republic brands.

    A statement released by the U.S. Embassy on Saturday said the clothing would be ready for sale in the U.S. by this summer.

    While Asian nations have long had a strong presence in Myanmar, it’s only in the last few years that companies from the U.S. and Europe have started returning, thanks to the easing of sanctions imposed on the country during its half-century of military rule.

    The retail market is especially attractive because of Myanmar’s abundant and cheap labor force.
  • 2014-06-04
    Under Armour Opens New York's First "Brand House" Specialty Retail Store
    Under Armour opened the doors of its newest specialty retail location in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City. With a focus on cutting-edge products and design, the SoHo Brand House is Under Armour's largest retail store to date and a stunning example of the brand's commitment to offering customers a superior shopping experience.

    Featuring men's, women's and youth apparel, footwear and equipment, the SoHo Brand House will be New York City's premiere.

    Under Armour retail destination to shop a full line of Under Armour products that make athletes look, feel and perform their best. The Under Armour Brand House will be staffed with highly-trained product category experts to ensure that all customers receive guidance and recommendations that are tailored to their unique training needs, with the end-goal of outfitting them in the perfect head-to-toe looks. To take the customized shopping experience to the next level, the SoHo Brand House will be the first store to feature Under Armour's Rowhouse Basement shop, where staff will provide private consultations to athletes, celebrities and VIP clientele in an intimate setting.

    The Under Armour Brand House will feature nearly 10,000 square feet of interactive retail space that creates a fully immersive brand experience. Through the use of innovative technology, the Brand House will tell the brand story through digital displays that act as points of information, as well as inspiration. The store boasts an impressive marquee video wall made up of over two million LED lights as well as an athlete wall of fame that will feature some of the brand's most authentic and powerful ambassadors. The specialty retail concept for the Brand House has been successfully executed in other locations, including the brand's hometown in Baltimore, MD and Tysons Corner in McLean, VA.

    Under Armour's newest location will be a destination for customers to experience the brand's latest innovations, including the UA SpeedForm™ Apollo running shoe, the first-of-its-kind Armour39™ performance monitoring system and new ArmourVent™ mesh technology. The SoHo Brand House will also be the first retail location to shop Under Armour's new men's elevated lifestyle collection, 35th & O™. Localized New York products will be offered exclusively at the SoHo Brand House, celebrating the iconic legacy of the city in both sport and style.
  • 2014-04-28
    Adidas, Pharrell to Turn Ocean Plastic, Recycled Bottles Into Sneakers
    G-Star Raw isn't the only fashion firm clapping along to Pharrell Williams's beat. The award-winning musician-songwriter-producer has inked a long-term deal with Adidas's "Originals" brand to create a series of products set to launch this summer. In addition, the sportswear-maker is collaborating with Bionic Yarn, Williams' eco-textile company, and Project Vortex to spin plastic debris from the oceans into yarn and fabric, both of which will be incorporated in several of the upcoming products.
  • 2014-02-18
    TPP, TTIP could alter US textile & apparel trade
    The ongoing negotiations for two major free trade agreements, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), once materialized, could alter the US textile and apparel trade to a large extent, according to experts.
    Once signed and implemented, the two agreements would increase the number of countries with which the US has free-trade agreements from the current 20 to 54.
    Besides the US, the TPP encompasses 11 other countries—Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. These countries together have nearly 800 million consumers.
    From the view of textiles and apparel industry, all eyes in the final document would be on whether a yarn-forward provision has been included or not. Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) generally follow yarn-forward principle, wherein tax benefit is applicable only on those products that are made from yarn sourced from the free-trade region.
    However, the TPP would be different as it includes countries like Vietnam, a major garment producer and exporter which depends on yarn and fabric from other countries like China and South Korea, which are not part of the TPP negotiations.
    The elimination of yarn-forward principle would mean that Vietnam would be able to export its garments to the US at lower or zero taxes, although the clothing is made using fabric sourced from other countries. It would mean an indirect extension of the TPP benefits to those other countries for their yarn and fabric. It would also increase the share of Vietnamese apparel in the US market.
    The TTIP, once concluded, may further change the US textile and apparel trade, as the negotiations are with the 28-member European Union, the largest export market for the US. It is possible that the European retailers may opt to import denim from the US instead of from the Asian countries, once the treaty is in place.
    While the TPP is expected to conclude this year, the negotiations for TTIP are in the initial stages.
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  • 2014-02-18
    JCPenney is cutting 2,000 jobs and closing 33 stores as the battered department store seeks to revive revenue growth, the company announced Wednesday. 
    The move will save about $65 million annually beginning in 2014, the company said.
    JCPenney, which has about 1,100 stores, has struggled to turn a profit since former CEO Ron Johnson was fired in April.
    The firings and closings are the latest effort by the retailer to reverse Johnson's aggressive reinvention plan, which alienated millions of customers.
    The decision will enable the company to focus resources on the highest growth opportunities while shedding underperforming stores that have been a drag on revenues, JCPenney said in a press release.
    "While it's always difficult to make a business decision that impacts our valued customers and associates, this important step addresses a strategic priority to improve the profitability of our stores and position JCPenney for future success," JCPenney CEO Mike Ullman said in a statement.
    In another effort to boost a turnaround, the company will overturn Johnson's decision to end sales commissions, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. The change, which will affect 3,000 employees, is meant to spur sales growth, especially in jewelry and home furnishings.
  • 2014-02-18
    Court Ruling in NRDC’s Favor Should Limit Pesticide Nanosilver in Textiles
    WASHINGTON (November 7, 2013) – The campaign by the Natural Resources Defense Council to remove potentially harmful nanosilver from textiles such as baby blankets scored a significant victory in a ruling today by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
    In a decision handed down today, the court said the EPA had improperly approved the use of nanosilver by one U.S. textile manufacturer. The court vacated the approval and sent it back to the agency for reevaluation. The lawsuit has been closely watched as a test case for the growing use of nanotechnology in consumer products.
    “The court’s ruling puts us a step closer toward removing nanosilver from textiles,” said Mae Wu, an attorney in NRDC’s Health Program. “EPA shouldn’t have approved nanosilver in the first place. This is just one of a long line of decisions by the agency treating people and our environment as guinea pigs and laboratories for these untested pesticides.”
    NRDC sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in early 2012 to limit the use of nanosilver out of a concern for public health. Today the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a key point NRDC raised: that the EPA didn’t follow its own rules for determining whether the pesticide’s use in products would be safe.
    Beginning in December 2011, EPA approved the company HeiQ Materials to sell nanosilver used in fabrics for the next four years and required the company to provide data on toxicity for human health and aquatic organisms. In early 2012, NRDC filed a lawsuit against EPA seeking to block nanosilver’s use, contending, among several points, that the agency had ignored its own rules for determining the safety of nanosilver.
    The key part of today’s Ninth Circuit ruling addressed EPA’s determination that there is no risk concern for toddlers exposed to nanosilver-treated textiles. The agency’s rules state that if there’s an aggregate exposure to the skin or through ingestion at or below a specific level, there is a risk of health concerns. But the Ninth Circuit found that the EPA had data showing that nanosilver was right at the level that should have triggered a finding of potential risk, but approved the pesticide anyway. That led to the Ninth Circuit vacating EPA’s approval and sending it back down to the agency for reevaluation.
    Silver, a well-recognized antimicrobial, is highly toxic and kills both harmful and beneficial bacteria. Nanosilver is engineered from silver and marketed as an even stronger antimicrobial than silver. Its use in fabrics, food storage containers, hair dryers and other products continues to grow, despite potential dangerous health effects.