The coronavirus pandemic has revealed how extended the textile value chain is from producing fibers to the finished consumer products offered by brands and retailers around the world. Fibers can be made in one country; yarns spun in another; and fabrics woven or knitted in yet another country before the final garment is sewn and shipped across continents.
“The textile value chain is only as strong as the weakest link in it. It is important to realize that in a situation of global demand and supply disruptions, cooperation and dialogue are paramount for the entire supply chain,” says the International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF). “Our industry is facing demand shocks due to lockdowns around the world, which have posed enormous challenges to the retail industry. Passing the loss and pain to suppliers by canceling orders cannot be the answer. On the contrary, cancellations will create even more problems by weakening the supply chain further.”
Textile and apparel companies are willing to do their part to overcome this demand shock by delaying shipments or deferring payments, when necessary. But ITMF says this must be within reasonable limits. The forum says it’s imperative that brands, retailers, and their suppliers “cooperate closely and look for solutions that support each other.”
ITMF and its national textile and apparel associations represent hundreds of thousands of companies and millions of workers across the globe. “These companies and workers cannot absorb the burden alone,” ITMF continues in a press release. “ITMF’s recent corona surveys have revealed that orders have plummeted by more than 40% globally and that turnover in 2020 is expected to be 33% lower than in 2019. The most pressing issue for most companies is liquidity.”
Therefore, ITMF maintains that it is essential that brands and retailers find solutions with their suppliers that allow them to pay their workers and avoid massive layoffs.
“Responsible sourcing practices by brands and retailers are critical preconditions for socially compliant and eco-friendly production,” according to ITMF. The forum also says that sustainability is not a one-way street. It can only be achieved if stakeholders within the supply chain treat each other responsibly.