The top 5 threats facing the apparel industry today
The world is changing at a rapid pace, with everything from global warming to shopping trends affected.
So what does this mean for the apparel industry?
What challenges are we facing in the next couple of decades?
Cost of raw materials
Everything has to be made from something, and clothing is no exception.
Cotton, silk, wool, and leather all need to be farmed, and that takes time, work, and money. They may all be farmed differently, but all these processes have one thing in common; fresh water.
As a raw material, there is an abundance of water on the planet, but fresh water is a different story. 97.5% of the Earth’s water is undrinkable, which leaves only a small amount for everything we use it for.
Global demand for freshwater is predicted to increase by 55% by 2050, most of which is coming from agriculture.
Farming accounts for 70% of all fresh water use, and according to a Nasa-led study, many of the world’s freshwater sources are being drained faster than they are being replenished.
The World Wildlife Fund estimates that it takes 20,000 litres of fresh water to make one kilogram of cotton; enough for a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. This simply means that things cannot continue at this rate, and that something has got to give.
We may see dramatic changes to the industry in the next 10-20 years as crops fail, and with 40% of all our clothes made from cotton, we will start to see the results sooner rather than later.
We face a future in which the coal and oil industries are moribund.
Renewable energy like solar and wind are becoming cheaper and more efficient each year, and soon they will produce more Kw per dollar than fossil fuels.
Once that happens, the free market will take over and more investment will be put into renewables, making them even cheaper, while coal and oil will fall behind and become more expensive to manufacture.
Now, this is great news for the planet, and everyone will soon have electric cars and home solar systems, but it’s not necessarily good for the apparel industry.
No matter how efficient solar panels are, they are nowhere near powerful enough to drive a container ship. Transporting product around the world will still rely on enormous diesel chugging ships, but with the price of oil going through the roof, it going to be a luxury only the top brands may be able to afford.
Rising labour costs
Climate change is the culprit again here, with rising sea levels to blame.
According to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, four out of the five countries most affected by rising sea levels are China, Vietnam, Bangladesh and India. These four countries also happen to be the apparel industry’s biggest manufacturers.
Extreme weather conditions mean that these counties may not be able to continue with their textile production, and if they do, at the very least the cost of running these factories will increase.
If the labour force is changed to a different area or country, this again will have a knock-on effect, raising prices across the globe.
Millennials becoming the largest market
Millennials will soon be the biggest demographic in the workforce, which means the industry will need to change their approach to suit.
While they are amongst the fashion industry’s biggest spenders, they are also very different in their shopping habits.
Two thirds of Millennials prefer to shop online, meaning a digital presence is not only essential, but it needs to be up with current practices, standards and trends.
Sustainability is also a major factor in Millennial shopping decisions, with a third claiming they are more likely to buy from brands which are dedicated to social responsibilities.
With this change in the marketing demographic, companies need to adapt with the times or fall behind.
The arrival of the internet has changed everything, especially when it comes to business. And with billions of dollars being spent online every day, it’s a tempting target for criminals.
With ransomware on the rise, a company needs to be prepared in case of a cyber-attack, yet very few are. As technology and software grow and become increasingly intelligent, harder to detect, and more dangerous, one person can bring down an entire supply chain.
And it’s not necessarily for financial gain either. Some hackers simply want to create as much destruction to a company as possible – for no other reason than – they can!
Modern business, both large and small, need to be prepared for a digital attack, which can have very real consequences on the ground, from factories shutting down to customers’ information being stolen.
Looking towards the future
No matter what challenges lie ahead for the apparel industry, we will be here to meet them face-on.
Times are changing, and those companies that don’t change with them will surely be left behind.
That’s why we constantly keep up with the latest news, trends and technologies, which enables us to tackle any threats that may appear on the horizon.
Contact us today if you have any questions about how we can help your business meet the challenges of the future. Our friendly and helpful stall will be happy to answer any questions you may have.