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August 1, 2007
Women's Wear Journal
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US Congress Renews Ban
on Burma Imports
The US Senate and House of Representatives has renewed the import
restrictions ban against Burma, which had been due to expire on July 26.
The extension within the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 maintains for another year the import restrictions against the ruling
military junta in Burma due to its human rights violations.
The legislation was passed in the House by a voice vote on July 23.
The Senate passed the legislation by vote of 93-1 on July 24. The bill is now before President Bush.
New Formula for Measuring
Researchers in Hong Kong have come up with a new formula for measuring and sizing bras which they say will produce shapelier
outlines and greater comfort.
Instead of the 70-year-old method of calculating bra sizes by measuring around the ribcage and across the bust, they say that bra
sizes should be based on a new depth/width ratio.
Writing in the International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, the team from Hong Kong Polytechnic University team describes the
existing sizing system as "inappropriate."
The researchers, who report their work in the 'International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics,' claim more than 100 key measurements are
necessary to produce the perfect fit, but have identified eight factors as the basis for designing a bra.
These include the wearer's overall build, breast volume, inner, outer and lower breast shape, height, and gradient and orientation.
By using the depth/width ratio method, the number of existing bra sizes would be increased by between eight and 16 size combinations,
offering more choice.
China's 2007 Textile Exports
Expected to Slow
The growth of China's textile and clothing exports could slow to 16%
this year as government measures to reduce the country's trade surplus start to bite.
According to the country's economic planning agency, last year's textile and clothing exports rose by 25.2%, with overseas shipments
The National Development and Reform Commission now believes the value of exports in 2007 will total around US$165bn.
The slowdown in export growth is due to the appreciation of the yuan, which is weakening the price advantage of exported products;
restrictions on exports imposed by the US and EU; and Beijing's decision to cut export rebates for knitted and woven garments from
13% to 11% from July 1.
Customs figures show China's textile and garment exports were worth US$57.37bn in the first five months of this year, up 15.6%
by Lawrence O. Brown
Underwear and T-shirt maker Hanesbrands has seen its second quarter
profit fall by 57.1% as restructuring charges continue to hurt.
Net income for the quarter was US$25.4m compared to $59.3m last year, while earnings per share dropped to $0.26 as the company is trying to
cut costs following its spin-off from Sara Lee Corp in September 2006.
Hanesbrands, which in June announced the closure of nine production plants in four countries that employed around 5,000 workers, said
second quarter net sales were up by $2m on last year to $1.12bn.
"We are very pleased with the progress we have made in moving production to lower-cost countries and reducing costs," said CEO
Richard A Noll.
"While we continue to reap the benefits from these past actions, we are focused on executing our latest production moves and
organizational streamlining to gain additional benefits. We are now slightly ahead of schedule with our cost-reduction and
On July 9, Hanes launched its "Look Who" national advert featuring actor Cuba Gooding and basketball great Michael Jordan. The men's
campaign follows the All-Over Comfort Bra advertising launch in March featuring Jennifer Love Hewitt.
Noll said "Sales in the quarter were comparable to a year ago, and our expanded margins for the first half were driven by strong cost
controls. Our cash flow allowed us to make additional prepayments on long-term debt and repurchase shares in the quarter."
Sri Lanka Lobbies for
Access Into US
Sri Lanka's garment industry is looking at getting preferential
access into the US through new laws that are on the horizon there.
In June, industry representatives visited Washington to lobby for preferential treatment for Sri Lankan garments.
The Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) said the visit was "extremely encouraging," and is hopeful of getting "some kind of
preferential access" into the US in the medium term.
"We are looking at a number of options to do this, including proposed new legislation and of course our ethical manufacturing standards,"
said JAAF chairman Ajith Dias.
The industry hopes to use two new laws that are in the pipeline in the US - the Decent Workplace Conditions and Fair Competition Act of
2007 and the Tax Relief Assistance for Developing Economies Act of 2007.
Because of the already high standard of labor laws and worker welfare measures in Sri Lanka, local garment factories are expected
to qualify for concessions under these two laws once they are implemented.
The JAAF is also lobbying for a special GSP scheme from the US, similar to the EU's GSP+ scheme, on the basis of ethical
manufacturing standards. The US' exiting GSP scheme does not give duty concessions for garments.
To drum up support for Sri Lanka's cause in Washington, the industry plans to hire professional help.
"We have asked the government [of Sri Lanka] to help us obtain the services of a professional lobbyist to promote our cause in the US,"
Alok to Process Organic
Cotton for Limited Brands
Yarn, fabric and garment maker Alok Industries Ltd has teamed up with
Sri Lankan intimate apparel producer MAS Intimates and a cotton grower in Burkina Faso to process organic cotton for lingerie that
will be sold by Victoria's Secret.
Under the agreement announced July 24, Union Nationale Des Producteurs De Cotton Du Burkina Faso will produce and supply organic
Fair Trade cotton to Alok Industries for production into finished fabrics.
MAS will then use these fabrics to produce intimate wear for sale to Limited Brands, owner of the Victoria's Secret chain.
The companies say the initiative ensures sustainable resources of raw materials, empowers women workers and guarantees a Fair Trade price
for growers of organic cotton in Burkina Faso.
Mandelson Looks For
Joint Trade Responsibility
EU trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson is working to dampen hopes of robust EU protection against Chinese clothing and textile exports to Europe after China secures full trading rights on the December 31 2007.
From that day, the full World Trade Organization agreement on textile and clothing will apply to Chinese exporters, and that effectively means all bets are off - if EU importers want to buy, China will supply.
Mandelson has been meeting with EU textile producers, importers and retailers, as well as Chinese officials, to stress the need for an orderly transition to full
liberalization, especially following the boom in exports that damaged EU producers in 2005. China has agreed to set up a working group to coordinate joint action should there be further problems, and speaking in Brussels, Mandelson has said: "I am sending a clear signal that I expect China to show a joint sense of partnership and responsibility in handling these difficult trade issues."
In reality, his hands are largely tied, the temporary EU-China agreement following the initial export boom imposes no restrictions on EU imports for 2008 but "commits both sides to joint responsibility for the management of a smooth transition to open trade in textiles in 2008". If there are problems, the EU could re-impose temporary controls, but the extent to which these could be continued may be affected by the outcome of the WTO's Doha Development Round, subject to intense negotiations from September 3.
CBP Increases Checks on Country of Origin
The Hong Kong Trade and Industry Department has notified exporters
through a circular on its website that US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers will visit textile factories in the city
over a two-week period next month to check the country of origin of apparel products.
From August 10-24, CBP "jump teams" will inspect production facilities in Hong Kong and assess the effectiveness of Hong Kong's
origin control system - set up to ensure that textiles and clothing exports claiming HK origin are genuinely manufactured in the city.
US Customs normally undertakes visits to textile production centers, like Hong Kong, on an annual or bi-annual basis with its special
agents and import experts verifying whether factories have the capability to produce the type of textile and amount that they claim.
With more and more goods passing through intermediate production stages in several countries it has become an increasingly difficult
task for customs agencies to determine the country where the majority of the work was completed.
In order to avoid higher duties, quotas or embargoes in place for certain countries, some importers have been known to mislabel the
country of origin on their goods. Hong Kong is frequently under the microscope in this respect as many goods are often produced in China
and trucked over the border for final packaging and dispatch.
Wacoal Down 16.3%
Women's apparel group Wacoal Holdings has posted first quarter net income of JPY2.77bn (US$22.3m), down 16.3% compared to the same period last year.
Sales at the Japanese company fell 0.9% to JPY39.6bn during the same period.
Wacoal said that sales of spring campaign product Lalan were below initial plans, and that core summer products, especially strapless-type and seamless-type brassieres, showed poor performance.
"Our overseas business continued to show favorable results in the United States due to an in increase in high-end consumers and stores that cater to them, and sales grew strongly versus sales from the same period of the previous fiscal year. Furthermore, China, where we restored profitability during the previous fiscal year, continues to show an upward trend," the company said.
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