IAF focuses on RMG supply chains

16 November 2022 at 04:55

Last Modified: 16 November 2022, 05.04 PM

Infographic by TBS

Infographic: TBS

Infographic by TBS

One of the first actions taken by Western brands during the Covid-19 pandemic collapse was to cancel orders already placed. 

During Covid-19, which was the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, at least 1931 brands cancelled or delayed orders worth $3.7bn from garment factories.

Suppliers were left in the dust after buyers cancelled their orders. 

“When we had been facing ruin as orders from Western brands collapsed during the Covid pandemic, nobody was willing to take any responsibility – leaving us sink or swim,” Miran Ali, vice president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said. 

This bitter experience was a learning opportunity. 

The International Apparel Federation’s (IAF) 2021 agenda will focus on fair distribution of risk between buyers and sellers. 

The IAF, a global network that unites (SME) manufacturers, brands and associations, has created a list of six priorities. It identified the urgent need to rebuild trust. 

The IAF began focusing on supply chain issues, guided by the urgent need for industry transformation in a changing world. 

“We believe that the supply chains must be updated in order to function properly, both literally and figuratively. It should have a greater sense equity. It is because of this that the IAF has teamed-up with the STAR Network, GIZ and Better Buying as part of a project in the which approximately ten associations will create their recommendations for payment or delivery terms,” it stated in one its priorities. 

“Even though the intentions are often good, purchasing practices are more an offer by buyers…The financial flows fuelling the supply chain including a fairer distribution of risk and reward are a major part of this new contract and IAF is developing both guidance and concrete services to its members in this area,” it said. 

Another way that the IAF prepares for the future is to adapt to the core values and policies which will gain prominence, but come at a high price.

According to IAF, the best way to green the industry is to have a broad supply chain and collaborate approach. However, it is not enough to make pledges to lower CO2 emissions. 

“The supply chain must share the costs and rewards of transformation. The financial sector can bridge these gaps. It is important to spread education throughout the supply chain. It noted that consumers can make a difference, but they must be able to rely on green claims to support their purchasing decisions.” 

The organisation noted circularity – the practice of encouraging reuse, recycling, or sustainability in consumption, manufacturing – as the most effective method to reduce the pressure on climate exerted by the apparel industry.

The IAF will also “focus on bringing manufacturers’ voices into the global industry infrastructure being built to reduce the apparel’s global environmental footprint.” 

Faruque Hassan – president of BGMEA – stated in this regard that “The apparel industry has made remarkable progress in the area sustainability, workers wellbeing and industrial relations over the past decade.  

“Buyers are appreciative of our efforts in sustainability, but they don’t want to pay the additional cost.” They state that consumers aren’t yet willing to pay more for sustainable products.

Other priorities of the IAF include institutional infrastructure, education, training, transparency, and digitisation.

IAF believes the apparel sector needs a better, more inclusive, global infrastructure.

This is one of the goals.

This project was undertaken by the International Textile Manufacturers Federation and the IAF. 

Industry players often raise the problem of having to repeat the audit process which can be costly and time-consuming. In this context, the IAF has demanded a standardised audit.
The industry has also recognized education and training as the “engine for positive change.” 

“The IAF membership has always included schools, universities and colleges that are specialized in fashion management or technology. The IAF fosters interaction between academia and industry through these connections and collaborations with IFFTI (the International Federation of Fashion Technology Institutes). 

IAF will work to improve global coordination of industry education in line with our goal to create a stronger international institutional infrastructure for the industry. Global coordination involves alignment of priorities, quality, as well as efforts to reduce overlap. It said that we don’t want ourselves to suffer from ‘training fatigue’.

The IAF has partnered with many multilateral organizations in order to facilitate a more structured transfer and sharing of knowledge, especially for industry associations. 

Cem Atlan, President of the IAF, pointed out that climate issues could lead to a decline in fast fashion. Cem Atlan said that Bangladesh will need international educators to show how designs can be made for Europe and America. 

You can have your own culture, but international designers are required for international markets. Each factory should have its own collection. When customers come to the factory, you can show the collection – different embroidery, print techniques, washing technology.”

The IAF will also emphasize the all-out, all forces-joined drive to digitisation.

“When suppliers are better integrated into a collaborative, complex supply chain, it makes it more difficult for suppliers to work with them. This strengthens their position. It stated that digitizing the industry is dependent on education and training because of its complexity.

The IAF stressed that it was important to speed up efforts to increase transparency in its supply chain. 

“It is important that information flows back and forth in a trustful and extensive manner, as well as physical goods and cash. It noted that transparency is crucial to build more responsive supply chain, improve sustainability, and to meet the demands of civil society as well as government.

The IAF’s mission, which is to bring together all parties in the fashion and clothing industry (brands, retailers and manufacturers, suppliers and associations from countries around the world) to create and promote smarter and stronger supply chains. 

“Buyers’ conduct at the start of the pandemic often was the exact opposite of collaboration and the breach of trust created caused damage to supply chains that needs to be repaired… the IAF has formulated a strategy for strengthening supply chains that will help repair this damage, prevent new damage and will go much further to contribute to the creation of a stronger, smarter and more sustainable industry,” it said. 

The IAF will enforce a strict rule to ensure that foul play is not the new norm.

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