Apparel and Footwear Industry Recap 2016
Between unexpected political and trade shifts and new developments in technology, 2016 has been a wild year. Before we end the year, we’d like to take a few moments to look back over the biggest topics and trends that affected the footwear and apparel industries over the last 12 months.
- Climate Change
2016 is on track to be the warmest year on record. These increasing temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns can spur mold growth and be particularly difficult for manufacturers and shippers. El Niño drove warmer temperatures earlier this year, but weather extremes have continued. In fact, much of the year belonged to a string of 16 straight months during which the average global temperature set a record high. During the spring months, rainfall in Guangdong increased an average of 211 percent compared to the same period in 2015. Rainfall also increased in Fujian, though the increase was not as pronounced as in Guangdong. Inland flooding also hit hard in several areas across China over the summer, destroying lives and property.
Counterfeiting is an ongoing problem for many apparel and footwear brands. The reputation and role of Chinese shopping portal Alibaba has been a point of contention for some high end brands, and organizations like the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) have been placed in the middle of the debate. While Micro-Pak’s products continue to be the target of imitations, we saw several positive developments. These include successful legal action against several Indian companies dealing in counterfeit Micro-Pak products.
- Sustainability and transparency
Consumers and governments are now paying more attention than ever to the environmental impact of their purchases. This trend has led to the surge of “green” clothing brands and fashion liens as well as an overall shift towards increased transparency. The growth of metrics like the Higg Index, Cradle to Cradle Certification, and Greenblue’s Material IQ are making it easier for brands around the world to assess and improve their operations.
- Shifting global markets
Between new trade deals and changing manufacturing locations, this year saw some major market shakeups. Countries like Vietnam and Ethiopia are experiencing economic growth overall and in the apparel industry, while parts of China are showing signs of a long-term shift away from factory jobs. Micro-Pak’s growth parallels industry changes, and we’ve opened new offices in Vietnam and Bangladesh in the last 12 months. Speculation about the potential implementation of the TPP and TTIP have also had a global impact on trade markets.
Technology is changing our world, and the apparel and footwear industries are no exception. While not yet available for most consumers, wearable technology is on the rise. Nike’s self-lacing shoes are straight out of “Back to the Future,” and biometric shirts are showing up at tradeshows. New developments in recycled fibers and automated manufacturing may also be indicative of major industry moves in coming years.