In unity there is strength — or at least the global fashion industry hopes so.
On Wednesday, 66 organizations representing the global fashion, textile, footwear and travel goods industries issued a joint appeal to governments and financial institutions to move quickly to address the economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus. The organizations include the American Apparel and Footwear Association, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the British Fashion Council, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, the European Apparel and Textile Confederation, the China National Textile and Apparel Council and organizations from countries ranging from Egypt to Switzerland, Vietnam to Canada.
The appeal came on the same day leading brands, retailers, unions and the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) agreed to form an international working group to address the serious damage the coronavirus crisis has caused to the apparel industry worldwide. The working group will be convened by the International Labour Organization. Major brands and retailers endorsing the call to action include Ralph Lauren Corp., VF Corp., PVH Corp., H&M, Inditex, Adidas, Under Armour, Primark, Bestseller, C&A, Marks & Spencer, Next, Tchibo and Zalando.
The global organizations, in their appeal to governments, pointed to the need for action given that stores worldwide have been closed for weeks due to measures taken to contain the spread of COVID-19. “This lost revenue has had knock-on effects through the global supply chain,” the groups said, calling on governments and financial institutions to pass stimulus measures to ensure market liquidity; provide temporary duty and tariff relief, and not impose any further trade restrictions or prevent the manufacturing and delivery of PPE, intermediate products or raw materials needed for those products.
“In that vein, supply chain partners need to do their part, too,” the organizations said in a statement. “Individual companies should take action that minimize disruptions, facilitate payment for work that has been undertaken and ensure workers continue to be treated with full respect while ensuring their health and safety.”
Along those lines was the agreement to form the international working group overseen by the ILO to help support apparel manufacturers worldwide.
Primark said its latest commitment follows “extensive one-to-one conversations with our suppliers, which began four weeks ago and helped us to identify mitigating options, including extended payment terms.”
The company said its product and sourcing teams “would continue to work closely with suppliers to implement these plans.” The company said that where suppliers need new sources of credit, Primark would seek to assist by, “for example, demonstrating our commitment to orders, initiating conversations with international lenders and liaising with governments.”