The Evolving Apparel Industry in Asia—Discussion Questions from FASH455

#1 Do you think that automation and digitization will be more beneficial or harmful to the fashion/garment industry specifically when it concerns developing countries, such as Bangladesh and Cambodia? How will this affect the shift of production/supply chains?

#2 Who will be the “winners” and “losers” in the fashion industry’s shift to proximity-driven production? In your opinion, will the Western Hemisphere textile and apparel supply chain survive as the competition from “Factory Asia?” intensifies?

#3 We have read previously about the fact that Bangladesh is becoming an increasingly popular spot for apparel manufacturing as an alternative to sourcing from China. One of the reasons that Bangladesh is popular is because of the fact that labor is so inexpensive. However, do you think this “death of fast fashion” could repress Bangladesh’s ability to surpass China (i.e., “being cheap” is no longer that important)? Do you think that Bangladesh should continue to invest in new technologies or will cheap labor remain its only advantage?

#4 Pressure from global clothing brands is forcing manufacturers to turn to automation and digitalization, but this is also reducing the amount of human labor needed. This is a growing tradeoff that has yet to be resolved. Do you think there is any feasible solution that will allow manufacturers to remain efficient and cheap enough to attract buyers and still require human labor? If so, what could it be? And if you don’t think so, why?

#5 Why or why not do you think the U.S.-China trade war and COVID-19 will significantly shift U.S. fashion companies’ sourcing strategy, particularly regarding China and Asia?

(Welcome to our online discussion. For students in FASH455, please answer question #5 + one question from #1-4 in your reply) 

The discussion is closed for this post.

Related: The Changing Face of Textile and Apparel “Made in Asia”

Author: Sheng Lu

Professor @ University of Delaware

32 thoughts on “The Evolving Apparel Industry in Asia—Discussion Questions from FASH455”

  1. #5: I think that U.S. fashion companies will change their sourcing strategies in order to diversify their sourcing locations. Before the Coronavirus pandemic even began, retailers were looking to source from cheaper countries than China, such as Bangladesh and Vietnam. Cheap labor is driving retailers to look beyond the scope of just China, which will most likely lead to them sourcing from more countries. I think that the U.S.-China trade war and COVID19 will sway retailers from China, but will still keep U.S. retailers in Asia. One of the most important qualities of sourcing destinations is finding the cheapest labor possible, and that is still found in Asian countries. I think that a possible outcome, however, from COVID19 could be that retailers will want to be more sustainable. If this is true, retailers may choose to diversify their sourcing even beyond Asia in order to find higher quality products where labor costs are fairer for garment workers.
    #1: I think that automation and digitization will be more beneficial to the fashion/garment industry for developed nations, but also for developing nations such as Bangladesh and Cambodia. I would anticipate a short-term consequence to be a rise in unemployment, as automation would require less human labor. However, having proper machines would hopefully be safer for workers, and would allow for greater efficiency in production. I think that the shift from all human labor to automation combined with human labor could really help developing countries in restructuring their economies to export a larger variety of products, while also retraining those out of jobs to work in positions that are safer and higher-paying. Having cheap human labor is not viable in the long-term for developing countries, as they might be stuck at a certain economic level without the possibility of advancing. I think that supply chains would involve fewer parties as a result of this change because automation could make it more efficient to complete multiple stages of production at once.

    1. I totally agree that this virus is going to make companies think twice about diversifying their locations so that all production does not have to come to a halt. Ultimately, many companies want to be cost-efficient in making sure that they are still gaining revenue while spending money on quality goods. I think that the pandemic is a driving force in companies rethinking these sourcing options and starting to source in other countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam. Especially with these regions starting to become technologically advanced, it will increase their appeal and comparative advantage compared to that of other countries. Automation and digitization can really help developing countries and their economies grow. The only concern is making sure that technology does not completely take over garment factories so that employees can still work and have a source of income, which also stimulates overall economic growth.

  2. #3. I do think that the “death of fast fashion” will repress Bangladesh’s ability to surpass China because ultimately, manufacturers and companies are looking for the cheapest prices. While fast-fashion brands are focused on more affordable and cheap clothing, along with tight production deadlines, luxury brands focus on quality goods that take time to make. Ultimately, Bangladeshi garment workers are not used to making high quality goods. If luxury brands decide to work with Bangladeshi garment factories, this will ultimately lower the quality and price that consumers pay for their products as well. Whereas the cost of fast fashion products tend to match the production labor found in Bangladesh. While I do think that the “death of fast fashion” would be a great opportunity for Bangladeshi workers to obtain higher wages and standard of living, I do think that overall it would negatively affect and shift the entire fashion industry and economy. I think that if Bangladeshi factories invested in more technological advancements that this could further benefit them in being prosperous if fast fashion eventually dies out. It could also help to stray them away from the stereotype of cheap garment production within the region. Also, technology is constantly advancing everyday so I do not think it would hurt to keep up with those innovations in order to gain a comparative advantage over other competing regions like China.
    #5. I think that the U.S.-China trade war will significantly shift fashion companies sourcing strategies because many of them will continue to look at cheaper, offshore sourcing options in order to gain more of a profit for their companies. Ultimately, companies are more concerned with lower production costs that allow them to gain more revenue. I think that COVID-19 is going to produce a big realization about the long-term effects of the continuation of sourcing operations within China. Since many U.S. companies are not able to function as properly due to their sourcing options being cut off due to the virus, these companies are going to find more domestic ways of manufacturing goods. If a virus like this occurs again in the fall of 2020, it’s going to cause many more detrimental affects to companies manufacturing goods abroad. Companies are now going to want to be prepared because sourcing from foreign regions during this time has made things much more difficult for them to continue their everyday operations and make a profit.

  3. #5
    I do think the large impact of COVID-19 will shift US fashion companies sourcing strategies especially with Asia. To be honest since the large tax inputs with import & exports with China many US fashion companies were scrambling to find new places to source from because with the large imposed taxes it made them realize financially they couldn’t afford the long lasting impacts.Now with this pandemic it is making it more evident that it is super important for these US fashion companies to diversify their sourcing. Not only is it preventative for imposing taxes on goods, it also will allow the US to not rely on one country that is what really messed up alot of production. Having multiple countries for sourcing would allow the hold up that happened earlier this year to not be as drastic as it was. I think this will have the US fashion companies look at alternatives such as Thailand or Vietnam will result them to pull away from investing all sourcing in only China.

    The main factor that is steering companies away from investing fully in full automation is the cost of the machines are super expensive. I do see the positives in having automation because it allows quicker production and saves the company money to invest in other aspects in their company. In the WSJ video it was said that in order for Bangladesh to keep pace with the expanding labor force 2 million jobs need to be added, but in the past year the amount of jobs fell to only 60,000 available. One solution that was proposed by a MIT economist was that people need to step up and gain an education like how Japan & the United States are. But his solution is so hard to attain when women who are the majority of the garment factory workers can barely read. The only solution I can see is that automation should be used on garments that do not need such expertise of hand work. For example, automation would be great in t-shirts, denim mainly basic items. Where as items that require more skilled labor like dresses, jackets, shoes, etc those can keep human labor. It is not an all around 100% solution but at least many garment workers can keep their jobs and focus their time more on those higher skilled garments.

    1. I also did question #5 and also felt that the pandemic accelerated the process of diversifying sourcing options. The pandemic is making companies/countries realize that they should not have all their eggs in one basket when it comes to manufacturing their garments, especially in China where the outbreak was extremely bad. This further stopped many countries from producing garment and engaging in their normal operations. Therefore, it has an effect on companies actually selling and making profit off of their products. It will forever have a big impact on how the country gets involved in trade and sourcing matters. I expect that other countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam will begin to prosper and take the place of China.

  4. #1 I think automation and digitization could be beneficial to the fashion industry in developing countries like Bangladesh and Cambodia but I believe it can be harmful to the people of these countries. Automation can improve productivity, quality of garments, improve consistently of factories, and allow finished products to be made quicker. While all these things can help the apparel industry for companies who may be having problems with such things, automation can affect communities of people in developing countries. More automation means fewer factory workers in these countries and that means more people will be laid off from their main income. Factory working is the main job for many women in these countries so they would be the ones suffering greatly.

    #5 I believe the trade war and COVID-19 will significantly shift U.S. fashion companies’ sourcing strategy in China and Asia. Many companies were already dealing with high tariffs and were trying to find new factories to source through to stay afloat. This current COVID-19 situation will now show these companies how important it is to source in other countries. By sourcing in different countries, companies can be a little more prepared for crises and pick factories with proper ethical standards. It will also be beneficial when the demand for fashion goods begins. Many supply chains will most likely be overwhelmed with orders; therefore, having multiple sourcing grounds can help companies meet the demand when it is present again.

  5. # 1 Automation and digitization is beneficial because it attracts production to developing countries like Bangladesh and Cambodia, but it’s also shifting the way that production and supply chains are performing. Like the article about the fire in the Tazreen factory in Bangladesh, human labor in developing countries typically means poor and dangerous working conditions that result in both injury and death. These conditions need to be improved, and automation offers that improvement, but also reduces the need for human labor. While this change leaves many without jobs, I think it is more beneficial than harmful to the countries. This improves working conditions, which I believe should be the overall goal, and once this goal is met, the next move should be to change automation so that it involves more human labor.

  6. 5. COVID-19 won’t have that strong of an effect on U.S. fashion companies’ sourcing strategies. I think fashion companies will continue to import from China and other Asian countries if they remain to be the cheapest source of manufacturers. Most companies primarily care about saving money, not the well-being of employees, or any potential issues that may arise. But if labor becomes cheaper elsewhere, with lower tariffs, companies may shift their sourcing strategies somewhere else and diversify their market.

    1. At first, automation and digitization will be harmful to the fashion/garment industry in developing countries. People will get laid off from jobs that are taken by machines and unemployment will increase. In the long run, automation and digitization will be beneficial to these developing countries because it will modernize their countries and increase exports, which will grow the nation’s economy. An increase in a nation’s economy will lead to more opportunities, such as an increase in the job market and in education.

  7. #1.

    The use of digitalization and automation is extremely beneficial for developing countries like Bangladesh and Cambodia. Human labor is often the easiest way to get something done but it can be extremely dangerous due to poor working conditions. A good example of this is the Tazreen factor. Throughout the years and with working conditions coming to light, people are becoming more aware of the mistreatment of people in factories such as Tazreen.

  8. #5 I believe that U.S. fashion companies’ sourcing strategy that has influence from China will change due to the trade war as well as COVID-19. Prior to the pandemic companies were already beginning to rethink their sourcing strategies by diversifying the countries that they utilize for manufacturing. I think that U.S. companies will still have their facilities located in Asia but not rely as heavily on China. I also believe that companies will do more research on where they source, ensuring that products are made with wages that are fair to the workers as well as implement sustainable practices.

    #1 Automation and digitization in the fashion/garment industry will be both beneficial and harmful to developing countries such as Bangladesh and Cambodia. Workers in these countries will benefit from this technological innovation by no longer working in poor conditions and receiving poor wages. The countries will also gain economic development with this modernizing innovation through efficient production and will increase exports and grow the economy. However, many jobs in this industry will be lost as machines will take over and people will suffer from this. They will have to learn new skills and educate themselves to adapt to these new times.

  9. The discovery and use of digitalization and automation is very much beneficial for the developing countries seen in this video like Cambodia and Bangladesh. While human labor is the most convenient way to get things done efficiently, it can also be very dangerous due to the lack of safety and good working conditions. With more and more unethical working conditions coming to light throughout the years like that of the Tazreen factory, the world is becoming more aware of where and who we are sourcing our apparel from as well as the mistreatment of those who work in these factories. Hopefully this will help improve conditions of those who are being mistreated.

  10. #1- I think that automation and digitization can be a good and bad thing. At first glimpse one could see that with all of these new machines and technology being put into place that working people in developing countries will be losing jobs and getting laid off because these machines are essentially replacing them. However, after that fact I think automation and digitization will actually be quite beneficial and productive to countries that are in the stages of developing because it will help update and improve their country as a whole. These countries will be able to increase supply chains and boost exports which in return will grow the economy and make a better country for the citizens living there. Unfortunately, the workers that get laid off will have to search for new jobs and master new skills and techniques to acclimate to new technology.

  11. #1: I think that automation and digitization will both benefit and harm developing Asian countries that manufacture apparel. For benefits, it will help grow the economy of the country as new technology is created and utilized in order to have better and faster manufacturing, a wider variety of options to retailers, cheaper costs of labor, etc. This is the transition from a developing country to a developed country. However, right now these developing countries are providing labor to many unskilled workers who are extremely reliant on these jobs as a way of life. If automation and digitization grows, they will be put out of work because a machine now does their job. There needs to be an increase in education in tandem with technology so the economy can grow as well as the workforce in that country.

    #5: I believe the U.S./China trade war and COVID-19 will have significant effects on the Asian manufacturing industry. For years, China has been the leading manufacturer and exporter in Asia, with so much advantage that its competitors had no hope of challenging them. But with Trump’s fight for tariffs, it opened the door for countries like Vietnam and Bangladesh to offer retailers cheaper manufacturing. Furthermore, at the spread of COVID-19, China faced serious losses to manufacturing as factories had to close or turn to making medical supplies. While this is happening, other Asian countries are furthering their opportunity to partner with U.S. retailers to source and produce goods for them. In addition, COVID-19 gave other Asian countries faster lead times in comparison to China, who had to slow or stop manufacturing altogether. I think COVID-19 is the bigger contributor to these changes than the trade war, but both are providing great opportunities to other developing Asian countries to be leading manufacturers in the T&A Industry. This is a good thing for the development of Asian countries as a whole, but bad for the Chinese economy.

  12. #5: I can’t imagine a significant shift away from sourcing from Asia within the foreseeable future. With the trade war and COVID-19, along with rising wages in China, I do think that there will be some reduced sourcing from China, but I think that will just mean increased sourcing from other Asian countries like Vietnam and Bangladesh; wherever companies can find the next cheapest costs. That is, after all, the bottom line. Companies will always turn to wherever their orders can best be fulfilled at the lowest cost. What incentives do they have to source domestically, or from Europe/South America/Africa? Free trade agreements could potentially encourage some domestic sourcing, but often times the absence of tariffs does not compensate for the higher costs, or compliance is too difficult, or the required goods are simply not available. African countries are emerging as sourcing destinations because of low labor costs and trade programs, but their production capacity is much more limited than that of many Asian countries.
    Shifting away from Asia as the biggest sourcing hub would probably require complete restructuring of the entire global industry, or at least gradual developments on a long-term scale. We may see more changes over time as national economies develop further and adjust their manufacturing and trade practices accordingly.

    #4: I can’t really think of any feasible solutions that will balance automation and human labor within the T&A industry, beyond policy changes. As we discussed in class, more advanced and capital abundant countries like the U.S. tend to specialize in textile manufacturing which can easily be automated. Developing countries that are labor abundant tend to specialize in apparel manufacturing, which is not so easily automated. I think the U.S. will continue to digitize to reduce costs and increase efficiency as much as possible. Apparel manufacturing still largely requires human labor from other countries, so there is a balance in an international sense, but not within one country alone. Because of high wages within the U.S., it is not so cost-effective to increase the use of human labor. The loss of jobs resulting from automation will have to be made up for in other areas and industries that cannot be easily automated. In the U.S. T&A industry, there are opportunities in areas like research and development, management, and marketing, but they usually require higher education which is not often accessible to much of the available labor force. Perhaps making education more (financially) accessible could help retain human labor in increasingly-digital industries – but that would require policy changes by the government.

  13. #1 Do you think that automation and digitization will be more beneficial or harmful to the fashion/garment industry specifically when it concerns developing countries, such as Bangladesh and Cambodia? How will this affect the shift of production/supply chains?

    I believe that ultimately automation and digitization will be more beneficial to the fashion/garment industry. This is because it gives those developing countries the chance to expand into other sectors. Given the proper education, the workers in those countries could begin to develop other products such as technology. That would also raise their Net incomes and allow the countries to develop more. While that is happening, the automation and digitization will still allow the countries to make money by producing clothing and other garments.

    #5 Why or why not do you think the U.S.-China trade war and COVID-19 will significantly shift U.S. fashion companies’ sourcing strategy, particularly regarding China and Asia?

    I think both issues will drastically shift US fashion sourcing. The trade war was already beginning to shift the countries we source from, giving more business to Vietnam, Japan, and Bangladesh. COVID-19, however horrible and racist, has created an aversion to China and anything coming from there. I believe that this will not have immediate effects, but will have long term effects on where US companies source from.

  14. #5 Why or why not do you think the U.S.-China trade war and COVID-19 will significantly shift U.S. fashion companies’ sourcing strategy, particularly regarding China and Asia?
    Prior to Covid-19 companies were already rethinking their supply chain and beginning to diversify where they
    produced to find the cheapest option that didn’t have tax restrictions. I don’t believe that there will be a significant production shift from China and Asia since this is a very critical time and many companies will need to utilize established relationships to get orders out. However, I do think this will serve as a wake up call for companies to not produce from one area because if anything were to go wrong it could financially hurt them. When demand for apparel increases again I think U.S. fashion companies will begin to expand their supply chain, looking to add on other countries such as Vietnam and Bangladesh in order to fulfill bulk orders. Another possibility is that more U.S. companies will begin producing domestically. In the video it said that factories have begun to open up in the West using efficient technologies, which would allow retailers to get goods to their customers quickly. U.S. fashion companies are going to want to be prepared and build new relationships so if something like this were to happen again they would have options in order to conduct business.
    #1 Do you think that automation and digitization will be more beneficial or harmful to the fashion/garment industry specifically when it concerns developing countries, such as Bangladesh and Cambodia? How will this affect the shift of production/supply chains?
    I think that automation and digitization will be harmful to developing countries at first. The apparel industry has provided tons of jobs for people who have very little education. If these jobs were stripped away from them by technology they would have very limited options to make a living and would be forced to learn new skills. However, if automation becomes more popular, developing companies would be able to export more products which in the long run would increase their economies and could create better lives for it’s people. Overall, automation and digitization will change the ways that developing countries have functioned, which will eliminate poor working conditions and create a more modernized system.

  15. #5 I think that the US-Chine trade war and COVID-19 will shift U.S. fashion companies supply chain strategies especially away from China and Asia in the long-run. I don’t think that this shift will be immediate. However, I do feel that the move to a localized supply chain will be accelerated. Consumers could be hesitant to purchase goods from China since the Coronavirus outbreak started there. Production overseas could be delayed or shut down and slow to start back up again. In order to have more control over their supply chains if another event like this should occur, American fashion companies could be thinking of sourcing option located in the Western Hemisphere. Automation will play a large part in this shift since it can keep labor costs low.

    #2 If the garment industry does shift their supply chains to be more localized the developing countries will be the losers. These countries do not have the capital to purchase automated machines and compete with major players like the U.S. and China. They also do not have a wealthy population to consume these garments. The winners will be the developed countries with the most capital like the U.S. and China. They can support and automated industry and consume a lot of apparel. When comparing China and the U.S. it is clear that the U.S. will have some catching up to do since we have not produced apparel locally is several decades.

  16. #5 The US-China trade war and COVID-19 will significantly change the U.S. companies sourcing strategies. COVID-19 alone will change the way many fashion brands source their companies and stores. These two situations have shown how dramatically the fashion industry can be affected by this global shut down. I think the U.S. companies are realizing that they need to diversify their sourcing if it is mainly in China and that they can not be reliant on one country to source all their products from. They will need to decrease their sourcing from China. This will also hopefully decrease the number of overwhelming order sizes and overproduction. The U.S. fashion companies are going to have to come up with a creative solution to keep their businesses afloat during this time and the future.
    #1 I am concerned that the digitization will be very harmful in the beginning of the implementation. Countries like Bangladesh, whose economy is mainly built upon the garment industry, will try to compete with the automation. This could potentially create very unsafe working conditions for laborers in these countries, lower wages even though they are at record low numbers, and unethical treatment of workers. This could also cause a major economic depression for countries like Bangladesh, many people will lose their jobs and do not have high enough education levels to apply for other jobs. There are not many industries in Bangladesh other than the garment industry, making it very difficult to get jobs outside of the industry. The answer of most professionals to this problem is to educate these people to get better jobs, but many of these individuals are illiterate and unable to learn past their garment worker skills. Overall the future of automation will create a safer manufacturing industry to work in, but it will have a very long and difficult cost before it reaches that point. If the implementation of these technologies could be slowed down to some extend to give these developing countries a chance to diversify their economies before the automation takes over their jobs that could be a helpful solution to this problem.

  17. #5 Why or why not do you think the U.S.-China trade war and COVID-19 will significantly shift U.S. fashion companies’ sourcing strategy, particularly regarding China and Asia?
    —I think both the U.S. & China trade war as well as COVID-19 were the final breaking points in shifting U.S. fashion companies sourcing strategies outside of China. Prior to both of these events, sourcing outside of China was being investigated. I believe they will continue to source inside of Asia but source from a variety of different countries. As seen with the COVID-19 threat, when China shut down, American fashion companies were cornered because they were only sourcing from China. Moving forward, diversifying their sourcing strategies and locations will benefit in the long run and combat any unforeseen circumstances. With such strong financial impacts brought on by both, fashion brands will look at the cheapest, most cost effective place to source from.

    #1 Do you think that automation and digitization will be more beneficial or harmful to the fashion/garment industry specifically when it concerns developing countries, such as Bangladesh and Cambodia? How will this affect the shift of production/supply chains?
    —I think the idea of automation and digitization is both helpful and harmful to the developing countries. It will be helpful in a sense of manufacturing more quickly, saving time, reducing labor costs, reducing labor settings, enforcing ethics and lowering overall costs for the suppliers. It also is harmful in a sense that it will increase unemployment since it will replace thousands of workers, it will create a divide between the rich and poor since technology is expensive and most factories may not be able to afford it. Technology might increase costs to the buyers as the supplier will charge more in order to purchase and operate the equipment. Developing countries have a strength of providing work to those who are under-qualified and technology would replace this strength. I think at first the automation and digitization will be harmful and will require serious adjustment issues and in the long run will be beneficial in encouraging development and economic success.

  18. #5: I believe the effect that COVID-19 will have on US China trade will be very apparent. It is known that the US was looking to diversify sourcing even before the Corona outbreak was in question so sourcing could have definitely decreased anyways. But I read in another article, that consumers may be interested in retailer’s moral and safety precautions in every step of their garment production process, so this means consumers may want to shop more responsibly. After going through impacts of COVID-19 safety precautions, shoppers are starting to realize how factories and workers need these safety guidelines all the time and may change their way in shopping in that they are more willing to pay more to shop from responsible and safe retailers rather than retailers that source from cheaper locations, like locations in Asia, that may not have safe working environments and this may cause a trend of US retailer to shift away from Asian sourcing in order to please their consumers.
    #1. I think this may have a poor impact on countries like Bangladesh regarding digitalization because a developing country like Bangladesh, may not have the resources readily available to dive into such a new advancement and rely heavily on being an inexpensive source for retailers rather than being technologically advanced. I think this impact will also create a shift to other sourcing locations that can adapt better to digitalization for the sake of attraction US retailers to source from them.

  19. #1 In my opinion, automation and digitization will be more harmful to the fashion/garment industry specifically when it concerns developing countries, such as Bangladesh and Cambodia. For example, Bangladesh’s economy relies on the garment manufacturing industry. It provides more than three million manufacturing jobs, 81% of exports, and has pulled a large number of people out of poverty. Although the implementation of automation technology would solve the problem of poor work environments, I don’t think the benefits would outweigh the risks. Of course if every retail company began producing with automation technology, garment workers wouldn’t have to face long hours, unsafe conditions, and things like sexual harassment for extremely low wages, but they also wouldn’t be making any money at all. A lot of the time, garment workers have worked the same job since they were young and don’t know any other skills to be successful at a new job. The problems the laid off workers would face would be tougher than the conditions they currently face.

    #3 Many retailers prefer to source from countries like Bangladesh because labor is extremely cheap. Recently among consumers, there has been an increase in a demand for “slow fashion”. Consumers are becoming more aware of the environmental impact of fast fashion and want to shy away from it. I do not think the “death of fast fashion” could repress Bangladesh’s ability to surpass China. Although the demand for fast fashion is decreasing, I don’t think it is going anywhere any time soon. Especially now with such a high unemployment rate. Consumers are still going to have that want for more, but their spending isn’t going to be as high so they will still turn to fast fashion. Still, I think it would be a good idea for Bangladesh to invest in new technologies so they can continue to compete with other countries like China.

  20. #1
    This is a great question. In my opinion, I think that this could be harmful to develop countries such as Bangladesh and Cambodia. This countries are only currently making basic products that do not need that much technology. They are barely making enough money to cover these basic products. I do not see them being able to afford to invest in new technologies to make more advanced garments on their own. Not only that but it will decrease employment and force these countries into even more poverty.

  21. #1: I think that overall automation and digitization will not be more beneficial to the fashion industry when it concerns developing countries. I don’t believe that this is a positive thing because many of these countries have people working in apparel manufacturing, and they rely on these wages to get a better quality of life. If technology begins to produce apparel so many of those people will lose their jobs and it could lead to many disparaging things to happen to them. A lot of developing countries, like Bangladesh and Cambodia, are extremely reliant on their manufacturing sector for economic growth and this has been the main reason for countries getting back on their feet. I think that more automation in production would be really drastic for them.

    #5: I think that the U.S. China trade war and COVID-19 pandemic will significantly shift U.S. fashion companies sourcing strategies particularly China and Asia. I think many fashion retailers have been aware of the trade war going on because of the discussion of tariffs, but it is not ideal for many retailers to move channels from abroad because it will cost a lot more to produce domestically. Since the US economy will be going into recession, retailers need to focus a lot on the price and sustainability of garments. The pandemic has really shown a light on retailers that are not socially responsible and this will result in consumer preferences to change. I think it is going to be really difficult for retailers to price their goods consistently with the recession and also be socially responsible during this time. I am not exactly sure which direction the industry will go, but I know that there will be changes in sourcing strategies because of these major events.

  22. #2.
    Its really interesting to see the advancements that have been made in technology. A machine that once still required a human to handle the fabric, no longer needs that . With the creation of automated machines, manufacturing and production will be faster and more efficient. While this seems like a great thing to happen, on the other end… many people will be losing jobs. Such as poor women in Bangladesh who rely on these jobs and their little pay to keep them and their families alive. Although the working conditions and pay are not ideal, its something they need to stay afloat. With these machines taking over, up to 80% of these people could lose their jobs. I definitely believe this advancement is a great thing for the industry as a whole but will really make a negative impact on the former factory workers.

  23. #1 Do you think that automation and digitization will be more beneficial or harmful to the fashion/garment industry specifically when it concerns developing countries, such as Bangladesh and Cambodia? How will this affect the shift of production/supply chains?

    I think this automation will drastically affect these developing countries. Technological advancement is incredibly beneficial for countries that can afford the technology to keep up with this technology. Many countries cannot afford to keep up with other countries that have incredibly high earnings to purchase the technology necessary. Even if these factories were able to have the automation technology they are at risk to lose their jobs. In third world countries like Bangladesh and Cambodia the low wages, poverty and unemployment rate are already huge issues. With automation it can lead to less jobs necessary produce the garment and less people needed to produce means greater unemployment. This unemployment can lead to more poverty, disease, and economic issues.

    #2 Who will be the “winners” and “losers” in the fashion industry’s shift to proximity-driven production? In your opinion, will the Western Hemisphere textile and apparel supply chain survive as the competition from “Factory Asia?” intensifies?

    I think that the winners for a shift to proximity-driven production are those in developing asian and African countries. These countries do not have the the ability to produce at the rate these massive superpowers such as china can produce with their automated technology growing. Countries like china can afford to grow their production through automation therefore producing more to distribute so they can become almost a monopoly. The United States can also become its own superpower by adopting more automation for factories in the Us and growing their production. The issue is that we as a country rely so heavily on other countries to produce because we have more imports than exports. Because of this the US may feel some struggles if it did become proximity driven. It would allow for the creation of jobs but the customer preference of affordability may make that difficult due to the cost of producing in the US. Places like the EU would not struggle as much due to their intra-regional trade however prices of clothing may increase. The cost increase could be lowered due to use of automation over time.

  24. #1 I feel that automation and digitization has the potential to be both beneficial and harmful to the fashion/garment industry for several reasons. First, I think automation has the power to drastically affect developing countries. For developing countries who cannot afford much technology, technological advancements would be extremely beneficial for them. They could allow them to source more products, make more products, faster and easier than before which would speed up the supply chain. However, if these countries were to have automation technology, they are at risk of losing jobs and that is a huge problem in developing countries. With high poverty rates, disease and a struggling economy, many developing countries need these jobs and if the jobs are taken away by technology, there will be a sure harmful effect on the industry and economy of those developing countries.

    #5 I think so many things are going to change because of COVID-19. The effects of COVID-19 on Asia, specifically China, have been drastic. Companies have already begun sourcing elsewhere, giving more business to Vietnam, Japan, even Bangladesh. There is no telling how the fashion industry will respond after COVID-19. Will they go back to sourcing in Asia, mainly China? Will they go elsewhere? The effect of COVID-19 accelerated an already fragile market because of the trade war and there is no telling what will happen next. US companies will continue to source where it is cheap and quick, but we have no idea the long term effects and what they will do to the industry.

  25. #1: In regards to developing countries, automation and digitization will be more harmful. They do not have the capital to compete with other countries that are more technologically advanced. They rely more on their workers rather than technology. I believe this will definitely affect the current production/supply chains. This could be a complete turn in the fashion industry. Countries that originally did not play a large role in the fashion industry, but are able to afford the new technology may begin to do so. Which will then switch the key players in the fashion industry. Countries that play a large role now, may be replaced by countries with more capital. This would be detrimental for certain countries, such as, Bangladesh and Cambodia, because their exports in the fashion industry play a huge role in the country’s income as a whole.

    #5: I believe COVID-19 will significantly shift U.S. fashion companies’ sourcing strategy. Before COVID-19, countries could not compete with China when it comes to their exports to the United States. President Trump is actively trying to impose more tariffs to lessen the U.S.-China trade war. Since COVID-19, the U.S. and other countries have had to source their materials/garments from elsewhere and they are successful in doing so. Since many of the manufacturers in China have been closed and are slowly reopening, the United States has not been able to import materials from China. But the demand for garments and materials still remains high, so the United States had to come up with an alternative approach.

  26. #1: I think automation and digitalization will be more harmful to the fashion and garment industry in developing countries during the beginning stages. Countries like Bangladesh and Cambodia are countries with developing economies. Their economies are driven by labor force especially those who are garment workers. With new machinery and technologies taking over human labor jobs, unemployment will increase and working conditions could worsen.
    #5: I think that U.S. fashion companies will shift when it comes to their sourcing strategies. After the U.S.-China trade war and COVID-19, I believe the US will still invest in sourcing in Asia but will shift from their major source (China) and instead source into other developing countries that have lower costs. With COVID-19 it could also cause consumers to purchase garments made elsewhere. But overall I think fashion companies will still want to source countries that can produce their products at a cheaper price as some companies will trying their best to stay in business at a time like this.

  27. #1 I think these processes will definitely be harmful to the fashion and garment industry in developing countries. As we learned in class these developing countries often receive the short end of the stick so as more developed companies adopt automation human labor prices will decrease and only get more time sensitive. It is important as a company to know what your specific sourcing or textile factories are doing to protect and help their employees. Although it may take more work and money to ensure ethical practices are happening it is worth it for the betterment of society.

  28. #5. I think the U.S.- China trade war and COVID-19 will significantly shift U.S. fashion companies’ sourcing strategies particularly regarding China. For example, cheap labor is driving retailers to diversify from China and source from other countries. In the long run, most companies are looking for the lowest cost on production so they can turn a higher margin, so unless they face the issue of sustainability or other social factors that may run deep into their company’s DNA, I can’t imagine companies wouldn’t source from the least expensive manufacturers that produce similar quality items, given the extra cost they incur when dealing with China. I think that COVID-19 will only create an even bigger emphasis on this diversification from Chinese sourcing.

    #1. Like any good debate, I think the automation and digitization of the fashion/garment industry has both pros and cons. Regarding developing countries such as Bangladesh and Cambodia, I think the bad outweighs the good. If it turns to more atomization, LDC’s such as these could lose up to 90% of manufacturing jobs. This mostly affecting women, since they are the majority of people in the low-skill factory jobs that would become extinct due to the technological advancements. Specialists in this topic from the video expressed how they believe that if the machine age comes to fruition, that these workers will need to educate themselves to get on the level of more developed countries, which is sadly unrealistic for many. On the other hand, I do believe that for the consumer side of atomization and digitization, it would create a more efficient supply chain. Furthermore, it is proven that machinery can complete more sophisticated tasks in supply chains than workers can by hand, and in less time.

  29. The bottom line is that through automation and digitization retailers will no longer want to or feel the need to source from countries like Bangladesh and Cambodia. For years retailers and specifically fast fashion retailers have been chasing the world trying to find the cheapest labor, but if the cheapest form of labor also happens to be domestically then their wont be a need to go to these developing countries any longer. As technology continues to advance and machines are able to fully make garments than what will be the point in these machines being in factories thousands of miles away when it can be in their home country. This would eliminate having to wait for delivery or any additional taxes being charged and when this happens the economy in these third world countries will not do well. For years these countries have built a business and in some cases come out of poverty because of the production and manufacturing of clothing, but if there is no longer a need for cheap labor because there is a cheaper machine than what will be left. The one positive thing that will come out of this is that there will not longer be unfair treatment and unfair pay to these workers because of the fashion industry, but in turn they will just have to look somewhere else to find work and that option could be even worse.

  30. #1 To support the unpopular opinion, the advancement of robotics can influence advances in the lower level economies. Think of it this way: a robot is a robot, and therefore a robot in China can accomplish the same as a robot in Cambodia can. The advancement of robotics in these countries will benefit them once they can accumulate a usable and sustainable amount of AI or advanced electronics by gradually adding them to their human fleets. With no real reason to buy those robot-produced goods in a more expensive area, one can travel elsewhere with the ensured knowledge that a like-minded robot in Cambodia can help me in the same way. Maybe this can alleviate goods being so densely produced and exported from one area and rather spread the supply chain much wider. Other jobs would open because of these advancements, ex. tech and IT, therefore influencing higher education systems to support these jobs that have now replaced less cognitive factory jobs, where in turn those students or workers would advance themselves and their families.
    I also wish to continue on this point and answer #3: I do not so much think the “death of fast fashion” could repress Bangladesh’s ability to surpass China where “being cheap” is no longer that important. To coordinate with my previous argument, if there is an assembly line (hypothetically at the beginning stages of the AI transversion process) consisting of human creativity along with the precision of robotics, much more intricacy within design and execution is granted with the combination of the two. With minimizing the cost of robotics in the present and treating it progressively to aid the human workforce, almost like a modular home the pieces can be developed and completed in the meantime while eventually dropping them into place along the “assembly line” of garment workers.

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