Shipping Crisis and Supply Chain Disruptions: Impacts on Apparel Sourcing and Trade (updated December 2021)

Interview with Lululemon CEO
Impact on cotton price and cotton apparel

For FASH455: Please feel free to share any thoughts or propose discussion questions based on the three short videos above.

Author: Sheng Lu

Professor @ University of Delaware

12 thoughts on “Shipping Crisis and Supply Chain Disruptions: Impacts on Apparel Sourcing and Trade (updated December 2021)”

  1. The ongoing shipping crisis is really real and really among us. As we head into the holiday season with increased shopping and consumption, the supply chain issues are heightened. The CEO of Lululemon shared that 20% of their back half receipts have been impacted by the shutdown with factories being shut down. There is currently no end in sight to solve the shipping crisis and businesses are just doing the best they can. The port in LA opened up 24-7 but so far has not seen a drastic decrease in back-ups. The CEO of LuLulemon also shared that they have used air to try and get the product in which is much more expensive. There is greater demand than there is the available product. He recommended that guests shop as early as possible to get the products they need. I personally have thankfully completed all of my holiday shopping, but I have friends who have not and are seeing those major delays and unavailable products as discussed in these videos.

  2. Given that we just recently discussed the forced labor in Xinjiang, I found the last video the most interesting. As we have discussed in case study 3, there have been concerns from US companies about the alleged forced labor of the uyghur ethnic group in producing cotton. This has caused many US companies to decrease their imports of cotton from China, specifically in the Xinjiang region. While I was aware that the US government was putting laws in place, I did not know that Trump had banned the import of clothing and other products made with cotton from Xinjiang. Additionally, as we have learned, there have been many shortages in products and disruptions in the supply chain. It’s interesting to see how these disruptions have caused the prices of resources to increase.

  3. The disruption in the supply chain is one topic we have explored abundantly this year, as it is becoming a prevalent issue in our industry. Though there are motions to help minimize the blow of these issues, there is no one solution to this issue. I found it very interesting to see Lulu Lemon’s stance on the supply chain disruption. Their outlook seems to be a “make the most of a bad situation” outlook and instead of panicking under pressure, they have focused on the aspects they can control. Again, instead of panicking, Lulu Lemon continued to pay their employees, remained loyal to their consumers and their investors. Finding alternate routes of sourcing and exploring options during this time is crucial to remain afloat. For big companies, this can be simple as they have the capital and resources but it has been abundantly hard on small businesses. It was very interesting to hear Steve Lamar’s thoughts on how the tariffs were affecting businesses through this time. His idea of putting a hold on the tariffs or reimbursing for some of the tariffs businesses have faced is one I found very interesting. This brings up the same idea of stimulus checks, which Americans received to increase profitability in the economy. If the companies were given some leeway in this time it could bring profitability in the industry.

  4. The supply chain crisis is a huge topic that a lot of people are talking about. Even though companies are trying to find other alternatives to get product in, however some of these alternatives are costly and not every business can afford these other methods. We need to find long term options so that we can improve this crisis faster rather then have it continue for the next couple of years. I also really liked Lululemon’s response on how they focused on what they can control and did not go into a full panic. Lululemon could take their approach a step further and help find a solution to this crisis and work with surrounding companies to find a solution to this crisis. Now I know this solution will not be found overnight but brands could start taking steps to help find a long term solution.

  5. The supply chain delays have been a prevalent issue for some time, especially with the holiday’s coming up. Shopping online has increasingly become the new sensation for today’s society. With easily accessible features, consumers can purchase whatever they desire within seconds at the click of a few buttons. Something I found interesting was LuluLemon’s standpoint on the supply chain issues. Although there is no solution within the near future to fix shipping and distribution delay, they are doing everything they can to continue business while maintaining good relationships with their consumers. Transparency is key, this can be sending emails with shipping information or informing of any delays. LuluLemon remained loyal to their customers and investors by continuing production through all the craziness. From the perspective of the consumer, with little knowledge of the fashion industry or supply chain issues, it can be very frustrating to receive a delayed package. With the holiday season approaching and an increase of online purchases, fashion brands retailers and manufacturers may be able to learn from this season to find a long-term solution to supply chain delays.

  6. The supply chain globally was hit hard during the pandemic. There are various supply chain disruptions like shipping delays, cancelled orders, and inflation but I liked how Lululemon is approaching these adversities. Lululemon stressed the importance of developing a good relationship with their supply chain. Long time partners can go a long way. What I liked about Lulu’s strategy is their awareness and support for their supply chain partners overseas. They understand that this is a difficult time and they need to both aid and support the manufactures in order for both of them to successfully make it through this ever-changing post pandemic market.

  7. Well this was really interesting to read. We all know there is a problem right now with getting consumer products at the speed they want them because of shipping delays especially since we’re cornering the holidays. With that being said, it was interesting to hear which sections of the fashion industry are hurt most by shipping delays. From reading this blog post I learned that luxury is doing better than premium retail which has items going out of stock at concerning rates, that makes sense because the luxury market is less inclusive. On the other hand, I thought it was interesting to see how the fast fashion retail model is thriving. This is because their turnaround rates are absurd but are consumers still interested in shopping fast fashion even with the recent push for sustainability? also how is fast fashion doing better than other sections during this time aren’t fast fashion retailers also experiencing delays from shipments made overseas? Overall, this article was very interesting.

  8. The supply chain disruption has been a huge topic of conversation in our course this semester. COVID caused a a huge shift in the industry and had a major impact on the supply chain. Brand are trying to find new ways of working as the disruption continues. The solutions these companies are coming up with are possible but some are costly and time not the most convenient. With the holidays approaching many consumers are turning to online shopping to get the products they want. I think it is important that companies be completely transparent with the consumers about the impact the supply chain disruption will have on their ability to transport product.

  9. In the first video, it is what you have been telling since the first week of school that shipping will be delayed. Also with recent event shipping contains are just showing up to the ports in California. As looking at articles online China is now not going to provide shipping information about certain cargo being shipped to the USA. This could then effect fashion companies as shipping processes could become stricter. There is also a greater demand for products this but due to covid production is behind. Especially with the holiday season here, there is always an increase of shipping.

  10. I thought it was interesting that the first two videos both talked about how the theme of the holiday shopping season is to buy early because of the shipping crisis and because there were going to be a lot of empty shelves and a lot of things out-of-stock. It makes me wonder how long it will take until this shipping crisis is resolved? Or will companies have to start looking for other ways to receive their products? For example will more companies follow in Amazon’s footsteps with chartering their own ships and buying their own shipping containers in order to move production faster? Or will this shipping crisis give more incentive for companies to switch sources and look to source more within the western hemisphere?

  11. Supply chain challenges have been a main topic of conversation in mainly of my classes, not just FASH445. I am also in BUAD306, which is operation management and we have spent a great amount of time talking about different supply chain challenges. COVID has many issues to arise that were never problems before. The has been a lot of changes put n place in order to solve the different supply chain issues. Many brands are trying to find new ways to create goods whether that means new materials or changing where they source their goods from. The big issue is time all the timing is off and it is causing so many companies to lose tons of business. The common theme of support and good relationship is something that lulu lemon really showed. They are aware as well as support their supply chain partners. This is very important and shows that the company cares.

  12. I found the last video to be the most interesting since we have just learned about the alleged forced labor happening in the Xinjiang region. Although the video explains that US companies can still import cotton products from China as long as they are not from the Xinjiang region, I do not believe that the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act should be in existence. As we have learned, there are no set guidelines as to how importers can prove there is no forced labor within their supply chains. Until these guidelines are established, the ban will force US brands and retailers to find cotton apparel supply chains elsewhere. This is not only troublesome for US brands, but it is also hurtful to the imports that are truly not connected to the Xinjian region.

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