For Educators

Updated March 2023

Educators teaching textile and apparel trade, sourcing, and supply chain or other related courses are welcome to use FASH455 ( as Open Educational Resource (OER) in the classroom. This page organizes the blog posts by topic, with descriptions and additional teaching resources. Welcome any questions, suggestions, and advice.

Suggested Citation: Lu, Sheng (2022). FASH455 global apparel &textile trade and sourcing. Retrieved from

Concept paper:

Lu, Sheng (2018). Use Blogging as a Teaching Tool for Textile and Apparel Trade and Sourcing Courses. International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA).

Course design for global apparel trade and sourcing

Globalization, trade, and textile and apparel

Global textile and apparel trade patterns and related statistics

Fashion companies’ sourcing strategies

Textile and apparel industries & sourcing destinations around the world

Sustainability and social responsibility in sourcing

Textile and apparel trade policy

Shipping and logistics

Teaching case studies

Case study as a teaching method allows students to apply what they’ve learned in the lectures to think and solve real-world problems. Case study also improves students’ skills in critical thinking, oral presentation, writing, and working in teams. In general, each case study includes three inter-connected learning activities: written case analysis (individual work by students), small group discussion (5-6 students/group), and plenary case discussion (whole class) led by the instructor.  

The following original teaching case studies (with teaching notes) are written specifically for textile and apparel trade and sourcing classes (Access through  Bloomsbury Fashion Business Cases)

Lu, S. (October 2022). Apparel Sourcing in the Shadow of the US-China Tariff War. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Keywords: Section 301, Tariff, Trade War, Apparel sourcing

Abstract: This case study puts students in the shoes of sourcing executives from US fashion brands and retailers, attempting to determine an appropriate response to the US-China tariff war, which added over $1 billion extra import duties to their annual sourcing costs. Notably, from U.S. Trade Representative Katharine Tai’s most recent speech at a public event, apparel sourcing executives were disappointed that the Biden administration had no plan to lift the Section 301 tariff anytime soon. Apparel sourcing executives had several tough decisions to make—given the current business environment, should their companies continue or discontinue sourcing from China? What could they do to mitigate the impact of the tariff war? Finally, what are the best ways to explain the tariff war’s real effects to policymakers and the public? Apparel sourcing executives knew they would need to crunch trade statistics, study and interpret the trade rules, and demonstrate a savvy understanding of trade politics to answer these high-stakes questions.    

Lu, S. (December 2021). Responding to Allegations of Forced Labor in the Cotton Supply Chain: A Challenge for Ethical and Sustainable Apparel Sourcing. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Keywords: Forced labor, cotton, supply chain, China, trade policy

Abstract: US fashion brands and retailers sourcing cotton apparel are facing daunting challenges responding to the concerns that their imports may contain cotton made by forced labor. Notably, since 2020, the US government had taken a series of actions to address alleged forced labor, mainly Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities, in Xinjiang, China. Among these actions, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued several Withhold Release Orders (WROs) that formally prohibit imports of textiles and apparel containing cotton made in the Xinjiang region. The sweeping policies affect fashion companies’ sourcing practices significantly and draw substantial public attention to the issue. Consumers, non-government organizations (NGOs), and legislators are pressuring US fashion brands and retailers to do more to ensure no forced labor in their supply chains. Meanwhile, the Chinese government vehemently denies the allegations and pledged to take action against any “unfair treatment” of Xinjiang cotton. American and other western fashion brands that suspended using Xinjiang cotton have faced organized social media campaigns that called for Chinese consumers to boycott these products. Because of the high stakes and sensitivities, US fashion brands and retailers need to evaluate the situation critically, comply with all regulations, propose practical and creative solutions and skillfully interact with all critical stakeholders.

Lu, S. (2021). How to promote human rights through apparel sourcing and trade? Debate on terminating Cambodia’s eligibility for EU’s Everything But Arms’ program. In Bloomsbury Fashion Business Cases. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Keywords: Cambodia, Everything But Arms (EBA), Human Rights, garment industry

Abstract: This case study describes a high-profile debate on whether the European Union (EU) should terminate Cambodia’s eligibility for the EU Everything But Arms (EBA) program. In February 2020, the European Union (EU) formally announced it would partially suspend Cambodia’s eligibility for the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) program due to growing concerns about Cambodia’s human rights records. Losing the EBA benefits means apparel exports from Cambodia to the EU would lose the duty-free market access and be subject to the regular tariff rate ranging from 10-30%. This would be a significant hit to the vulnerable Cambodian apparel factories and workers, which are already competing hard with giant competitors such as China, Vietnam and Bangladesh in the EU market. Notably, close to 70% of Cambodia’s exports in 2019 were apparel items and almost half of them went to the EU, its single largest export market. Some argue that it makes no sense to continue to “reward” Cambodia through the EBA program given the reported human rights abuses. However, it is also of concern that a deteriorated economy due to reduced apparel exports to the EU could make it even more challenging to improve human rights in the country. On the other hand, it is debatable whether trade policies such as tariffs and preferential market access should be used as tools to address human rights issues at all, which are often about a country’s sovereign rights. EU policymakers are in a tough spot to take a balanced action.

Brady, S., & Lu, S. (2020). Managing used clothing trade. In Bloomsbury Fashion Business Cases. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Keywords: Used clothing, secondhand clothing, East Africa, trade dispute, AGOA

Abstract: The world used clothing export has significantly increased from only $1.6 billion in 2006 to $3.2 billion in 2017. Meanwhile, the world used clothing trade flow is highly unbalanced, with most exports coming from developed countries and most imports sold in developing countries, especially the least developed ones. Through a recent high-profile trade dispute between the United States and the East African Community (EAC) on used clothing import ban, this case study intends to illustrate the complexity of regulating used clothing trade, which involves economic, social, legal, and political considerations that go far beyond used clothing itself. The content of the case material is developed based on ten in-depth interviews with decision-makers and stakeholders directly involved in the trade dispute, including senior U.S. trade policymakers for textile and apparel, the leadership of U.S. used clothing exporters and industry representatives from EAC countries.

Lu, S. (2018). Textile industry versus apparel industry: Trade policy in the world of global supply chain. In Bloomsbury Fashion Business Cases. London: Bloomsbury Academic. 

Keywords: NAFTA, textile industry, fashion brands and retailers, trade policy, rules of origin, tariff preference level

Abstract: In August 2017, the Trump administration announced the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Although, the US textile and apparel (T&A) industry is a critical stakeholder of the potential policy change to NAFTA, how to update the T&A specific rules of origin in the agreement has raised heated debate among different segments of the industry.On the one hand, US fashion brands and apparel retailers, along with their counterparts in Canada, are pushing hard for liberalizing the restrictive NAFTA T&A rules of origin commonly known as the “yarn-forward” to increase their flexibility in sourcing. On the other hand, US textile manufacturers are firmly opposed to the idea of abandoning the “yarn-forward” rules of origin in NAFTA. Instead, they lobby strongly for eliminating the exceptions to the “yarn-forward” rule, such as the tariff preference level (TPL), to strengthen the NAFTA regional T&A production further.Robert Lighthizer, the US trade representative, has to weigh the arguments from both sides to make a careful decision. Robert knows that the outcomes of the NAFTA renegotiation, especially the rules of origin, will shape the future landscape of the US textile and apparel industry.

Acknowledgment:  Special thanks to the University of Delaware Libary Open Education Resources (OER) Grant and Center for Teaching and Assessment of Learning teaching grants for sponsoring the project.  

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