Mapping the Global Garment Supply Chain - August 31, 2018

Currently nearly all 8,100 factories producing garment and footwear for 24 European, US and Japanese brands are formally independent. These brands, like H&M, C&A, Adidas or Nike, own hardly any factories anymore; neither do they have a domestic production base.

 Yet, other forms of dependency may be at stake. For example, less than one-fifth of these factories recently supplied more than one brand at the same time. Among 25 production countries Bangladesh was on top here with two in five factories, but for example in China, the largest producer, only one in eight factories provided for two or more brands. A limited group of mostly big factories could escape such dependency and actually serve five or more brands simultaneously.

In countries like Indonesia and Vietnam such factories were often owned by investors from Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan, an upcoming category that growingly seems to coordinate supplies. By contrast, in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka national capital groups own a considerable number of large factories. In these countries foreign investment in garment and footwear production was recently rather limited, but in Indonesia and Vietnam about half of all factories supplying the 24 brands were foreign-owned, and in Cambodia even 97 per cent of all.

These are some outcomes of Mapping the Global Garment Supply Chain, a report just published by the WageIndicator Foundation (WIF). In this report Maarten van Klaveren and Kea Tijdens, researchers affiliated with the WIF, analysed the information 24 garment and footwear brands published on their websites regarding their supply chains. They compiled this information in the WageIndicator Garment Supply Chain Database 2018. Sales of these 24 brands make up about one-third of total garment and footwear sales in Europe, US and Japan. About nine times as many were employed in their supply chains in Asia, Africa and Latin America as were employed in their stores, distribution centres and offices. The authors recommend to continue and expand analysing factory information brands disclose on the Internet. They suggest it will be worth targeting the involvement of brands jointly covering over half of all sales in the markets of developed countries.


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