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Worldview: Argentina’s Textile Industry Crisis

This week’s round-up of global markets fashion business news also features Australia’s billionaire investors, garment workers in Vietnam and China’s latest economic forecast.
Workers sewing products at the Sonder textile factory in Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina, in April 2020.
Workers sewing products at the Sonder textile factory in Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina, in April 2020. (Getty Images)

🇦🇷 Argentina’s manufacturing hub loses 100,000 textile industry jobs. Mario Giambattistelli, president of a local industry body based in Rosario, the largest city in the province of Santa Fe, said that 160 textile factories and workshops have closed, leading to an alarming number of job losses in the two months since December. In an interview with a local radio station, he warned that if there is no change in the next 90 days, it will be “practically impossible to manufacture clothing in Argentina.” For years, Argentine companies have had to navigate economic crises caused by hyperinflation, spiralling debt, currency devaluations, restrictive government measures and trade impediments. Now they face more turbulence as the country’s unorthodox new president Javier Milei introduces ‘shock therapy’ policies to revive the economy. [FashionNetwork]

🇨🇳 Premier Li Qiang vows to ‘transform’ China’s weakened economy. Speaking at the National People’s Congress this week in Beijing, as part of the Two Sessions annual plenary government sessions, Li set a GDP growth target of “around 5 percent” for 2024, a figure that many consider to be ambitious given the state of the economy. China’s domestic luxury market is expected to grow just 4 to 6 percent in 2024, according to BoF’s State of Fashion report, amid soft demand due to economic headwinds including a prolonged real estate sector crisis, deflationary pressures, a stock market rout, slowing manufacturing output and high levels of youth unemployment. [CNN, BBC]

🇦🇺 Australian womenswear brand Dissh secures billionaire investor. The company led by Lucy Henry-Hicks and founded by her mother, has sold a stake to retail mogul Brett Blundy through his private investment vehicle BBRC which has previously invested in jewellery brand Lovisa and Accent Group, a retail operator for brands like Timberland, Ugg and Kappa across Australasia with over 800 stores. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. In November, another local billionaire, Andrew Forrest, upped his fashion investments with the acquisition of Australian hatmaker Akubra. [Australian Financial Review]

🇻🇳 Concerns rise about Vietnamese plans to curb worker’s rights. Government leaders in the country, which has become a globally important apparel and footwear manufacturing hub, have issued Directive 24, compelling officials to closely monitor trade unions and labour disputes. According to human rights watchdog The 88 Project, the move stands in contrast to the pledges Vietnam is expected to make later this year if it ratifies the International Labour Organization’s Convention 87. [Al Jazeera]

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🇰🇷 Farfetch’s new Korean owner Coupang earns first yearly profit. The New York-listed e-commerce giant founded in South Korea has reported that sales in 2023 grew 18 percent to $24.3 billion, with operating profit reaching $473 million, marking the company’s first annual profit and a major turnaround from the $112 million loss a year earlier. [Nikkei Asia]

🇦🇺 Australia’s BlockTexx raises AU$7 million in Series B funding. The textile recycling firm has secured an investment of US$4.6 million in a round from Netherlands-based Fashion for Good and existing investors Mike and Sue Gregg, and Artesian Investments to scale its technology by expanding its textile recovery facility in Queensland. [TexFash, Ecotextile News]

🇨🇳 Alibaba-owned South Asian e-commerce giant Daraz announces layoffs. The struggling clothing-to-electronics e-commerce platform, which operates in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Myanmar, has announced it will decrease headcount across the group, acting CEO James Dong said in an internal memo to employees, without disclosing exact figures. [Reuters]

🇦🇺 Elle Australia relaunches print edition after a four-year hiatus. Are Media, the company which has the rights to the local edition of the fashion magazine, has released the first of two print editions that will be published this year. Recently appointed editor Grace O’Neill said that the plan is to gradually increase the number of issues to four next year and six in 2026. Elle Australia shut down its print edition in 2020 amid the pandemic. [AdNews, Ragtrader]

🇯🇵 Shiseido Companies’ Japanese skincare brand Ipsa scales back in China. The high-end brand is reportedly withdrawing some of its counters in the country including the closure of its concept store in Shanghai’s Pudong Lujiazui Center. But Shiseido China characterised the move as normal adjustments in its offline business. [Jing Daily]

🇮🇳 Reliance Industries is reportedly in talks to bring Primark to India. The conglomerate that is the local partner for numerous global fashion brands is believed to be in exploratory talks with the British budget fashion chain to enter the India market, a move that would see it compete against value players like Tata’s Zudio, Landmark Group’s Max and Shoppers Stop’s InTune. [Economic Times]

🇨🇱 Chile-based Latin American retail giant Falabella posts surge in Q4 profit. The department store group with operations in key regional markets Chile, Brazil, Peru, Argentina and Colombia, has reported net profit soared more than ninefold to 70.42 billion pesos ($79.6 million), even as revenue fell by 5.5 percent from the same period last year to 3.12 trillion pesos. [Reuters]

🇮🇳 Indian luggage maker Safari Industries secures $27.6 million investment. The company behind the Safari luggage and accessories brand has bagged 229 crore rupees from Lighthouse Funds, a consumer and healthcare-focused private equity firm that previously invested in Nykaa, FabIndia, Kama Ayurveda. [Economic Times]

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🇨🇱 Chile’s retail giant Cencosud Shopping appoints new CEO. The subsidiary operating shopping centres across the Chile, Peru and Colombia markets under the Cencomalls brand, has named insider Sebastián Bellocchio Fioretti as its new chief. In January, parent Cencosud Group, one of South America’s largest retailers, had appointed Rodrigo Larrain Kaplan as CEO. [Forbes Chile]

🇮🇳 Fashion e-tailer Myntra receives $54 million injection from parent Flipkart. Holding company FK Myntra Holdings Pvt Ltd has received the funding from the Walmart-owned Indian multi-category e-commerce giant amid increasing competition from Reliance’s Ajio and Tata Cliq. The January infusion was the second investment from Flipkart in a year, following $105 million in March 2023. [Economic Times]

🇦🇪 Global PR giant Ruder Finn acquires Dubai PR firm Atteline. The 75-year-old company has acquired the firm founded by Sophie Simpson, which has a diverse range of clients including brands in the fashion, beauty and jewellery categories, for an undisclosed amount, and plans to use the UAE company as its new base for the Gulf region. [Arabian Business]

🇦🇺 Australian Fashion Week names emerging designer programme winners. IMG, the company behind the biannual event, has announced that the brands that won a slot to show as part of fashion week’s Next Gen 2024 programme in May in Sydney are Amy Lawrance, Emily Watson, House of Campbell and Potirakis. [BoF Inbox]

🇸🇦 Saudi 100 Brands presents all-female designers in Paris. The travelling showcase spearheaded by the Saudi Fashion Commission featured sixteen designers including Mona Alshebil, Apoa, Ashwaq Almarshad, Charmaleena and Dazluq. [Arab News]

🇨🇳 Givenchy signs China’s Fan Chengcheng and Li Bingbing. The beauty division of the French luxury brand has tapped Fan, a male singer and actor, while the fashion division has tapped Li, an actress who appears in US and Chinese films, as brand ambassadors. [Jing Daily, BoF Inbox]

🇲🇾 Helena Rubinstein taps Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh as ambassador. L’Oréal Group’s high-end beauty brand has selected the Oscar-winning Hollywood A-lister, who started her career in Hong Kong in the 1990s before moving the US and starring in major blockbusters. [Cosmetics Business]

🇨🇳 Dior taps pianist Lang Lang as new brand ambassador. The French luxury brand has linked arms with the Chinese classical musician with a global reputation and 17 million followers on China’s social media network Weibo. [Jing Daily]

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🇹🇭 Gucci appoints Thai actor and singer Gulf as brand ambassador. The Italian luxury brand has tapped the star of films like “Bua Pen Fun Yap”, whose real name is Kanawut Traipipattanapong, as ambassador. [L’Officiel Malaysia]

🇨🇳 Versace appoints Chinese actor Bai Jingting as fragrance ambassador. The Italian luxury brand has partnered with the star of films like “Yesterday Once More” and TV series “Ping Pong”. [Jing Daily]

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