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Worldview: Davos Leaders Address Fashion’s Waste Problem

This week’s round-up of global markets fashion business news also features Dubai Duty Free, Mexican garment workers and Hong Kong beauty giant Sa Sa International.
A small group of fashion industry leaders is joining the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland between Jan. 15 and 19.
A small group of fashion industry leaders has joined the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which takes place between Jan. 15 and 19, 2024. (Shutterstock)

🌏 Fashion industry waste problem in focus at the World Economic Forum. Political, business and culture leaders from around the world have been descending on Davos, Switzerland for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, taking place from Jan. 15 – 19. Rubbing shoulders with the heads of state, billionaire moguls and celebrities at the elite event will be a handful of fashion industry leaders for a session on Thursday called ‘From Waste to Wardrobe: Making Circular Fashion Fashionable.’ Speakers will include Suchitra Lohia, deputy group CEO of Thailand’s wool fibre and chemical manufacturer Indorama Ventures, US-based Ralph Lauren Corporation CEO Patrice Louvet and Vogue China editor-in-chief Margaret Zhang, according to the NGO’s website. The environmental and social impact of the global fashion industry has been an intermittent focus of the forum for at least eight years. Broader topics relevant to fashion on the agenda include supply chains of the future, the Middle East conflict, advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the corporate ranks, capturing economic growth in China, India and Saudi Arabia and frontier market investments across Africa, Eurasia and Latin America. [World Economic Forum]

🇲🇽 US will provide $12 million to protect labour rights in Mexico. The US Department of Labor is granting up to $12.4 million to three organisations which combat child labour and forced labour or support migrant workers in Mexico. The International Labour Organization, monitoring non-profit group Verité and the Pan American Development Foundation will all receive funding. Fashion manufacturing in Mexico has gained some traction in recent years as US brands and retailers introduce or expand nearshoring strategies. [Sourcing Journal]

🇨🇳 Chinese beauty retailer Sa Sa International Holdings sees turnover surge. The Hong Kong-based multi-brand retailer with a store network across Asia noted Q3 turnover growth of 36.7 percent to HK$1.18 billion (US$224.6 million). Sales from stores in mainland China were up 49.3 percent, sales from Hong Kong and Macau up 39.4 percent and sales from Southeast Asia up just 2.9 percent. [InsideRetail Asia]

🇦🇪 Dubai Duty Free’s annual sales hit all-time record of $2.16 billion. The company responsible for duty-free operations at Dubai International Airport, including fashion and beauty outlets, saw sales increase 24.39 percent over the previous year, to 7.885 billion dirhams ($2.16 billion), amid passenger traffic which surpassed pre-pandemic levels. [Arabian Business]

🇰🇭 Cambodia’s fashion exports were down 12 percent in 2023. The Southeast Asian manufacturing hub exported $11.12 billion worth of garment, footwear and travel products in 2023, a decrease from $12.68 billion dollars in the previous year, according to a General Department of Customs and Excise’s report. The Ministry of Commerce’s Secretary of State and spokesperson Penn Sovicheat attributed it to “a slowdown in global demand, particularly in the European Union.” [Xinhua]

🇺🇿 New cotton agreement aims to improve human rights in Uzbekistan. A coalition of business and human rights organisations have signed an MoU called “Enhancing Transparency and Accountability in the Cotton Industry of Uzbekistan”, funded by the US Department of Labor, that aims to improve working conditions and prevent forced labour. The Central Asian nation, one the world’s top 10 cotton producing countries, was the target of a major boycott until March 2022. [Sourcing Journal]

🇯🇵 Japanese department store Matsuya to acquire e-tailer Mille Porte. Matsuya Company has entered an agreement to take over the luxury beauty and lifestyle e-commerce platform from Tokyo-based startup B4F for an undisclosed amount. The deal is expected to be completed in late April, ahead of Matsuya’s launch of an omnichannel service. [Khanh Linh for BoF]

🇧🇩 Bangladesh garment industry hails VAT relief policy at ports. The government’s decision to lift the tax on some export services will “reduce operational costs” for businesses facing multiple global economic headwinds, said a representative of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association. The news comes shortly after Sheikh Hasina was re-elected prime minister in an election beset by violence which has been described as neither free nor fair. [Sourcing Journal, Reuters]

🇯🇵 Japanese parent of Uniqlo posts a 25% surge in Q1 operating profit. Fuelled by strong overseas sales, profit at Fast Retailing reached 146.7 billion yen ($1.01 billion) in the three months through November, following record earnings of 381.1 billion yen ($2.56 billion) in fiscal 2023. [Reuters]

🇰🇷 South Korean retailer Tom Greyhound to shutter its Paris store. The concept store which started in Seoul and has operated a French branch since 2014 will stop trading in Paris at the end of January, according to a WWD report, citing confirmation from David Kang, managing director of Handsome Paris, the store’s local subsidiary of Hyundai Group affiliate Handsome Corp. Korean operations of the fashion retailer will not be affected. [WWD]

🇨🇳 Christian Dior sets date for its upcoming men’s show in Hong Kong. The French luxury brand will show its pre-fall 2024 collection, designed by menswear artistic director Kim Jones, on March 23, coinciding with the first edition of ComplexCon Hong Kong, scheduled from March 22 to 24, marking the first edition of the American streetwear and pop culture festival held in China. [Retail in Asia]

🇦🇪 Dubai Fashion Week shifts dates from after Paris to before New York. “We are moving our Autumn/Winter dates forward to be among the early birds in the global fashion calendar, ensuring our designers can attract and engage potential buyers and investors earlier,” said Khadija Al Bastaki, senior vice president of Dubai Design District (D3), the organisation which last year co-founded the rebranded event with Arab Fashion Council. [BoF Inbox]

🇮🇳 India’s eyewear retail chain Lenskart expands to Saudi Arabia. The Gurugram-based company has opened two stores in the Saudi capital Riyadh, following its 2021 Middle East debut with a store in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. Founded in 2010 by Peyush Bansal, Amit Chaudhary and Sumeet Kapahi, Lenskart has over 1,100 stores across India. [India Retailing]

🇦🇺 Simon Schofield appointed CEO of Australia’s Cue Clothing Co. The former managing director at Country Road Group brands Witchery and Trenery will start his new role from January 30. According to an Australian Financial Review report last year, Cue Clothing is the largest manufacturer of clothing in Australia, operating 190 stores for the Cue, Dion Lee and Veronika Maine brands. [Rag Trader, AFR]

🇨🇳 Furla names Chinese actor Karry Wang as its new brand ambassador. The Italian brand has tapped the male film and TV actor and singer, also known as Wang Junkai, for its womenswear campaign for the upcoming Chinese New Year 2024 capsule collection. [Grazia Italia]

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