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Worldview: Red Sea Attacks Disrupt Fashion’s Supply Chains

This week’s round-up of global markets fashion business news also features the Dubai Mall, Brazil’s Havaianas and a legal battle between and Alibaba.
A cargo vessel crosses the Suez Canal in Egypt, shortly after Yemen-based militants started attacking ships in the Red Sea along the crucial Asia-Europe trade route.
Container ships in the Red Sea have been attacked by Yemen-based militants along the crucial Asia-Europe trade route via the Suez Canal, causing delays and freight cost rises in fashion's supply chain. (Shutterstock)

🇪🇬 Red Sea attacks disrupt fashion’s supply chains through the Suez Canal. Fashion and textile companies using the crucial Asia-Europe shipping lane have reported delays and freight cost rises due to missile and drone attacks on container ships by Iran-backed Houthi militants based in Yemen, ostensibly in protest of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. Around 12 percent of global trade passes through Egypt’s Suez Canal, including as much as 30 percent of container traffic. To avoid attacks near the Bab al-Mandab strait along the canal route, shipping giants like Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM have rerouted vessels around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, a longer and costlier alternative. In the week ending Jan. 4, Drewry’s World Container Index, which measures ocean freight costs for eight major trade lanes, increased by 61 percent. The CEO of British fashion retailer Next said he expects delivery delays of 2.5 weeks, describing the diversion as “an inconvenience” but “not a crisis” and one that is unlikely to compel the company to pass cost hikes on to customers. India’s apparel and textile companies have also been affected, with a spokesperson for the country’s Synthetic and Rayon Textiles Export Promotion Council calling on the government to provide financial relief through tax rebates to offset the 40 percent surge in freight rates from India to Europe. The Red Sea attacks, which began in mid-December, are being countered militarily by the US and UK navies but, so far, the Houthi militants appear to be undeterred by recent fatalities or warnings of further reprisals from western countries. [Sourcing Journal, Bloomberg]

🇨🇳 E-commerce giant wins antimonopoly lawsuit against Alibaba. The Chinese online retailer said that it won a lawsuit in December against its rival, which was slapped with a 1 billion yuan ($140 million) fine over monopolistic practices known as “choosing one from two.” The High People’s Court of Beijing ruled that Alibaba Group had abused its market dominance, said in a statement published on its WeChat account. [Reuters]

🇧🇷 Brazil’s Alpargatas, parent of Havaianas, names Liel Miranda as new CEO. The footwear conglomerate behind the famous flip flop brand has announced that Miranda, who recently served as president of the local unit of snack food company Mondelez International, will succeed interim CEO Luiz Fernando Edmond on Feb. 1. [Yahoo Finance]

🇮🇳 Indian childrenswear brand Kidbea secures $1 million investment. Founded in 2021 by Swapnil Srivastav, Mohammad Hussain and Aman Kumar Mahto, the bamboo-based brand has secured funding in a pre-series A round led by Venture Catalysts, with participation from Agility Ventures, BestVantage Investments and individual investors including the founders of online car marketplace Droom. [Apparel Resources]

🇮🇳 India plans to open goods showroom and warehouse facility in UAE. The facility called Bharat Park would allow exporters of everything from clothing to heavy machinery to showcase their products under one roof to buyers both in the UAE and in other countries using the emirate as an entry point for distribution, like the one-stop-shop role that Dragon Mark plays for Chinese products in Dubai. [Arabian Business]

🇹🇷 Fashion brands ‘disregarded’ worker rights after Turkey earthquakes. A recent survey conducted by Ankara’s Middle Eastern Technical University of garment factory workers in Adiyaman, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras and Malatya, some of the cities worst affected by last February’s earthquakes, found that 69 percent of more than 200 suppliers received no contact from their buyers following the disaster. [Sourcing Journal]

🇮🇳 Indian fashion brand Uniref raises $190,000 in seed funding round. Founded by Kapil Bhatia in 2021, the brand currently produces garments made of recycled PET bottles among other materials, selling on e-commerce platforms Amazon India and Flipkart. [Economic Times]

🇨🇳 Chinese actor Liu Haoran joins Tag Heuer as ambassador. A star of the film franchise “Detective Chinatown,” the Henan native has become the Swiss watchmaker’s latest ambassador. [Retail Jeweller]

🇦🇪 Emaar Properties founder plans to expand Dubai Mall. “We are planning to renew Dubai Mall, expand it, and change it,” said founder and managing director Mohamed Alabbar in a video on his social media platforms, without providing further details. [Khaleej Times]

🇨🇳 Chinese actor and singer JC-T named as Michael Kors brand ambassador. The 33-year-old entertainer, also known by his birth name Tan Jianci, will be featured in campaigns, appearances and social media collaborations by the American fashion brand in the Greater China market. [Retail in Asia]

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