Are the problems in the fashion supply chain easing?

Mixed messages

  • Shipping costs are falling, indicating that the hitches in the fashion supply chain may be easing
  • China’s Covid blockades and the war in Ukraine could reverse any progress
  • Supply chain disruptions are contributing to high inflation

We are in the midst of a relatively quiet time in the fashion universe: fashion month and the Oscars are over, festival season and the Met Gala are still a short distance away. The industry could use a pause to take stock of the many variables that cloud its prospects.

Supply chain: There are signs that the fashion supply chain bottlenecks may finally ease. According to maritime research consultancy Drewry, the cost of moving a container from Shanghai to Los Angeles has dropped about 20% from its peak to its lowest level since June. Of course, the rate is still double this time last year, and between the blockade of China and the war in Ukraine, few in the logistics community are still ready to declare victory.

China: Authorities have yet to contain the coronavirus outbreak in the country, which means blockades in Shanghai and other major cities continue. Many factories and, above all, ports, continue to operate normally, albeit with workers in “bubble” conditions intended to keep Covid out. But last week, large manufacturers and haulage companies warned that the outage is possible, and late last week extended waiting times were reported to move goods out of Shanghai, home to the busiest container port in the world. world.

Russia: Fashion brands have moved out of Russia, but for the most part their long-term strategy is to hang “temporarily closed” signs on the doors of their Moscow stores. There are indications of a more permanent realignment taking shape, particularly in the jewelry industry. Last week, Pandora, and later Cartier and other Richemont brands, left the Responsible Jewelery Council due to its ties to Russia. The addition of Alrosa, the world’s largest diamond miner, to sanctions lists is also forcing some hasty adjustments to Tiffany’s and other supply chains. Russia has also reportedly seized Audemars Piguet watches worth millions of dollars. Expect pressures on European and American brands to continue to build as the war continues.

Inflation: The US and China, the world’s two largest economies, will release March consumer price data early next week. In the meantime, keep an eye on the price of oil. Crude Oil hit recent highs as President Joe Biden prepares to release millions of barrels from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve. But the longer US consumers pay well over $ 4 a gallon for gasoline, the more likely they are to cut down on unnecessary expenses, including clothing.

I earn: It’s a light week for earnings, but Zegna reports its early results as a public company (expect few surprises, the menswear brand said in February its 2021 sales jumped 27% just below levels. pre-pandemic). Levi’s and Asos are also expected to report.

Take two

  • The Kooples is relaunching, with a new creative director and CEO
  • A previous effort to revive the brand was nullified by the pandemic, when reliance on stores to drive sales proved to be a liability
  • The French brand was acquired in 2019 by Maus Frères, who also owns Lacoste and Gant

French premium brand The Kooples will be relaunched under a new creative director and CEO for the second time since it was acquired by Lacoste and Gant owner Maus Freres in 2019.

The brand will unveil a new visual identity and first collections from designer Capucine Safyurtlu, who previously held roles at affordable luxury brand Maje and cobbler Stella Luna, on Monday. The relaunch is the first big push from CEO Mary Schott, who previously led French lingerie giant Etam.

Reviving the momentum at The Kooples, which was a staple of the early 2000s French “baby rocker” moment, proved challenging. Another designer-CEO duo, Tom Van Dorpe and Romain Guinier, attempted to relaunch the brand in 2020.

The bottom line: Kooples’ retail strategy will be a key element of any revival. Past iterations of the brand relied heavily on stores to boost sales, but its current owner is keen to expand digital channels.

Robert Williams contributed to this article.

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