Globally, 60 million people are employed in the apparel or garment industry, with around 15 million employed (largely women) in factories located in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. Asian manufacturers supply a very large proportion of the garments imported by retailers in developed countries.
Competitive advantage for the Asian apparel industry has been primarily based on cheaper inputs, low cost production due to cheap labour and strong traditional skill base. However, this is beginning to shift to now developing a competitive advantage based on rapid responsiveness to meeting specific customer needs, high levels of productivity and innovation capability.
Productivity improvements, disruptive innovation, effective leadership, sustainability and ethical production have become key concerns not only for manufacturers and their major global customers but also for other stakeholders involved with the apparel industry including governments, NGOs, investors, logistics and supply chain solution providers and other members of the global apparel supply chain.
Transformation of the Asian apparel industry is crucial for it to move up the value chain by incorporating more value-added activities in terms of front-end design, research and development, etc. The application of advanced manufacturing, communication and supply chain technologies is essential for the future. The apparel industry needs to recognise the challenges and opportunities with respect to ‘Industry 4.0’ and what the industry will look like in 10 years’ time.
Major concerns have been raised with respect to transparency of the global garments supply chain and the current operations and supply chain management (O/SCM) practices adopted by the Asian manufacturers and their local suppliers. The majority of the Asian garment manufacturing factories are highly labour intensive. There is great opportunity for developing front-end design and innovation capability and for adopting modern operations and supply chain management strategies, technologies and practices.
This conference is designed to bring together researchers, practitioners (retail executives, manufacturing executives and first/second tier suppliers) and policy-makers from around the world to focus on the following topics (among many other topics):
- Front-end design and innovation capability and practices being developed and adopted by apparel/garment manufacturers and their supply chains
- Leadership and management advances in the apparel industry
- Innovation models in the apparel industry
- Use of advanced technologies in design, production and delivery of apparel goods
- Operations and supply chain strategies of apparel/garment manufacturers
- Application of Lean and Six Sigma in apparel manufacturing
- National apparel industry policies aimed at enhancing sector growth and innovation
- Human resource development in the global apparel industry
- Corporate social responsibility, environmental and ethical concerns
- Design and management of global production networks.
- Emergence of regional production networks and regional value chains in the apparel industry)
- Changing industry structure in the apparel industry, including vertical integration, backward and forward linkages, etc.