It’s once again that time of year! The time when movers and shakers from every corner of the apparel industry, from design to delivery and visualization to fabrication, converge on the Nevada desert (in the middle of August no less) for the semi-annual conference of the Men’s Apparel Guild in California, better known as MAGIC. It has been 6 months since the last MAGIC conference took place, and in that time, a lot has changed in the world of social compliance and sourcing. Alliances (and accords) have been formed, trade agreements have come and gone, and ensuring the safety and security of supply chains has become more important than ever before. As we at WRAP prepare to make our own journey to the desert in the coming days, we wanted to take some time to look back at the journey of social compliance over the past 6 months and look ahead to what we will be offering at MAGIC.
If the string of garment factory tragedies that prefaced February’s MAGIC conference brought compliance issues to the forefront for the world’s sourcing managers, then the string of garment factory tragedies that have prefaced this upcoming edition of MAGIC have all but galvanized that position. Last year’s massive deadly fires at the Ali Enterprises factory in Pakistan and the Tazreen Fashions factory in Bangladesh served as a stark reminder that the company that neglects the safety and integrity of their supply chain does so not only at their own peril, but at the peril of hundreds of others. If those incidents represented mere reminders of that lesson, then the collapse of the Rana Plaza building on April 24 served as an all out remedial class in the importance of social compliance (to say nothing about the Smart Garments factory fire that claimed the lives of 8 people and two factories in Cambodia that suffered their own deadly collapses just days after Rana Plaza). Setting aside the massive human casualties of these incidents, each of them also managed to spark a chain reaction of outrage, protests, and worker walk-outs that led to massive disruptions in commerce and, ultimately, millions in lost revenue for the factories and brands alike. If there was a more critical time to take a closer look at the integrity of your supply chain, I don’t know what it is.
You will be happy to know that we at WRAP have been well-abreast of all these developments and have been working enhance our programs to meet the new social compliance challenges and maintain our position as a reliable and trusted supply chain management partner. So far this year, we have added staff auditors in Bangladesh, China, and India and have created a new Business Development position that will allow us to better connect with the brands and buyers who rely on us for their social compliance needs. We have also revised the health and safety sections of our audit to include more stringent evaluations of building and fire safety. On the training front, we have expanded our highly-acclaimed Fire Safety Training course to India and China and will be rolling it out in other countries in the coming months. During MAGIC, you will have a chance to learn more about how our programs have adapted to meet these new challenges and how WRAP can help ensure your products are being made safely, ethically, and responsibly in an ever-changing global sourcing environment. On Monday, August 19, our President and CEO Avedis Seferian will participate in a panel discussion titled “Fashion Industry Wake-Up Call: Innovative Ideas for Compliance” along with Jeanine Ballone, Senior Director at PVH and Dr. A Sakthivel, Chairman of India’s Apparel Export Promotion Council. Then on Tuesday, August 20, we will host our own workshop in the Cultural Center (Booth #52025) looking at the importance of training in social compliance and how WRAP’s training programs can help make your factories safer and compliant with international workplace standards. Of course, we will always be available throughout the show to answer your questions and talk with you at our main exhibit booth #S51310. We have also put together a short video at the bottom of this post that sums up what we will have to offer at MAGIC and how we can help give you peace of mind about your supply chain.
There is no question that the last 6 months have caused everyone in our profession to rethink how our products are made. The tragedies that have befallen the garment sourcing industry around the world lately should give pause to everyone in the business, regardless of job, title, or rank. It should prompt all of us to briefly pull out of the fashion industry fast lane and take a look behind us to make sure that the road is not filled with debris and destruction, but paved smooth to let others follow in our example.