By and  on March 23, 2010

The world’s manufacturers are looking to strengthen customer relationships by expanding the services they provide and moving forward with initiatives to become more sustainable enterprises.

Smaller countries such as Sri Lanka and Singapore have found success by uniting their apparel industries around campaigns. Sri Lanka, for instance, has tried to make its experience in ethical sourcing a selling point to brands.

In 2006, Sri Lanka launched the independently monitored Garments Without Guilt program under the leadership of Kumar Mirchandani, chief executive officer of apparel at producer Favourite Group and an advocate of the country’s fashion industry. The stakes are high for the small country.

“This industry is a huge part of Sri Lanka’s economy,” Mirchandani said. “It’s almost 10 percent of our [gross domestic product]. It’s the highest employer.”

The program encourages ethical treatment of workers and environmentally conscious production. Mirchandani said Sri Lanka was doing its part, but added retailers need to be aware of the impact lastminute changes to orders can have on factory conditions and suggested that stores begin to look more closely at their interaction with factories.

“True partnerships are still very hard to find,” he said.

The issue is made harder by a consumer who is only partially engaged in the issue of ethical sourcing.

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SEE VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE KUMAR MIRCHANDANI DISCUSSION>>
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SEE VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE SUSAN OLIVIER DISCUSSION>>
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