SINGAPORE — One afternoon last September, about 1,000 textile workers marched through Myanmar's commercial capital of Yangon, demanding higher wages. It was an unprecedented show of labor activism in the hitherto authoritarian country, but the striking workers were just one group in a growing number of Southeast Asian industry employees agitating for better pay. Wage inflation has swept across Southeast Asia. While salaries for garment workers here are still generally lower than those earned by their counterparts in China, a slate of recent legislation has meant double-digit increases in regional minimum wage levels over the past year. These pay raises come as China unveils its own plans to raise its minimum wages by 2015.In January, Thailand's government hiked the minimum wage in 70 cities across the kingdom by approximately 80 percent to 300 baht, or $10.08 at current exchange, per day. This followed a similar increase in eight more developed districts last year. RELATED STORY: Chinese Industry Weighs Labor Issue >>Similarly, authorities in Jakarta last month increased basic pay levels by more than 40 percent to 2.2 million rupiah, or $227.11, per month. In September, Cambodia's government implemented a $73 monthly effective minimum wage, up from $50 as recently as 2009. Salaries are likely to continue rising. According to the Source Association of Southeast Asian Nations Full Service Alliance, an industry group, wages in Vietnam are due for review by its government in March and apparel workers in Laos and Cambodia have begun pressing for an increase in their salaries to $120 per month, a roughly 50 percent jump in both countries. Many garment factory owners aren't happy with the wage spikes and the haphazard way they say the increases have been carried out. In Jakarta and Thailand, the increases were announced after the electoral victories of populist governments in 2012 and 2011 respectively, leading to grumbles that they were politically motivated. "This year is already hard because of the crisis in Europe and wages are another [problem]," said Luv R. Mahtani, director of Bali Nirwana Garments, a 1,500-man factory just outside Jakarta. "The government allows us to apply for a waiver if we're labor intensive but it's a long process and [the waiver is] only for 6 months or a year, so what's the point?" "Some factories are still fighting to stay alive but I'm sure there will be some that will be closing down in the second half of this year because they cannot bear the wage increase," said Sukij Kongpiyacharn, president of the Thai Garment Manufacturers Association, in a telephone interview. "The Prime Minister has appointed a cabinet member to oversee a remedy but there is not much that they can do to help the [worst] affected." Some operators with diversified holdings however, welcomed the wage hikes. "It's a good thing because it's leveled the playing field, so our time can be used to focus on internal efficiencies such as how we process orders and become more sustainable," said Mark Lee, chief executive officer of Sing Lun Holdings, a Singapore-based apparel firm which has invested in factories across Indochina for the last five years. "If we look at improving in other ways, buyers won't move just so that they can save 10 cents on a piece of apparel."
To celebrate Pride 2018, @themarcjacobs released the #GratefulNotHateful campaign, a social media initiative aimed at extending Pride beyond the parade. Inspired by Jacobs’ everyday outlook, the campaign features Jacobs along with a group of models and social media stars who are members and supporters of the LGBT community, all seen wearing @marcbeauty’s Highliner Gel Eye Crayons in colors of the rainbow. Head to our Instagram stories to see close-ups of the liner. #wwdbeauty
Virgil Abloh’s dad Nee and Don Crawley, cofounder of RSVP Gallery, were some of the hometown crew at the Chicago-born designer’s debut show for Louis Vuitton. (📸: @jdiderich ) #wwdmens #louisvuitton #virgilabloh
About last night: @marycharteris and @adwoaaboah hit up Hyde Park for the Serpentine Galleries’ annual summer party held in partnership with @chanelofficial. Head to WWD.com to see more photos. #wwdfashion
“This is Paris, my first show. I’m all about democracy. If some kid shows up, flew from New Jersey to just be around, let’s get him a seat.” — @virgilabloh tells WWD’s @jdiderich ahead of his first show for @louisvuitton men’s. (📸: @alfredo_piola ) #wwdmens #virgilabloh #louisvuitton
“Kate Spade was a true fashion icon who brought joy to the lives of women around the world, and inspired women to live life to the fullest. We are dedicated to carrying on her legacy,” said Anna Bakst, brand president and chief executive officer of @katespadeny. The Kate Spade Foundation announced that it will be donating $1 million to suicide prevention and mental health awareness in tribute to the recent death of Kate Spade. Read more on WWD.com. #wwdnews (📷: @chinseephoto)
A first look at @virgilabloh’s sneakers for @louisvuitton. Abloh spoke to WWD about his debut collection for Louis Vuitton, creating @kendalljenner’s #metgala outfit and redefining the heritage brand. Read the full story on WWD.com. #wwdfashion 📷: @alfredo_piola)
The world’s largest producer of denim @iskodenim is sharing the strategy behind its product development process. Read our full interview with ISKO’s product development manager Baris Ozden on the company’s extensive research practices, upcoming denim trends and the latest material innovations on WWD.com. #iskodenim