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."
La Double J made a name for itself with its vintage-inspired prints, but for resort, designer JJ Martin has ventured into new territory: enter rich jewel toned solids and decadent embellishment, in the form of appliqués, crystals and sequins. #wwdfashion #resort19 #ladoublej
This Just In: J. Crew Group has named Johanna Uurasjarvi as its chief design officer.
Uurasjarvi succeeds Somsack Sikhounmuong, who left the company last September. Tap the link in bio for the full report. #wwdnews
“She came into my hotel room and she was like, ‘I have Chanel and Christian Dior.’ She was like, ‘Chanel likes you.’ And I was like, ‘I’m going to start crying,’” breakout star Maddie Hasson tells WWD of her styling sessions Molly Dickson. “I really like classic, elegant things. I love the way Anna Wintour dresses.” Read more about Hasson’s role in @impulseseries on wwd.com. (📸: @jgreenery ) #wwdeye
@virgilabloh revealed he's working with Australian stylist and
Vogue Australia fashion director @christinecentenera for his debut @louisvuitton men's collection, which will be presented in Paris on June 21. Centenera met Abloh while both working with Kanye West, where she consulted on his all his runway collections since his debut spring 2012 women's wear show. Read the full story on WWD.com. #wwdfashion #wwdnews (📷: @asussmanphoto)
"In order for Shudu to wear garments, she needs to be able to put them on, just like you would in the real world. You have to digitize the outfits," said Cameron-James Wilson on dressing 3-D model @shudu.gram for her WWD photoshoot with @itsclo3d. #wwdfashion (📸: @cjw.photo)
“Shudu is a digital supermodel, a very glamour and amazing woman. But she’s 3-D,” says Cameron-James Wilson, a fashion photographer and the creature of @shudu.gram. Here, Shudu wears @cushnieetochs for her debut fashion editorial. #wwdfashion (📷: @cjw.photo)
“It is the fierce female performances that came before me that made be able to clearly identify for myself what it was that I wanted to do, what kind of artist I wanted to be, what kind of films I wanted to make,” said @brielarson at the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards. See more pictures from the event on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: Matt Baron)