WASHINGTON — The American Apparel & Footwear Association is calling for an immediate ban on U.S. apparel, footwear and textile imports from Myanmar in light of a recent government report depicting deteriorating human rights...
WASHINGTON — The American Apparel & Footwear Association is calling for an immediate ban on U.S. apparel, footwear and textile imports from Myanmar in light of a recent government report depicting deteriorating human rights conditions.
Kevin Burke, president and chief executive officer of AAFA, said Tuesday that the government of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, "continues to abuse its citizens through force and intimidation, and refuses to respect the basic human rights of its people."
Burke said, "AAFA believes this unacceptable behavior should be met with condemnation from not only the international public community, but from private industry, as well."
He acknowledged that the association cannot guarantee that all of its 483 members do not source in Myanmar, but he said many companies have stopped sourcing there.
"We as an association made the decision to oppose production in Burma and my hope is that others [who still produce there] will see the light and stop," said Burke. "But we can’t tell them what to do."
He said the Myanmar government’s inaction is completely at odds with the group’s mission statement, which calls for workers to be treated fairly and with respect. It is the first time the association has ever taken a stance against a country and advocated a ban, Burke said.
The call for a ban echoes what human rights and labor groups have been advocating for years. The U.S. and other countries have imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Myanmar, including cutting off investment and diplomatic ties, as well as international aid.
In 1997, President Bill Clinton signed a ban on all new investment in the country, but apparel contracting at Burmese-owned or jointly owned ventures did not fall under that ban.
Military rulers seized the country in a bloody coup and refused to yield control to the opposition, National League for Democracy, after it won by a landslide in 1989. Since then, the country has become a pariah, known for its appalling record on human rights abuses.
Human rights activists have persuaded several well-known apparel retailers and manufacturers to stop buying products or making products in Myanmar, according to the Free Burma Coalition, a Washington-based nonprofit group that organized a boycott campaign in a fight to unseat the country’s military regime.Over the past three years, 39 retailers and manufacturers have banned sourcing in the country or refused to buy products made there, according to the coalition. Among the companies it claims have said "no" to Myanmar are Federated Department Stores, Jones Apparel Group, Tommy Hilfiger, Wal-Mart, Dress Barn and Ross Stores.
Saks Inc., the most recent retailer to take a position, said in March the company’s policy is not to buy merchandise manufactured in Myanmar and the buyers are so instructed, according to the coalition, which has posted a letter from a Saks executive on its Web site. Saks officials could not be reached for comment, but Federated confirmed that it will not buy products from the country.
Despite the recent move out of Myanmar, a sizable portion of apparel is still produced in the country and shipped to the U.S. For the year ending Feb. 28, apparel and textile imports from Myanmar totaled 159.76 million square meters equivalent and were valued at $315.3 million.
While imports of women’s and girls’ cotton knit blouses fell by 13 percent to 21.6 million SME for the year, imports of cotton underwear rose by 7.2 percent to 17.66 million SME, as did imports of other man-made fiber coats, which rose 2.37 percent to 22.915 million SME.
"We’ve pushed Made in Burma products out of the high-end retail market and into the discount market," said Dan Beeton, director of campaigns at the Free Burma Coalition. "It’s really companies that don’t have a name brand reputation that we now have to worry about."
He claimed it will be much harder to push discounters, which often carry lesser-known labels, out of Burma due to a lack of consumer awareness.
Of the AAFA’s new stance, Beeton said, "It’s very significant in that it shows this is now an extremely mainstream thing for the industry to do. It shows that Burma is a pariah nation and is so notorious in its human rights abuses that no apparel company wants to be associated with the country."
There'll be no rest for those headed to Europe for men's, as Paris just closed the gap with Milan. According to a provisional calendar released by the Chambre Syndicale, Paris Men's Week will now open a day earlier on January 16. See new highlights on the official lineup on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
BREAKING: Jonathan Saunders is leaving @DVF. The designer has resigned from his position as chief creative officer of Diane von Furstenberg, the company said in a statement on Friday. At the time of his hire, von Furstenberg said Saunders’ arrival symbolized and facilitated her stepping back from the day-to-day duties that occupy the work of a full-time creative director. The British designer joined DVF in May 2016 and was in charge of all product categories. #wwdnews
For @versace_official’s spring ad campaign, the brand emphasized the archival prints from the spring tribute collection dedicated to the late Gianni Versace. Closing out the show were five of Gianni’s favorite models: Cindy, Naomi, Carla, Helena, and Claudia. Bowing on December 18, the new campaign is yet another tribute to supermodel-dom as the images by Steven Meisel are fronted by @iamnaomicampbell, @cturlington, @gisele and more. #wwdfashion
Four-time Oscar-nominated actress Annette Bening has been waiting 20 years to play Gloria Graham in "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool," which will be released on December 29. The movie about Graham – a Hollywood star known for her controversial relationship with a younger Englishman named Peter Turner – is based off a memoir Turned wrote. "She felt vulnerable to him, because she loved him, she really did love him. And anyone that we really truly are in love with, we re vulnerable to in a very deep way," said Bening. Read our full interview with the modern icon of an actress on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @ninebagatelles; Styled by @cristinaehrlich)
The crisp white button down: a staple that can be dressed up or down and accessorized throughout the decades. Here, on a Art Basel-goer in 2017 on the left and on the iconic Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” in 1953 on the right. #tbt #wwdfashion (📷: Andrew Morales)
Known for her work with @victoriassecret, 25-year-old model @georgiafowler is raising her profile in Hollywood. Fowler stars in @vincecamuto’s holiday campaign, which launched in partnership with “Pitch Perfect 3.” “Almost every shoot with Vince Camuto, I’ve had to face a fear…It was definitely a challenge. I’m so grateful for it, though. I’ve always wanted to be a pop star, so that was the perfect chance,” Fowler said. Head to WWD.com to read about Fowler’s experience modeling, including at the #VSFashionShow, and her relationship with Nick Jonas. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
EXCLUSIVE: Huda Kattan just became the first beauty influencer to land a major beauty deal. Kattan's business, @hudabeauty, has received a minority investment from private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners. The brand, which industry sources say is on track to do $200 million in retail sales for 2017, will receive support on product, retail and geographic expansion through the deal. Get all the details on the deal and read @_a_collins' interview with Kattan on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdbeauty #wwdnews
Peruvian model @juanaburga_official – who is known for walking the runways of @rodarte, @viviennewestwood and @torybuch – is making the move to the big screen with drama “Los Últimos.” The film premiered in Argentina in November and arrives in the U.S. and Europe in 2018. On making the switch from modeling to acting, Burga told WWD: “It’s a completely different thing – a lot of people think it’s similar or try to connect things, especially like getting used to the camera or being looked at all the time or playing these different characrers, but film is a completely different story.” #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery)
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)