Asian garment factories were left holding the bag as big fashion brands across Europe and the United States cancelled orders for clothes, bags, and shoes worth billions of dollars in March and April in response to the COVID-19 lockdowns.
This resulted in hundreds of thousands of mostly women factory workers losing their jobs as manufacturers were forced to close their premises.
Some Western companies agreed to pay for orders that have already been shipped or are in production, when the workers outcry got too loud. Others asked for discounts or have delayed payment, leaving suppliers struggling to stay afloat.
A few retailers are making new orders, but the long-term survival of Asia’s garment factories and the welfare of its laid-off workers remain uncertain.
The companies that are still paying for their orders from the factories are: Next Plc, Walmart Inc., Bestseller A/S, H&M, Inditex (owns Zara and other brands), Marks and Spencer Group PLC, Tesco PLC, J Sainsbury PLC, ASOS PLC, Primark (part of Associated British Foods PLC), Mango and Fast Retailing Co Ltd (owns Uniqlo).
While some have new orders in the pipeline like, C&A, Next PPLC, Walmart , Bestseller A/S, ASOS PLC, Mango and Uniqlo.
Fashion brand New Look have downright cancelled their orders while JC Penney Co is delaying the payment for theirs.
Those whose order status could not be determined for this report are: Gap Inc., Mothercare PLC, Debenhams, Arcadia Group (owns Topshop and other brands), Sports Direct (owned by Frasers Group PLC), Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Urban Outfitters Inc (owns Anthropologie, Free People, Terrain and other brands) and Kohl’s Corp.
These brands declined to comment on the status of their orders and to give a statement for this report. (Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation)