Will Cambodia’s garment sector rebound after ‘horror year’? – fashion and trends

L on Vanna has been working across the clock for months however she doesn’t sew garments anymore – she guards the machines within the deserted garment manufacturing unit in Cambodia the place she as soon as labored.

Vanna believes the stitching machines are her solely hope for saving her residence and land, which she put up as collateral for a mortgage to feed herself and her ailing dad and mom after the brand new coronavirus pandemic shuttered the manufacturing unit in March.

“Those machines are my money; they are my life,” Vanna stated, pledging to carry them hostage till she receives about $2,000 in wages and bonuses owed since bosses shut the manufacturing unit, some 50km south of the capital, Phnom Penh, unannounced.

“We only know how to sew clothes,” she stated, sat amongst half a dozen former employees who guard the manufacturing unit across the clock, and in August chased away males despatched by the manufacturing unit homeowners to retrieve the machines.

“But we see no hope in the industry, only shut downs and sackings, so we can’t give up.”

Cambodia’s $7 billion garment sector – the nation’s largest employer with 800,000, largely feminine, employees – was dealt a double blow this yr by the coronavirus pandemic and by European Union (EU) tariffs imposed over human rights abuses.

Some Cambodian exports misplaced obligation-free entry to the EU in August because the bloc signalled its discontent over the Southeast Asian nation’s crackdown on opposition, civil society and the media.

Hard-won labour rights have additionally been rolled again this yr within the garment business, employees’ advocates say, because the virus has fuelled ‘union-busting’ at factories and poorer wages and circumstances for these nonetheless in a job.

Cambodia has rolled out some help for laid off garment employees, however employees and advocates say it has been inadequate and tough to entry.

Labour ministry spokesman Heng Suor instructed the Thomson Reuters Foundation that the method of making use of for monetary help was “not hard at all … as long as the factory files for suspension properly”.

Horror yr

Across the growing world, hundreds of thousands of employees in garment provide chains have been laid off and left unpaid in 2020 because the pandemic pummeled the worldwide fashion business.

Cambodian employees are owed greater than $120 million in unpaid wages for the primary three months of the pandemic alone, based on advocacy group Labour Behind the Label, describing it as a “mounting humanitarian crisis.”

Exports to the EU – often value round $5.5 billion a yr – dipped by virtually $1 billion within the first 9 months of 2020.

Global manufacturers, together with Adidas and Levi Strauss, had urged Cambodia to reform and drop legal fees in opposition to union leaders however Prime Minister Hun Sen, in energy for 35 years, stated the nation wouldn’t “bow down” to overseas calls for.

Bent Gehrt, Southeast Asia area director for U.S.-based Worker Rights Consortium monitoring group, described 2020 as a “horror year for garment workers”.

“The country’s performance on labour rights has deteriorated so severely that it has become a marketing liability for the country as a producer and increased brands’ reputational risk,” he stated.

Poised to rebound

Opinions are combined over the business’s future.

At least 110 factories have shut completely because of the lack of orders and the destiny of scores extra stays unknown, stated Ken Loo, a consultant for manufacturing unit homeowners, including that the scenario will grow to be clearer when 2021 membership charges are due.

Loo stated Cambodia’s garment business is properly-positioned to rebound as exports to the United States have surged in 2020, greater than 60 new factories have registered, and Cambodia has far fewer coronavirus circumstances than different Asian manufacturing hubs.

While India has recorded virtually 10 million infections, the second highest globally after the United States, and Myanmar greater than 100,000 circumstances, Cambodia has had lower than 400 circumstances and no deaths, a tally by Johns Hopkins University exhibits.

“Look at the alternatives – Myanmar, for example, where Covid is out of control,” stated the Loo, secretary-normal on the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia.

“This will be a factor for investors in the future.”

Loo stated he was additionally optimistic about commerce with Britain after the completion of its transition out of the EU on Dec. 31, which can deliver an finish to EU tariffs and permit Cambodia to export to Britain obligation-free.

“I don’t say it will make up the entire difference … but I don’t think we are in a worse position,” he stated.

Problematic

But fashion large H&M, which has about 50 factories in Cambodia, stated sourcing in Cambodia had grow to be “problematic” due to elevated tariffs, labour rights and environmental considerations, notably its current heavy funding in coal.

“Production countries that continue to see coal as a viable energy source for the future could potentially lose out on future investments,” H&M’s Cambodia nation supervisor Christer Horn Af Aminne stated.

Meanwhile, for Cambodians who do have work, competitors has pushed down circumstances and unionists proceed to be focused, stated Yang Sophorn, president of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions.

“Last month alone, we organised two new local unions in factories and our leaders at both have already been subject to either threats of, or actual, dismissal,” she stated.

Cambodia’s garment employees are on account of obtain a $2 rise within the minimal wage to $192 per 30 days in January – nonetheless beneath the dwelling wage of $588 calculated by the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, a provide chain foyer group.

The ladies guarding the stitching machines at Vanna’s former manufacturing unit, every owed just a few hundred to a couple thousand {dollars}, stated they’d little else to do and wouldn’t be leaving.

“I’ve sold my motorbike now, so I can’t go anywhere,” Hoeun Toeuth, 38, stated from behind a face masks.

“But we still have rice, and we will struggle until the end – this is the life of the worker.”

(This story has been printed from a wire company feed with out modifications to the textual content.)

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Startup develops software for displaying garment images in 3D – fashion and trends

A startup incubated by IIT Madras and NASSCOM has developed a software to transform flat images of conventional Indian clothes into picture-lifelike 3D images on e-commerce websites.

The software, its builders say, is a recreation changer for small and medium enterprises because it does away with the necessity of pricey mannequin photoshoots. The software, TRI3D, is geared toward serving to SMEs survive the financial challenges caused by Covid-19.

According to the staff, as many as 80,000 clothes have been digitized and bought utilizing TRI3D’s Technology in India, Sri Lanka and Abu Dhabi in the final one 12 months alone. More than 100 new era entrepreneurs from throughout 50 places in India have already deployed this know-how.

“Our unique apparel visualization technology converts flat images of garments such as sarees into beautiful photo-realistic 3D images on models, mannequins and creative representations. We have developed a software substitute for conventional model photoshoots, convenient for even the small boutique designers and weavers who cannot afford photoshoots,” mentioned IIT Madras alumni and startup co-founder Krishna Sumanth Alwala.

“The images generated by TRI3D are acceptable on most of the popular e-commerce websites. This digital technology will go a long way in ensuring small and medium businesses do not get behind in the digital revolution and are able to re-invent themselves for the pandemic era. “The painstaking task of arranging a day-long photoshoot with models having to constantly change in and out of sarees, is easily bypassed. The desired image is generated in a matter of minutes, without any compromise. The quality of the generated image is on par if not superior to the images taken by a photoshoot,” he added.

Elaborating on their know-how, Nitish Reddy Parvatham, Co-founder, TRI3D Startup, and an IIT Bombay Alumnus, mentioned, “A simple picture of a flat piece of a saree is automatically draped onto a model with unchallenged realism, by the power of technology. “The photo could also be one of an unstitched dress material and our software will not only ‘stitch’ the fabric but also visualise it as a finished garment draped onto a model, in a variety of poses”.

“Many top retail companies have encouraged us and helped us shape the product and its realism. We worked closely with one of the biggest fashion e-commerce players in India besides a major brand in South India, a couple of the largest saree retailers in Chennai,” he added.

(This story has been revealed from a wire company feed with out modifications to the textual content.)

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