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GLOBAL – Research by Apparel Insider suggests the issue of purchasing practices in relation to cancelled orders has polarised the global apparel industry. Our findings suggests a brave new world of industry ethics and sustainability could emerge post-COVID-19 as consumers gain the clearest picture yet of which brands have been simply talking the talk on such issues – while others show that they actually walk the walk.

In fact, it has become clear that a small handful of brands, led by H&M, PVH, Inditex and VF Corp, are standing by their suppliers, agreeing to pay for all cancelled orders while refusing to engage in the rampant demands for supplier discounts sweeping the industry. That this group of progressives includes the world’s two largest apparel retailers is a huge positive.

On the other side of the fence, however, are a broader collection of brands, including the likes of C&A, Primark, Bestseller and Gap, which are refusing to honour cancelled orders, in effect sharing their liabilities with supply chains.

In some cases, the evidence suggests retailers are taking such desperate measures to simply stay afloat; in others, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that brands – which in many cases have preached the importance of ethics for more than a decade – are their suppliers down the river at the worst possible time.

We reached out to 20 of the world’s leading apparel retailers and asked, specifically, what their stance is with respect to cancelled orders, and how they are dealing with wholly or partially completed orders. Here we present our feedback.

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