Many sports and fashion brands that have shifted part of their sourcing for apparel and footwear to Myanmar because of its lower labor costs are watching with awe the consequences of the recent military coup in the country. According to observers, it may be difficult for some of them to cancel orders in the midst of the season, unless they are working on a fast-fashion mode.

Besides, any cancellations would likely have a direct impact on employment in the country. Some pictures of the persistent and violent demonstrations that are taking place there show workers who are members of the Federation of Garment Workers in Myanmar (FGWM) agitating signs that ask global apparel brands and specific companies such as C&A, H&M and Inditex to “ensure no workers are fired for joining pro-democracy protests.”

OVS, an Italian chain of variety stores, said that it would keep its “limited presence” in Myanmar but would stop its business with suppliers that discriminate against workers involved in protests.

Many of the textile factories where their products are made are said to be owned by Chinese investors. The Chinese government is said to be backing the new military regime in the country, although it has joined other countries and the United Nations in reprimanding it for letting its policemen kill more than 125 demonstrators so far.

H&M, which has about 45 suppliers in Myanmar, and Benetton Group have announced that they would stop placing new orders in the country. Fashion Retailing, the Japanese parent of Uniqlo, reported that two of its textile factories in the country were affected by blazes in the midst of the demonstrations, but there were no casualties.

A spokesman for Adidas released the following statement: “We are deeply concerned about the situation in Myanmar and condemn all forms of violence. We are in close contact with authorities, international agencies and our suppliers in Myanmar. Our primary concern is the safety and wellbeing of the workers in our partner factories. We are also concerned with the long-term prospects for the country, given the recent developments.”

Photo: © Ye Linn Wai on Unsplash