China’s Dual-Control of Energy Consumption: The Impacts for the Clothing Industry
The Dual-Control of energy consumption in China is having a knock on effect to clothing manufacturers around the world and in this blog, we discuss why and how to adequately prepare as a clothing brand.
5 minute read
What is the Dual-Control Energy Policy?
On the 16th September, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) released the scheme to improve the dual-control policy in China. The policy – which sets targets on total energy consumption and energy intensity – was introduced by the central government to curb the country's emissions.
China, being the world-leader for the export of textiles previously set an ambitious target of ensuring 15% of the country's energy is derived from renewable sources. The scheme itself isn’t new, or revolutionary - China actually implemented this scheme back in 2016, but recently revised it amid concerns that they wouldn't meet their targets.
Since the beginning of the year electricity production in China has increased by about 10% as the economy has bounced back from the pandemic. It’s just that the Chinese energy juggernaut has run out of steam after running down stocks of coal apparently in the hope that either Beijing would lift all environmental restrictions that increase the cost of producing electricity with coal or that world prices would fall. While Beijing has eased some emissions targets, world prices have carried on soaring.
Why does this matter to clothing brands, or clothing manufacturers?
There’s no hiding from the fact the clothing industry would not be where it is today without the assistance of clothing manufacturers overseas, predominantly in China. The issue with cutting energy supplies the way the Chinese government has is that it reduces clothing suppliers operational efficiency.
Power cuts and shortages means that some suppliers are forced to shut down for days at a time. The impact this will have on clothing brands and businesses across the world has already been seen - coupled with the delays and impact of the ongoing COVID19 pandemic, brands and clothing manufacturers who rely on outsourcing entire, or elements of production (including fabrics) to China will need to asses their supply chain and establish what can be done to alleviate any knock on effect.What can clothing brands do to prepare?
What can clothing brands do to prepare?
The keyword here is “prepare” - the unfortunate reality of the way the world is right now within supply chain management is that you simply need to be more prepared, expect delays and manage your own expectations as to what is realistic to expect when sourcing from clothing factories over in Southeast Asia.
Manufacturing overseas is great (in fact, we have a blog which explains the pros and cons of manufacturing overseas, compared to here in the UK) - it allows you to access potentially cheaper unit costs, higher quality workmanship, more efficiency and ease of production; especially with full-scale production where the clothing manufacturer will source fabrics, create patterns, cut make and trim all in-house but this does come with some things to consider.
The short, simple fix to the above would be to move manufacturing out of China into an alternative country and that can work for some brands, but not for everyone.
So, what do you do if sourcing a clothing manufacturer in the UK isn't an option?
A lot of startup clothing brands who approach us are under the misconception that the process of manufacturing is relatively easy…
“How long does it really take to manufacture one t-shirt?”
The answer is not long, but that’s assuming the specification is clear and concise, the fabric supplier has material to-hand, the garment technologists are free to create and grade a size chart, then to create paper patterns and the appropriate seamstress is on-hand to construct the item, alongside the branding team to apply all labels, printing and then the quality control manager to oversee the process… now you can start to understand how this isn’t something that can be done quickly - there’s a lot of moving parts and therefore you need to be properly prepared.
It never hurts to assume something will take twice as long as you’ve either been told, or it has in the past - this can be difficult when preparing collections for seasonal trends in fashion branding, but it’s something that needs to be considered. Afterall, it’s better to have stock a couple of months too early than a couple of months too late.
Secondly, find a reliable clothing manufacturer - it goes without saying that if your custom clothing manufacturer doesn't stick to deadlines, or makes up excuses as to why they’re late on production then this could cause your brand issues on launch. Manufacturing is complex, with a lot of moving parts and delays do occur but finding a clothes manufacturer who is able to manage your expectations properly is one of the key differentiating factors between brands who release collections on time and those who miss out on trends, seasons and end up with a lot of dead-stock.