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Impact of Ukraine war on industry

Editorial | May 1, 2022 | By: Tim Goral

General George Armstrong Custer was noted for saying, “It’s not how many times you get knocked down that count, it’s how many times you get back up.” While Custer eventually got knocked down one too many times, there is still a lesson to be learned here.

Getting knocked down is a part of business and life. It’s not the end of the world, but if you stay down and fail to recover you’re not going to get very far. Getting back up is the key to success in all areas of life, business, relationships and more. Over the past few years, the textile industry has been knocked down by the COVID-19 pandemic, labor and supply shortages, rising costs and a multitude of other events. Each time, those who had the strength and courage to “get back up” have survived, albeit somewhat bruised and battered. 

At the time of this writing, the latest “knocked down” challenge is the effect on the textile industry caused by the late February Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Dr. Sheng Lu, an associate professor of fashion and apparel studies at the University of Delaware, explained how the conflict will impact the industry. “While Russia and Ukraine play a minor role in apparel production and trade, it doesn’t mean the apparel industry is immune to the ripple effects of the military conflict,”  he said in an interview with “As the immediate result of the escalated tension, the world oil price jumped substantially. This means textile fibers derived from oil, such as polyester, could face tremendous price pressure. As man-made fiber becomes more expensive, the demand for natural fiber could also increase, extending the price inflation to natural fiber eventually.”

Another concern is the rising cost of essential raw materials such as cotton, as well as food (many of Europe’s staple foods are imported from Ukraine and Russia), which in turn raises the cost of labor and end-user prices.

But the textile industry, if nothing else, has proven to be resilient. The war won’t last forever, and the ones who “get up after being knocked down” will survive and, hopefully, thrive.

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