just-style authors and correspondents

David Birnbaum

Articles by David Birnbaum

Demands for higher wages and better working conditions are the major cause of industrial action by garment workersCOMMENT: Asian union development and the Western response 29 July 2015

For the past three years, industrial action has been on the rise in all Asian garment exporting countries. It is a replay of similar events that occurred almost everywhere in the early stages of industrial union development, says David Birnbaum. The difference, however, is that regulations relating to workers and factory working conditions are usually imposed by Western importers.


The long-term import trend may be negative, but count China outCOMMENT: Where next for US apparel imports from China? 16 July 2015

Every month the US Government's Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA) publishes industry import data, and every month professionals pounce on this data to provide the latest information on China's import trends. Yet they all draw different conclusions, says David Birnbaum.


Open costing is a demand imposed on a factory by the customerBirnbaum bites back: Open costings - yes or no? 7 July 2015

"Open book costing: for or against? As a supplier will it help to give buyers a breakdown of costs, or will buyers just use this as a means of driving cost down?" This question has been posed to garment industry expert David Birnbaum by a reader of just-style. His advice follows.


MGMA’s efforts "truly remarkable" says Birnbaum 25 June 2015

Global garment industry specialist David Birnbaum applauds MGMA’s efforts to improve labour rights and practices in Myanmar.


Should sustainable development in the garment industry be voluntary or imposed?COMMENT: Towards an Asian sustainable development strategy 22 June 2015

In any discussion on social responsibility, the garment-exporting countries of South and Southeast Asia have a serious problem of credibility that nobody wants to address. Yet credibility is the single most important factor in determining the success or failure of any sustainable development strategy, writes David Birnbaum.


COMMENT: Myanmar - the road forward? 16 June 2015

Everyone wants to see a successful Myanmar garment industry. Governments in garment importing countries, importers, the international institutions and development banks are all on board. But by far the greatest obstacle is compliance, writes David Birnbaum.


For five months industrial action at US West Coast ports seriously affected imports from AsiaCOMMENT: US ports dispute skews sourcing shifts 13 May 2015

The US West Coast ports dispute is having a lingering impact on US apparel import figures, with the latest data showing year-on-year trends skewed by logistical bottle-necks. Perhaps the one clear trend, according to David Birnbaum, is that the big winner was China.


The MGMA must play a leading role in moving MyanmarCOMMENT: Capacity building key to Myanmar momentum 30 April 2015

A focus on the development of locally-owned factories is an impediment to the development of the garment industry in Myanmar, David Birnbaum believes. Instead, he suggests the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA) must take a leading role in moving the industry forward.


Many workers have left the industry thanks to the low wages offered by the traditional Myanmar owned factoriesCOMMENT: Myanmar - right time, right place, new challenges 14 April 2015

As apparel retailers and brands continue to seek alternatives to their traditional suppliers, David Birnbaum contends that Myanmar is the last remaining place in Asia that can support a major garment industry. But if it is to reach its true potential, manufacturers and customers must work together to overcome some serious problems.


Bangladesh’s market share to the US is falling, but to the EU and elsewhere continues to riseCOMMENT: Failing in Bangladesh - myth vs reality 12 March 2015

The accepted wisdom is that the Bangladesh garment industry’s state of decline is the result of the Tazreen Fire and the Rana Plaza building collapse. However, much as we would like to believe that goodness and mercy trumps FOB price and profit, the data tells another story.


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