just-style authors and correspondents
Mike Flanagan is CEO of Clothesource Limited, which provides apparel buyers and sellers throughout the world with the hard data they need to understand their competitiveness. Clothesource, with the world's largest collection of intelligence on clothing price comparisons, supplier capabilities and national resources, provides both buyers and sellers with advice and training on improving sourcing and selling skills.
Mike began his career in the advertising industry in the UK and Italy, before moving into retailing. Before setting up Clothesource, he held a number of senior international buying, marketing and operations posts in the retail divisions of groups such as Associated British Foods, British Petroleum and US Shoe.
Columns by Mike Flanagan
A forthright take on the follies the world’s apparel buying community has to deal with, from Mike Flanagan, CEO of Clothesource – and his suggestions for putting them right.
Articles by Mike Flanagan
The term 'backward linkages' - used by commentators a decade ago to describe clothing factories with spinning, weaving and dyeing facilities nearby - seems to be coming back into fashion. But far from being the key to success for garment makers, says Mike Flanagan, neither the commercial nor the environmental case stands up.
The pressure for higher wages and better working conditions looks unstoppable – and is being accompanied by a wave of new initiatives aimed at making it easier for factories to compete while making these changes. But will they work? asks Mike Flanagan.
The last two weeks of December threw up three huge issues that overturned most of the current wisdom about the garment industry. In this month's Flanarant, Mike Flanagan looks at why it is so difficult to forecast long-term trends in garment making.
Trade Facilitation is the new industry buzzword, but can anyone get excited about it? asks Mike Flanagan. They should, he says, highlighting here the potential of the WTO's Bali Package to enhance clothing supply chains. He also urges the industry to push for fast implementation, noting that garment workers would be the biggest beneficiaries.
Despite a decision eight years ago by Japanese brands and retailers to cut the amount of clothing sourced from China, garment imports from the country are on the rise. Mike Flanagan believes the reasons should resonate with buyers in the US and EU too.
A huge change has come over the clothing industry since the decision by around 120 fashion retailers and brands to sign the Bangladesh Accord or Alliance. But while buyers are becoming more relaxed about seeing factory audits published, trade associations seem to be increasingly out of touch.
The issue of productivity in garment making countries around the world refuses to go away. But as Mike Flanagan writes here, there's no point in asking where the most productive workers will be in five years' time. It's the environment they're working in, and how that compares with other locations, he explains.
The impact of unpredictable weather, over-geared retailers and uncertain consumers magnifies as it passes down the supply chain. But while pressure groups are adept at focusing on social and environmental scandals linked to the clothing industry, the impact of buyer behaviour rarely gets a look-in. Here, Mike Flanagan speaks up for garment factory owners.
Faced with an opportunity to change the course of events by getting Gap to sign up to the Accord on Fire & Building Safety in Bangladesh, an online petition and social media campaign made little difference to the company's stance - or its sales. As Mike Flanagan asks: Does social media matter only if concerned with things that don't?
In the past few months, some of the world's most powerful institutions have criticised how the apparel industry operates. And while businesses are getting advice from many different directions, Mike Flanagan wonders if compliance has reached a watershed moment.
- Garment firms set sights on Vietnam amid TPP talks
- Garment manufacturers eye Myanmar outsourcing
- Changes in China cotton policies cause uncertainty
- PSF 2014: No one size fits all in apparel sourcing
- PSF 2014: Shifting focus from cost to consumer
- Wage strike by Cambodia garment workers falls flat
- H&M still committed to higher wages and Bangladesh
- Vietnam Q1 textile and garment exports surge 21.9%
- Alliance inspections more than 50% complete
- Gap to grow China sales to $1bn in three years
- Ethiopia – the emerging textile and clothing industry
- Trade and trade policy: clothing imports, consumer expenditure and trends in five emerging markets: Brazil, Colombia, India, Kazakhstan and Peru, 4th quarter 2013
- Antimicrobial fibres, fabrics and apparel: innovative weapons against infection
- Sustainable Textiles for Apparel: Fact, Fiction and Future Prospects
- Jeans in Italy