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
Low-income workers are likely to dominate the global garment-making workforce for a long time yet, Mike Flanagan believes, despite recent forecasts that the number of low-cost countries is dwindling.
In the past six years apparel buyers have moved from avoiding commitment on toxic discharge to likely toxic-free production by the end of the decade. And China has moved from opposing legislation on hazardous chemicals to introducing a legally-enforced programme for eliminating them. Has the industry finally hit a tipping point? asks Mike Flanagan.
A decade-long enthusiasm for cutting trade barriers has come to an end, with sceptical electorates now seeing more downsides than upsides. But trade lobbyists continue to chase new barrier cuts, or defend concessions that have already reached the end of the road.
The “win-win” viewpoint - in which all participants are seen to benefit in one way or another - infects huge swathes of modern thinking and often crops up in debates about the garment industry. In this month’s Flanarant, Mike Flanagan proposes three principles that a win-win needs if it is to succeed.
The trouble with public announcements about ambitious garment industry plans is that it's not always clear anymore whether they are cynical headline-fodder - or not. While many are, Mike Flanagan describes India's new Vision for the sector as the "least-believable ambitious garment plans ever."
China's leader Xi Jinping last year adopted The China Dream as the theme of his presidency, combining "economic prosperity" with "national rejuvenation". But Mike Flanagan suggests the second part of this vision is starting to look troubling - as recent events have shown - with potential to impact the apparel industry.
Will "strong man" politicians kick-start the sluggish garment industries in India and Pakistan? asks Mike Flanagan. Evidence so far, he suggests, shows progress ranges from positive to unconvincing.
The recent strike by workers at a Chinese plant operated by Taiwanese footwear manufacturer Yue Yuen was as much to do with the status of migrant workers as the firm's sharp practice, believes Mike Flanagan. And it certainly doesn't mark the start of a Guangdong Spring uprising.
Retailers and brands are increasingly engineering their operations to make the most of changing trends affecting everything from sourcing to sales. But as Mike Flanagan points out, the model that works for one company is unlikely to work for another. Here he gives some examples.
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.
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- COMMENT: The decline of the buying office
- 2014: Year in review - Brand winners and losers
- 2014: Year in review - Retail winners and losers
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- Report urges overhaul of Cambodia factory safety
- North Face debuts locally-grown "backyard" hoodie
- Apparel manufacturing leads US reshoring trend
- Bangladesh knitting worker killed by faulty lift
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