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.
13 November 2013
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.
17 October 2013
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.
11 September 2013
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.
15 July 2013
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?
10 June 2013
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.
3 May 2013
Actions need to speak louder than words when it comes to tackling working conditions in the Bangladesh garment industry. And in the wake of the collapse last week of the Rana Plaza building near Dhaka, Mike Flanagan has what he describes as "a modest proposal" for identifying and delisting all unsound factories.
17 April 2013
The explosion in proposed trade agreements will probably stimulate major changes over the next decade in how apparel buyers organise their supply chains. But as Mike Flanagan explains, they never deliver what - or when - their lobbyists say they will.
13 March 2013
New pressures on Asian manufacturers are likely to hit apparel buyers on both sides of the Atlantic, including labour issues, minimum wages, raw material prices, abscondment, pollution and financial “redlining”. Mike Flanagan looks at the likely impact.
1 February 2013
Two campaigns carried out over the past two years by two groups of activists have achieved very different results. Whereas Greenpeace has successfully corralled major brands and retailers into its Detox programme, the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement (BFBSA) campaign has struggled to make a mark. Mike Flanagan looks at what the Bangladesh factory fire row tells us about the future of compliance.
14 January 2013
Sourcing is influenced by a lot more than wages and fabric prices. Infrastructure, social tension, energy costs, currency rates, power availability and a buyer’s ability to control the uncontrollable all make sourcing as unpredictable as ever in 2013, says Mike Flanagan.
5 December 2012
US brands and retailers were baling out of Bangladesh even before the fire at the Tazreen Fashion factory killed more than 110 people at the end of last month. And given the subsequent criticism aimed at Walmart for sourcing there, many other buyers must also be wondering whether the country continues to be worth the risk, according to Mike Flanagan.
19 November 2012
As Xi Jinping assumes the leadership of China's ruling Communist Party and prepares to get down to business, Mike Flanagan pens him an open letter offering up a few home truths about China's textile and garment industry.
5 November 2012
‘A New Dawn - Rebuilding UK Textile Manufacturing' was the title of a remarkable conference staged by Britain's textile industry on Friday (2 November). Remarkable for its positive inspiration - but also for the doubts it raised about the quality of thinking in the industry.
17 October 2012
Instead of searching for new sourcing hot-spots, Mike Flanagan is more concerned with new risks to production in previously stable garment-making environments. Labour disruptions, inflation, political unrest, mass illness, safety infractions are among the new raft of problems he terms the perils of social risk.
20 September 2012
Anyone believing that human rights abuses are endemic in offshore production should compare the levels of protection afforded to factory workers in the developing world supplying major Western brands with the experience of garment workers in the West. It's not as clear-cut as it seems, writes Mike Flanagan.
10 August 2012
The outpouring of rage that followed the revelation that Olympic opening ceremony uniforms for US athletes were made in China highlights a 'New Accountability' in apparel sourcing, Mike Flanagan believes. In the future, buyers and sellers will have to accept the increasing influence of outsiders on how they do business.
20 July 2012
There are a number of reasons why apparel buyers continue to focus on the top 20 exporting countries, according to Mike Flanagan. With little room left to manoeuvre on price, sourcing decisions depend on a whole range of different parameters - which is why forecasts for new supply bases are usually wide of the mark.
14 June 2012
Instead of trying to build their businesses by seeking cheaper production and new locations for their stores, retailers would be better off focusing on grown-up customers. Turn your priorities upside down, advises Mike Flanagan, and sell clothes Paul McCartney or Queen Elizabeth would buy. Because they represent the single most important statistic garment businesses need to understand in planning for their survival.
14 May 2012
Suggestions that reshoring, or bringing back jobs lost to China, would benefit the Western apparel industry are dismissed as "flagwash" by Mike Flanagan. But while such a move would make no economic sense, he believes there is still a need for businesses in developed countries to provide a range of sewing services.
16 April 2012
Towards the end of 2011, apparel imports into the US and EU suddenly collapsed. But this had less to do with falling consumer demand and more to do with Asian producers raising their prices, says Mike Flanagan. But many manufacturers still mistakenly believe there is some substantial alternative to Europe and North America as a source of orders.