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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
- PSF 2014: No one size fits all in apparel sourcing
- PSF 2014: Shifting focus from cost to consumer
- Garment manufacturers eye Myanmar outsourcing
- Bangladesh industry development moving backwards
- Teen retail being rocked by fast fashion headwinds
- Adidas China supplier in discussions over strike
- Gap issues mirror widespread industry challenges
- Bangladesh PM asks clothing buyers to pay more
- H&M "pushing the process" on sustainable fashion
- Adidas plans mobile phone hotline at all suppliers
- Ethiopia – the emerging textile and clothing industry
- Antimicrobial fibres, fabrics and apparel: innovative weapons against infection
- Trade and trade policy: clothing imports, consumer expenditure and trends in five emerging markets: Brazil, Colombia, India, Kazakhstan and Peru, 4th quarter 2013
- Sustainable Textiles for Apparel: Fact, Fiction and Future Prospects
- Jeans in Italy