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.
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.
7 March 2012
Why, when it produces 30% more cotton than it consumes, and when the world's unused stocks of cotton are forecast to be 50% higher by the middle of 2013 than they were in 2010, has India banned cotton exports? And why is its government so desperate as to ban even cotton exports it's already approved? Mike Flanagan takes a look.
14 February 2012
It's a widely held belief that Bangladesh is going to be the biggest beneficiary of any move of garment sourcing out of China. But not only is the volume of Bangladeshi exports slowing, prices are also inflating - and a serious shortage of manufacturing capacity means the country is struggling to cope with extra demand. Mike Flanagan looks at the issues.
10 January 2012
The biggest problem the world apparel industry faces at the start of 2012 is the ongoing combination of rising product costs and falling sales. The 'Great Apparel Slumpflation of winter 2011/2012,' as he calls it, is confusing everyone, everywhere, according to Mike Flanagan.
22 December 2011
There's been a huge amount of confusion recently about the competitiveness of Chinese textiles and apparel. While China's not offering the prices Western apparel buyers would like, it is cheaper in relative terms than it was a year ago, according to Mike Flanagan. Here he debunks a few other garment industry myths that rose to the fore in 2011.
16 November 2011
With more and more own label apparel retailers eyeing growth in Asia and Latin America to make up for shortfalls in their domestic markets, Mike Flanagan asks whether a business formula that's running out of steam at home will now work abroad. Especially if it's fuelled by designers who have little connection to those foreign customers.