The Flanarant

The Flanarant

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 FLANARANT: Apparel lobbyists add to trade barriers 9 Oct 2014

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 FLANARANT: Garment growth unlikely under India's Modi 9 Jun 2014

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 FLANARANT: Yue Yuen strike reflects Chinese worker concerns 9 May 2014

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.

THE FLANARANT: Following fashion isn't the best sourcing strategy 30 Apr 2014

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 Flanarant: Moving forward on backward linkages 18 Mar 2014

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 Flanarant: Can you choose your productivity philosophy? 17 Feb 2014

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 Flanarant: Politics, productivity and predictions for 2014 8 Jan 2014

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.

The Flanarant: Fast facilitation is key for garment trade 18 Dec 2013

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.

The Flanarant: China's competitiveness buoyed by Asia challenges 13 Nov 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.

The Flanarant: Trade associations out of touch on transparency 17 Oct 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.

The Flanarant: Unpicking the garment productivity myth 11 Sep 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.

The Flanarant: Social media misses the mark when it matters 15 Jul 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?

The Flanarant: Is the tide of social accountability turning? 10 Jun 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.

The Flanarant: Solutions to prevent another Bangladesh tragedy 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.

The Flanarant: Trade deals - the devil is in the details 17 Apr 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.

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