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.
For the past six years China's clothing producers have retained their dominance of world apparel manufacturing despite widespread forecasts of imminent collapse. At its peak share in 2009, China accounted for 42.3% of America's apparel imports; in the first nine months of 2016 this was almost unchanged at 41.2%. However, Mike Flanagan believes China's apparel exports now face a serious threat – from the Chinese government.
US president-elect Trump's stated policies on international trade worry a lot of people. But the explanations given by his new business-friendly team worry Mike Flanagan a lot more. Here he explains why Trumponomics is not only bad for US apparel – but a blow for Brexiteers too.
US president-elect Donald Trump used the campaign train to set out his stance on trade issues. Instead of dismissing this as bluff and bluster, Mike Flanagan believes he will stay true to his word to impose restrictions or higher tariffs on imports – leading to massive long-term uncertainty.
The apparent benefits of Ethiopia make the country a serious risk – both politically and commercially – for apparel and textile investors, Mike Flanagan believes. And the partial destruction by rioters of the Saygin Dima mill illustrates all too well the short-term superficiality of too many 'visionary' sourcing strategies.
Mike Flanagan spent the first six months of 2016 campaigning to stay in the EU. Not once, he writes, did I hear my opponents – or anyone in Britain's new, Brexit-friendly government – say they wanted to reject global integration or repudiate over 30 years of globalisation.
In late June and early July, Bangladesh's garment industry was hit by a number of new long-term threats. But the industry's leaders appear unaware of the real severity these threats posed to their viability, writes Mike Flanagan.
There's no doubt China faces a number of challenges, ranging from slowing economic growth to growing retail competition and – in March at least – a massive drop in year-on-year exports to the US. Continuing to expect the Chinese to rise to the challenge, Mike Flanagan takes a closer look at why nowhere else is ready to exploit the opportunities.
Slowing economic growth and growing competition are hitting the profits of Chinese retailers, while the country's clothing exports to the US dropped 39% year-on-year in March. Mike Flanagan takes a closer look at what this might mean for the apparel industry.
There's hardly an apparel industry commentator on the planet who's not forever going on about rising cost prices, writes Mike Flanagan. But he also wonders how often any of them look at what buyers are paying.
Don't believe those New Year forecasts, warns Mike Flanagan, as he debunks a few stories about four issues that are likely to be important in garment sourcing for some time.
Last week's announcement by Adidas that it expects its costs to rise sharply over the next five years underlines some crucial changes buyers in different countries have seen in their sourcing operations since the beginning of this century, explains Mike Flanagan.
On 5 October, the 12 countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) announced that their trade ministers had agreed a deal. But Mike Flanagan still doubts it will come into action this decade.
Britain’s Modern Slavery Act (MSA), which began coming into force on 31 July, sets new disclosure standards on an extraordinary number of garment businesses. But its legal niceties won’t really determine the law’s impact, believes Mike Flanagan, noting that public opinion matters more.
Are Bangladesh’s garment factory owners about to destroy their extraordinary apparel success story? On the face of it, the question sounds absurd, writes Mike Flanagan. But neither the BGMEA nor the Bangladesh government have shown any real interest in developing a compliant garment industry.
Can mass-market clothing be made legally - or ethically - in the UK or the US if it’s competing with low-wage production? Not according to Mike Flanagan, who calls Western labour practices "onshoring’s dirty secret."
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