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 – What's behind Britain’s apparent apparel export boom? 22 May 2017

When it comes to apparel-making in Britain, there's one thing we all think we know: there isn't very much of it. But Britain's official trade statistics seem to tell a very different story, writes Mike Flanagan.


The Flanarant – An assembly-worker free apparel industry? 10 May 2017

For the past 20 years, Western buyers have been getting lower prices by switching production to countries with exceptionally low wages. But do recent announcements from Amazon and Adidas mean automated manufacturing is going to grow? asks Mike Flanagan.


The Flanarant – Post-Brexit customs chaos could choke apparel trade 31 Mar 2017

As the two-year process for Britain leaving the European Union (EU) officially got underway this week, a critical but little-discussed problem for apparel importers – especially in fast fashion – is not just the prospect of tariffs in a new customs regime, but disruption to the free flow of goods. This is the one Brexit problem the apparel industry must focus on, stresses Mike Flanagan.


The Flanarant – New political plans add long-term buying uncertainty 2 Feb 2017

Seemingly endless trade-related government announcements in the US and UK throughout January were full of ideas for greater national control. But none offered a single detail that sourcing firms could use – making business planning a nightmare for buyers and potentially disrupting supply chains, says Mike Flanagan.


The Flanarant – Is China about to burst its apparel trade bubble? 10 Jan 2017

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.


The Flanarant – Why Trump has blown the case for Brexit out of the water 8 Dec 2016

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.


The Flanarant – Why Trump will be true to his trade threats 9 Nov 2016

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 Flanarant – Ethiopia violence undermines 'visionary' sourcing strategies 12 Oct 2016

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.


The Flanarant – Why voters don’t want more global supply chains 19 Aug 2016

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.


The Flanarant – Bangladesh must face up to new industry threats 8 Aug 2016

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.


The Flanarant – Why no other countries will step into China’s shoes 7 Jun 2016

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.


The Flanarant – Is China really going through a slump? 19 May 2016

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.


The Flanarant – Are apparel prices really rising? 12 Feb 2016

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.


The Flanarant – New Year forecasts begin with excess expectations 19 Jan 2016

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.


The Flanarant - Apparel sourcing strategies continue to diverge 18 Dec 2015

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.


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