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The best views and opinions in apparel and textile industry publishing, all in one place, from apparel and textile's monthly columnists and in-house experts.

2015: Welcome to the new fashion consumer

A new fashion consumer with new values and new connectivity is redefining fashion - and the industry is responding with new business models...

Online apparel retailing: Amazon-ly unviable?

Despite the hype, it's amazing how insignificant the internet is on the garment trade, writes Mike Flanagan. While every clothing brand and...

COMMENT: Defending the new model buying office

In recent articles David Birnbaum has discussed the changing role of the buying office, how to quantify performance, and the issue of transf...

COMMENT: The future of transfer pricing

Governments and tax authorities are finally getting smarter when it comes to the issue of transfer pricing – the prices charged between rela...

COMMENT: The decline of the buying office 18 Dec 2014

David Birnbaum

Twenty years ago major garment importers and retailers began to move away from independent agents to set up wholly-owned buying offices where every middleman performed the same work. Fast forward to 2014, and the range of services has soared in both number and complexity. The challenge, now, is to quantify the level of performance - and commission, writes David Birnbaum.

COMMENT: Challenge awaits Abercrombie & Fitch CEO replacement 10 Dec 2014

Michelle Russell

Abercrombie & Fitch's stock rose 6.7% yesterday (9 December) on the news its long-serving and often controversial CEO Mike Jeffries had stepped down. The move follows several quarters of lacklustre sales for the group and opens up something of a challenging role for his replacement.

THE FLANARANT: Has low-cost labour really reached a tipping point? 4 Dec 2014

Mike Flanagan

Low-income workers are likely to dominate the global garment-making workforce for a long time yet, Mike Flanagan believes, despite recent forecasts that the number of low-cost countries is dwindling.

COMMENT: Mothercare turns corner but work ahead 27 Nov 2014

Katie Smith

Struggling UK mother, baby and children's goods retailer Mothercare could finally be turning a corner after returning to profit in the first half of the year. But while the message is one of reassurance, more work inevitably lies ahead.

THE FLANARANT: Toxic discharge issue hits a tipping point 11 Nov 2014

Mike Flanagan

In the past six years apparel buyers have moved from avoiding commitment on toxic discharge to likely toxic-free production by the end of the decade. And China has moved from opposing legislation on hazardous chemicals to introducing a legally-enforced programme for eliminating them. Has the industry finally hit a tipping point? asks Mike Flanagan.

VIEWPOINT: Government delays weigh on Bangladesh reforms 28 Oct 2014

Leonie Barrie

The over-riding message from a review last week to look at ongoing efforts to improve worker rights and factory safety in Bangladesh's ready-made garment and knitwear industry seems to be that "a lot of work still remains to be done."

COMMENT: Innovation is the name of the game 24 Oct 2014

David Birnbaum

Innovation is all about change - sometimes planned, often unplanned. But there are lessons to be learned too, and as garment companies move to set up in-house innovation centres they would do well to take heed, writes David Birnbaum.

THE FLANARANT: Apparel lobbyists add to trade barriers 9 Oct 2014

Mike Flanagan

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.

VIEWPOINT: Cotton price decline unlikely to help clothing costs 30 Sep 2014

Leonie Barrie

With global cotton prices sitting at a five-year low, apparel firms should be benefitting from lower unit costs. That's the theory at least. The reality, however, is that any gains are unlikely to show up until the second half of next year - and more likely than not will be offset by rising labour and compliance costs.

COMMENT: Brand issues add to woes for online retailer Asos 23 Sep 2014

Michelle Russell

Just a week after Asos issued its third profit warning this year, reports at the weekend suggested a potential revolt from some of the brands it sells over its aggressive discounting - exacerbating issues already weighing on the online retailer.

THE FLANARANT: Understand win-win or lose out 9 Sep 2014

Mike Flanagan

The “win-win” viewpoint - in which all participants are seen to benefit in one way or another - infects huge swathes of modern thinking and often crops up in debates about the garment industry. In this month’s Flanarant, Mike Flanagan proposes three principles that a win-win needs if it is to succeed.

VIEWPOINT: Fitness fashion propels Athleta towards $1bn sales 27 Aug 2014

Leonie Barrie

Any talk of Gap Inc's portfolio invariably focuses on its Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy brands. But new number crunching suggests the company's Athleta women's athletic wear line is also gaining momentum.

COMMENT: Government giveaways stifle garment industry growth 12 Aug 2014

David Birnbaum

Governments have a vital role to play in supporting the modern industrial economy, but in many garment-exporting countries this positive support is both lacking and counter-productive. Based on his work in the Dominican Republic, David Birnbaum suggests government giveaways make change even more difficult.

THE FLANARANT: Who will conquer the sourcing world next? 6 Aug 2014

Mike Flanagan

The trouble with public announcements about ambitious garment industry plans is that it's not always clear anymore whether they are cynical headline-fodder - or not. While many are, Mike Flanagan describes India's new Vision for the sector as the "least-believable ambitious garment plans ever."

COMMENT: The current state of play in world garment exports 31 Jul 2014

David Birnbaum

Data from major garment exporting countries to the EU and US shows who's winning and losing so far in 2014. David Birnbaum looks at the trends.

THE FLANARANT: Is China's dream becoming a nightmare scenario? 11 Jul 2014

Mike Flanagan

China's leader Xi Jinping last year adopted The China Dream as the theme of his presidency, combining "economic prosperity" with "national rejuvenation". But Mike Flanagan suggests the second part of this vision is starting to look troubling - as recent events have shown - with potential to impact the apparel industry.

FEEDBACK: Constructive criticism good for social compliance 17 Jun 2014

Leonie Barrie

A survey designed to gauge the current state of play when it comes to social compliance certification schemes for the apparel and footwear sector suggests some buyers appear to be increasingly sceptical about what is on offer.

VIEWPOINT: Risk-averse retailers vote with their orders 12 Jun 2014

Leonie Barrie

The international apparel supply chain faces a complex array of risks and variables, and buyers are putting a high priority on minimum disruption. Indeed, there's a stark link between the three top-ten supplier countries whose imports to the US have fallen this year so far.

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

Mike Flanagan

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.

COMMENT: Bangladesh's garment trend lines look pretty poor 6 Jun 2014

David Birnbaum

Bangladesh's share of the US apparel market has been in decline since February this year. But a closer look at the figures shows that while it is holding up in basic men's wear, women's wear fashion is on a downward trajectory.

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