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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.

Can the Gap brand reclaim its iconic status?

The latest string of financial reports paint a very dull picture for the mid-market fashion industry in the US, writes Bernadette Kissane, a...

Onshoring has labour compliance challenges too

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 M...

Frustrations come to the fore in Bangladesh

Both the Alliance and Accord have long expressed their concerns at the Bangladesh government’s lack of engagement in the process of making g...

Towards an Asian sustainable development strategy

In any discussion on social responsibility, the garment-exporting countries of South and Southeast Asia have a serious problem of credibilit...

COMMENT: German sustainability scheme a "supersized" Accord 17 Jun 2015

Mike Flanagan

While global trade programmes have stalled this month, the German-led Partnership for Sustainable Textiles has been making quiet headway on its promise to bring about “social, ecological and economic improvements all along the textile supply chain.” Indeed, it has turned into a supersized version of the Accord, suggests Mike Flanagan.

COMMENT: Myanmar - the road forward? 16 Jun 2015

David Birnbaum

Everyone wants to see a successful Myanmar garment industry. Governments in garment importing countries, importers, the international institutions and development banks are all on board. But by far the greatest obstacle is compliance, writes David Birnbaum.

TECHNOLOGY: Advanced RFID spurs move to integrated apparel tags 11 Jun 2015

Guest author

Fully integrated RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags, which combine RFID inlays with all critical printed data and graphics into a single ticket, are sparking a surge of interest from apparel retailers, brand owners, manufacturers and their global suppliers, according to George Hoffman, CEO at FineLine Technologies.

COMMENT: Will a stable AGOA help Africa's apparel industry? 9 Jun 2015

Mike Flanagan

Re-energising US apparel imports from Africa has been among the recent concerns of US brands and retailers. But Mike Flanagan wonders if they’re missing the real problem: finding alternative apparel sources – in Africa or anywhere else – is a lot tougher than it looks.

COMMENT: US ports dispute skews sourcing shifts 13 May 2015

David Birnbaum

The US West Coast ports dispute is having a lingering impact on US apparel import figures, with the latest data showing year-on-year trends skewed by logistical bottle-necks. Perhaps the one clear trend, according to David Birnbaum, is that the big winner was China.

THE FLANARANT: What’s really changed in Bangladesh? 7 May 2015

Mike Flanagan

There’s a huge gap in Bangladesh between two business philosophies: those with realistic profit expectations, and those who are obsessed with controlling costs. And recent events have highlighted just how wide this gulf is, according to Mike Flanagan.

COMMENT: Capacity building key to Myanmar momentum 30 Apr 2015

David Birnbaum

A focus on the development of locally-owned factories is an impediment to the development of the garment industry in Myanmar, David Birnbaum believes. Instead, he suggests the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA) must take a leading role in moving the industry forward.

COMMENT: How will TPP emerge from fast-track trade bill? 21 Apr 2015

Mike Flanagan

A bipartisan package of bills introduced last week could pave the way for “fast track” negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). But there are still a lot of barriers before a TPP agreement emerges, believes Mike Flanagan – and it more than likely won’t be the deal US apparel importers have pushed for.

COMMENT: Myanmar - right time, right place, new challenges 14 Apr 2015

David Birnbaum

As apparel retailers and brands continue to seek alternatives to their traditional suppliers, David Birnbaum contends that Myanmar is the last remaining place in Asia that can support a major garment industry. But if it is to reach its true potential, manufacturers and customers must work together to overcome some serious problems.

THE FLANARANT: Factory strike exposes Vietnam worker vulnerability 10 Apr 2015

Mike Flanagan

A week-long strike at a Taiwanese-owned footwear factory in Vietnam has exposed a looming pension crisis and worker shortage in a country that many see as a key sourcing alternative to China.

VIEWPOINT: Pou Yuen strike underscores Vietnam challenges 9 Apr 2015

Leonie Barrie

Strikes and protests are rare in Vietnam, but recent demonstrations by thousands of footwear factory workers underscore some of the challenges facing one of the industry’s main manufacturing hubs.

COMMENT: Cutting-edge companies focus on consumer needs 25 Mar 2015

Emma Birnbaum

Cutting-edge companies are hitting back at design and low quality stock manufactured by a faceless and perpetual assembly-line. In its place, the vanguard of the new industry is developing original and revolutionary business models.

COMMENT: Tackling the challenges of sourcing cotton sustainably 19 Mar 2015

Michelle Russell

Sourcing cotton more sustainably is increasingly moving up the agenda of global apparel brands and retailers as the environmental and social impacts become ever clearer. However, while many are already working to address these issues, it seems there is much more still to be done.

COMMENT: Failing in Bangladesh - myth vs reality 12 Mar 2015

David Birnbaum

The accepted wisdom is that the Bangladesh garment industry’s state of decline is the result of the Tazreen Fire and the Rana Plaza building collapse. However, much as we would like to believe that goodness and mercy trumps FOB price and profit, the data tells another story.

THE FLANARANT: Budget detail disappoints India garment makers 6 Mar 2015

Mike Flanagan

Last May, India overwhelmingly elected Narenrda Modi as Prime Minster. While apparel factory owners thought he was “business friendly,” few showed much public support for his annual budget on 28 February. Buried in the fine detail, there’s a reason both they and their workers might also be annoyed.

COMMENT: US teen apparel retailers fight to stay relevant 6 Mar 2015

Michelle Russell

Slow store traffic and declining sales have become a common theme for US teen apparel retailers, resulting in brands closing stores and changing strategies in a bid to lure back customers. But is this enough to carve out a recovery?

SOURCING: Why should brands care about China cotton? 26 Feb 2015

Leonie Barrie

International fashion brands and retailers are being urged to help build a more resilient cotton supply chain in China if they want to secure supplies of the raw material for the future. But can they really make a difference, and why should they care?

Birnbaum bites back: Skills or new technology? 25 Feb 2015

David Birnbaum

Skills or new technology: which gives better leverage to a manufacturing country? This question has been posed to global garment industry expert David Birnbaum, who has agreed to share his advice and opinions by answering questions from just-style readers on topics of special interest.

COMMENT: UK reshoring is far from a done deal 18 Feb 2015

Michelle Russell

An increasing amount of hype in recent years has focused on the business of reshoring, including two separate reports in the last week alone. Yet, while industry observers are keen to highlight the opportunities offered by a return of apparel manufacturing to the UK, it seems reshoring is far from a done deal.

COMMENT: Optimising supply chain with ship-from-store 17 Feb 2015

Leonie Barrie

Investment in mobile and omnichannel retail is the number one business priority for the year ahead, according to a recent survey of UK retail chief executives. But creating a dynamic supply chain that can profitably support the extensive product fulfilment options offered to customers is going to be a major challenge.

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