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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.

US ports dispute skews sourcing shifts

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...

FLANARANT: What’s really changed in Bangladesh?

There’s a huge gap in Bangladesh between two business philosophies: those with realistic profit expectations, and those who are obsessed wit...

Capacity building key to Myanmar momentum

A focus on the development of locally-owned factories is an impediment to the development of the garment industry in Myanmar, David Birnbaum...

How will TPP emerge from fast-track trade bill?

A bipartisan package of bills introduced last week could pave the way for “fast track” negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)....


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.


Birnbaum bites back: SME survival in a world of giants 13 Feb 2015

David Birnbaum

Global garment industry expert David Birnbaum has agreed to share his advice and opinions by answering questions from just-style readers on topics of special interest. Our first query asks about operating small and medium-sized factories in an industry dominated by multinational giants.


THE FLANARANT: Is legal action the key to compliance? 10 Feb 2015

Mike Flanagan

There is growing pressure from activists and governments to make Western laws apply to alleged non-compliance in developing country garment factories. But be careful what you wish for, advises Mike Flanagan, who points out that the most likely outcome is that countries will be blacklisted with no effort to improve standards.


COMMENT: 2015: Welcome to the new fashion consumer 28 Jan 2015

Emma Birnbaum

A new fashion consumer with new values and new connectivity is redefining fashion - and the industry is responding with new business models structured around customer demand. Here new fashion consumer Emma Birnbaum writes about the new fashion consumer.


THE FLANARANT: Online apparel retailing: Amazon-ly unviable? 12 Jan 2015

Mike Flanagan

Despite the hype, it's amazing how insignificant the internet is on the garment trade, writes Mike Flanagan. While every clothing brand and retailer uses the web for moving, receiving and monitoring information, relatively few clothes are sold this way.


VIEWPOINT: US apparel imports fall from eight of top-ten suppliers 9 Jan 2015

Leonie Barrie

With most holiday merchandise brought into the US early as retailers rushed to beat a possible shutdown of West Coast ports, it is perhaps not surprising that apparel imports fell in November. But with shipments plunging from eight of the top-ten suppliers, Vietnam alone was the stand-out performer during the month.


COMMENT: Defending the new model buying office 5 Jan 2015

David Birnbaum

In recent articles David Birnbaum has discussed the changing role of the buying office, how to quantify performance, and the issue of transfer pricing. The next challenge, he says, is the need for detailed audits to ensure that buying offices set their commissions fairly.


COMMENT: The future of transfer pricing 23 Dec 2014

David Birnbaum

Governments and tax authorities are finally getting smarter when it comes to the issue of transfer pricing – the prices charged between related businesses, such as buying offices and their parent companies - as David Birnbaum explains.


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.


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