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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.

Why should brands care about China cotton?

International fashion brands and retailers are being urged to help build a more resilient cotton supply chain in China if they want to secur...

COMMENT: Skills or new technology?

Skills or new technology: which gives better leverage to a manufacturing country? This question has been posed to global garment industry ex...

COMMENT: UK reshoring is far from a done deal

An increasing amount of hype in recent years has focused on the business of reshoring, including two separate reports in the last week alone...

Optimising supply chain with ship-from-store

Investment in mobile and omnichannel retail is the number one business priority for the year ahead, according to a recent survey of UK retai...


COMMENT: 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.


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.


VIEWPOINT: Is Black Friday losing its lustre? 1 Dec 2014

Leonie Barrie

Early holiday promotions, the continued growth of online shopping, and an improving economy appear to be changing the way US consumers approach what has traditionally been the biggest shopping weekend of the year.


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: Port shutdown fears add to US apparel headwinds 7 Nov 2014

Leonie Barrie

US businesses are urging the government to intervene in the ongoing dispute at US west coast ports, amid worsening delays on shipments of holiday merchandise and fears a total shutdown may be imminent.


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.


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