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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.

PSF 2014: Shifting focus from cost to consumer

The apparel industry needs to find a better way of doing business. That's the stark message to emerge from supply chain executives who belie...

Bangladesh industry development moving backwards

Despite the many claims to the contrary, it would appear that China's share of the US garment export market has failed to decline - while at...

Sourcing segmentation is at odds with the data

The latest word is "segmentation": a trend whereby China is losing its position as a low-cost garment exporter and other countries have step...

Nicaragua footwear industry spells out advantages

Nearly two years after Nicaragua was hailed as a rising star on the world footwear stage, with potential to increase its position in both th...


PSF 2014: Ten sustainability takeaways 14 Apr 2014

Leonie Barrie

Being sustainable might be "the right thing to do," but it impacts each and every stage of the apparel industry and its supply chain. Here some of the participants at this year's Prime Source Forum in Hong Kong share their thoughts on the issue.


The Flanarant: Moving forward on backward linkages 18 Mar 2014

Mike Flanagan

The term 'backward linkages' - used by commentators a decade ago to describe clothing factories with spinning, weaving and dyeing facilities nearby - seems to be coming back into fashion. But far from being the key to success for garment makers, says Mike Flanagan, neither the commercial nor the environmental case stands up.


Sourcing: More action needed to trace raw materials 3 Mar 2014

Leonie Barrie

It's one thing for apparel brands and retailers to talk about sustainability and traceability across their supply chains, but another altogether to put it into practice. Indeed, new research reveals that despite the well-documented risk of sourcing forced-labour Uzbek cotton, many firms are still not taking enough steps to prevent its use in their products.


Sourcing from the Americas: speed, ease and stability 21 Feb 2014

Leonie Barrie

The hot topic of "reshoring" or "nearshoring" - returning the sourcing of fashion and textile products to the western hemisphere - continues to generate a buzz. But what's in it for brands and retailers looking to make the move?


The Flanarant: Can you choose your productivity philosophy? 17 Feb 2014

Mike Flanagan

The pressure for higher wages and better working conditions looks unstoppable – and is being accompanied by a wave of new initiatives aimed at making it easier for factories to compete while making these changes. But will they work? asks Mike Flanagan.


Comment: South Asia's role in the post-Bangladesh world 3 Feb 2014

David Birnbaum

While it may be too early to state with any degree of certainty that the Bangladesh bubble has burst, most sourcing professionals now accept that the bubble has developed sizeable leaks. These same sourcing professionals are also taking fast action not be caught in an increasingly probable implosion. The question, David Birnbaum asks, is where to move the Bangladesh business?


Comment: Wal-Mart fails to capitalise on Target weakness 3 Feb 2014

Katy Askew

News Wal-Mart has lowered its full-year earnings forecast reflects more than the drag of store closures as it adjusts its international portfolio. The US retail giant is struggling to grow its top-line at home and lower fourth-quarter comparable domestic sales suggest it failed to capitalise on the data breach scandal that hit key competitor Target Corp., Katy Askew suggests.


Crackdown on human rights weighs on Cambodia 31 Jan 2014

Leonie Barrie

Against the backdrop of a month of fierce protests, the worst state violence in Cambodia for 15 years, and an escalating crackdown on protesting workers, the United Nations this week launched its second Universal Periodical Review (UPR) of the country's human rights record.


Comment: Can Coupe build on Sainsbury's clothing momentum? 29 Jan 2014

Michelle Russell

Sainsbury's this morning (29 January) announced commercial director Mike Coupe will replace Justin King as the supermarket retailer's chief executive from July. While speculation will inevitably centre on what King will do next, the focus will also be on whether Coupe is a safe pair of hands for Sainsbury's and whether his focus will turn to the fast-growing area of clothing.


Comment: The cheap labour myth 27 Jan 2014

David Birnbaum

Successful garment exporters are taking a more academic approach to sourcing product. Instead of moving to the latest cheap labour country, their strategy is to reduce overhead by increasing worker productivity, training, and capital investment in cutting edge machinery. David Birnbaum explains why.


Outlook 2014: Three key shifts in the global garment industry 13 Jan 2014

David Birnbaum

From the rise of the billion dollar transnational factory giants to the bursting of the Bangladesh bubble and the decline of the retail store, David Birnbaum offers his take on the key apparel industry issues to watch in 2014.


The Flanarant: Politics, productivity and predictions for 2014 8 Jan 2014

Mike Flanagan

The last two weeks of December threw up three huge issues that overturned most of the current wisdom about the garment industry. In this month's Flanarant, Mike Flanagan looks at why it is so difficult to forecast long-term trends in garment making.


The Flanarant: Fast facilitation is key for garment trade 18 Dec 2013

Mike Flanagan

Trade Facilitation is the new industry buzzword, but can anyone get excited about it? asks Mike Flanagan. They should, he says, highlighting here the potential of the WTO's Bali Package to enhance clothing supply chains. He also urges the industry to push for fast implementation, noting that garment workers would be the biggest beneficiaries.


The Flanarant: China's competitiveness buoyed by Asia challenges 13 Nov 2013

Mike Flanagan

Despite a decision eight years ago by Japanese brands and retailers to cut the amount of clothing sourced from China, garment imports from the country are on the rise. Mike Flanagan believes the reasons should resonate with buyers in the US and EU too.


The Flanarant: Trade associations out of touch on transparency 17 Oct 2013

Mike Flanagan

A huge change has come over the clothing industry since the decision by around 120 fashion retailers and brands to sign the Bangladesh Accord or Alliance. But while buyers are becoming more relaxed about seeing factory audits published, trade associations seem to be increasingly out of touch.


Bangladesh remains number one alternative to China 1 Oct 2013

Wang Fangqing

Despite compliance issues, Bangladesh remains number one alternative Bangladesh's advantages in low cost and convenience will help to ensure the continued growth of its clothing sector keeps growing, Dr Achim Berg, a partner at consultancy firm McKinsey & Company, has reiterated.


The Flanarant: Unpicking the garment productivity myth 11 Sep 2013

Mike Flanagan

The issue of productivity in garment making countries around the world refuses to go away. But as Mike Flanagan writes here, there's no point in asking where the most productive workers will be in five years' time. It's the environment they're working in, and how that compares with other locations, he explains.


Comment: Fibre, textiles and “captive customers” 10 Sep 2013

David Birnbaum

In his previous article David Birnbaum suggested that the availability of local fibre appears to be a handicap for garment-making countries. Here he adds evidence that countries producing cotton fibre and textiles pay a price for their failure – while those without the benefit of local cotton fibre and textiles benefit.


Comment: Fibre and its role in the global garment industry 9 Sep 2013

David Birnbaum

For most industries, the availability of local raw materials is a decided advantage. Not so for the garment industry, says David Birnbaum, as he charts the relationship between a country's access to local fibre and its ability to follow changes in customer demand.


Comment: The future of compliance lies with the factories 29 Aug 2013

David Birnbaum

Turning the issue of compliance on its head, David Birnbaum believes that responsibility for improving working conditions and raising the garment export industry to higher level lies with the better factories, both in Bangladesh and elsewhere.


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