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David Birnbaum

Why basic cost sheets don't work for clothing companies

17 December 2019 | David Birnbaum

The basic garment cost sheet is a breakdown of costs for each material and step. But retailers and brand customers do not care about supplier costs – and the factories have nothing to learn from them, says David Birnbaum. Instead, he suggests data is the tool to make the best decision. ... read more


What does the future hold for Hong Kong?

29 November 2019 | David Birnbaum

For the past 40 years Hong Kong has been the centre of the global garment industry. Yet today, Hong Kong is in a state of chaos as protesters wage a battle for its future. Here, David Birnbaum shares his thoughts on what's happening and why.... read more


Low labour rate countries squeezed hardest on price?

25 September 2019 | David Birnbaum

There is a common belief that low-labour-rate countries are forever being victimised by their customers, who force the factories to accept unacceptably low FOB (free on board) prices. This has never made sense, less so now than ever before, writes David Birnbaum.... read more


The Trump trade war moves from reality to fantasy

2 September 2019 | David Birnbaum

President Trump's goal to force brands and retailers to move their orders out of China, at no cost to the US consumer, is the final triumph of fantasy over reality, writes David Birnbaum. Where are we going to move production? Will there be an added cost? And if so, who will pay?... read more


Trump's Christmas gift to China hosiery makers

22 August 2019 | David Birnbaum

Some say President Trump's decision to delay the introduction of certain new tariffs until December is a gift to American consumers. David Birnbaum believes it is President Trump's Christmas gift to China's hosiery makers.... read more


Why it's time to build a new US textile industry

9 May 2019 | David Birnbaum

In an increasingly competitive world, it is time for the US textile industry to consider a new strategy, according to David Birnbaum. Instead of relying on free-trade partners for exports, he suggests a move away from garment related fabrics, a focus on high-tech materials, and replacing the yarn forward rule with fibre-only could be the key to reinvention.... read more


The new revolution that will change our industry – Comment

25 January 2019 | David Birnbaum

We are now in the early stages of a new revolution that will completely change the apparel industry  – and is being run by a new generation of consumers and a new generation of suppliers, writes David Birnbaum, as he offers his take on the year ahead.... read more


The failure of the US garment industry – Part III – Reshoring Y/N

16 November 2018 | David Birnbaum

A 65-year strategy to force US consumers to buy made-in-US garments has been an all-time disaster, asserts David Birnbaum, with the result that the US garment industry is now in a state of failure. The technology to create smart factories means reshoring has the potential to revolutionise the industry. But the key question in this, the last in a three-part series, is: Will reshoring benefit the US garment industry?... read more


The failure of the US garment industry – Part II – Captive Customer Syndrome

8 November 2018 | David Birnbaum

In the second article in a three-part series examining the failure of the US garment industry, David Birnbaum shows how US government policy to force consumers to buy made-in-America apparel succeeded in almost destroying domestic manufacturing.... read more


The failure of the US garment industry – Part I

1 November 2018 | David Birnbaum

For the past 20 years, imports have accounted for between 97%-98% of all garments sold in the United States. But while everyone seems to agree that cheap labour from poor countries has all but destroyed the domestic US manufacturing industry, that assumption is not borne out by the data. In fact, the data shows that labour rates – high or low – have nothing to do with imports, garments or otherwise. Here, in the first of a three-part series, David Birnbaum takes a look at the failure of the US garment industry.... read more


What does US import data for a single month show us?

21 September 2018 | David Birnbaum

Month-by-month the US Department of Commerce's Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA) releases US garment import data. But does one month's information really provide garment professionals with a greater understanding of the industry and the direction in which it is heading? David Birnbaum provides some answers.... read more


Can Myanmar's garment sector reach its full potential?

29 August 2018 | David Birnbaum

After a United Nations (UN) report this week branded Myanmar’s refugee problem one of the world’s worst humanitarian and human rights crises, David Birnbaum looks at the knock-on impact for the country's garment export sector. He argues that while Myanmar is one of the few alternatives to China for high value-added, complex and difficult-to-make products, its poor reputation may prevent it from reaching its full potential.... read more


The unintended consequences of China clothing tariffs – Comment

13 August 2018 | David Birnbaum

If President Donald Trump imposes punitive tariffs on Chinese imports into the United States, David Birnbaum believes the move would simply subsidise every other garment exporting country in the world, in the form of increased orders at higher prices.... read more


No miracle at midnight on the coming garment tariffs – Comment

26 July 2018 | David Birnbaum

China is the target in the upcoming trade war with the US, and Donald Trump's latest threat to impose tariffs on all US$500bn of imported goods from China will undoubtedly hit garments. But replacing China means replacing 37-42% of all US apparel imports – and its deflationary impact on FOB prices, writes David Birnbaum.... read more


Trends in US garment imports from South Asia

28 March 2018 | David Birnbaum

This, the second in a series of articles showing month by month changes in US garment imports, covers South Asia: India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.... read more


Winners and losers of a Trump tariff on China garments

22 March 2018 | David Birnbaum

As President Donald Trump prepares to impose punitive tariffs on Chinese imports into the United States – which could include apparel and footwear – David Birnbaum takes a look at the potential winners and losers in the global garment trade.... read more


What’s best for business – Family firms vs public companies

2 March 2018 | David Birnbaum

Why are family-run firms prospering while traditional professionally-run multinational corporations are failing? David Birnbaum suggests the best examples of the contrast between the two are to be found within the global garment industry.... read more


Trends in US garment imports from Mexico and DR-CAFTA

17 January 2018 | David Birnbaum

Negotiators are preparing to meet for the sixth round of NAFTA trade talks next week – and as soon as this deal has been repackaged, the spotlight could turn to the US free trade agreement with Central America. Here, in the first of a series of articles showing month by month changes in US garment imports, David Birnbaum takes a look at Mexico and DR-CAFTA.... read more


The e-commerce revolution yet to come – Comment

10 January 2018 | David Birnbaum

It is only a matter of time before the internet will undercut almost every traditional supplier of consumer services and products, writes David Birnbaum, adding: The only survivors will be the few brick & mortar and e-commerce companies that provide real value.... read more


American populism and the global garment industry – Comment

4 January 2018 | David Birnbaum

Our industry is undergoing a truly generational change. Do we really want to fight pick a fight with our consumers as well? asks David Birnbaum.... read more


Unravelling the Indian garment export anomaly

8 December 2017 | David Birnbaum

How is it possible that an industry that, for all practical purposes, is dominated by a single season can become one of the world's largest garment exporters? David Birnbaum takes a closer look at the Indian garment anomaly.... read more


The coming trade war – From America first to America last

19 October 2017 | David Birnbaum

There is an increasing possibility that we are moving inexorably towards a global trade war. Should there be a trade war, the responsibility will lie with the United States and, more precisely, with its President and his America First policy. And the implications would not just hit trade, but also social issues and security.... read more


Strategies to survive in a declining apparel market

5 October 2017 | David Birnbaum

Surviving in a declining market is the biggest challenge for the discount/mass-market retailers and suppliers of commodity products such as basic T-shirts, hoodies or cotton men's shirts. David Birnbaum believes it is time to stop negotiating and bring in the engineers.... read more


Breaking out of the cheap commodity garment trap

31 August 2017 | David Birnbaum

From basic commodities to high value added fashion, why do some industries develop while others remain forever mired in cheap garments? David Birnbaum takes a closer look.... read more


Solving tomorrow’s apparel industry problems today – Comment

2 August 2017 | David Birnbaum

Almost the entire US garment retail sector is in trouble, yet companies such as Amazon are moving ahead. Brick-and-mortar stores cannot compete with Amazon. Instead, in order to succeed they must out-Amazon, Amazon, writes David Birnbaum.... read more


A tale of three countries – Vietnam, India, Bangladesh

14 July 2017 | David Birnbaum

Things are no longer going well for Bangladesh when it comes to US garment imports, writes David Birnbaum, as he takes a closer look at why the country has been left behind as its competitors have moved forward. ... read more


Lies, damned lies, and statistics – the sustainability version

22 June 2016 | David Birnbaum

Garment making is to a large degree a model for sustainability, says David Birnbaum, adding that those working towards greater sustainability have an obligation to be transparent and accurate. What is not needed is input from those who lack the experience and knowledge to help.... read more


The decline and fall of the supply chain manager

11 May 2016 | David Birnbaum

The role of the middleman has become far greater and more important than ever before, with responsibility beginning before the onset of the supply chain and continuing long after its end – as David Birnbaum explains.... read more


TPP and the garment industry – are there any winners?

15 April 2016 | David Birnbaum

David Birnbaum is trying very hard to understand how the garment provisions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) will affect US stakeholders. I can understand just who will fall into the loser column, he writes. The problem is finding anyone to place in the winner column.... read more


The rise of the millennial industry requires radical change

11 January 2016 | David Birnbaum

As he refocuses his business on the next generation, consultant David Birnbaum explains why he believes the global garment industry is breaking apart – and how competing in the internet age requires retailers and brands, the big internet players, the 'itsy-bitsy' internet industry, and the supplier factories to take an honest look at the problem and try to create realistic solutions.... read more


US apparel import countries – the winners

2 December 2015 | David Birnbaum

US garment imports have not only reached record levels but, based on recent data, growth is accelerating. David Birnbaum has used this as an opportunity to take a snapshot of the global garment industry: the current position of exporting countries and more importantly the direction in which they are moving. This article, the first of three, looks at the success stories.... read more


US apparel import countries – stuck in the middle

2 December 2015 | David Birnbaum

US garment imports have not only reached record levels but, based on recent data, growth is accelerating. David Birnbaum has used this as an opportunity to take a snapshot of the global garment industry: the current position of exporting countries and more importantly the direction in which they are moving. This article, the second of three, looks at the less successful.... read more


US apparel import countries – the losers

2 December 2015 | David Birnbaum

US garment imports have not only reached record levels but, based on recent data, growth is accelerating. David Birnbaum has used this as an opportunity to take a snapshot of the global garment industry: the current position of exporting countries and more importantly the direction in which they are moving. This article, the third of three, looks at the losers.... read more


Comment: TPP winners and losers

13 October 2015 | David Birnbaum

Now that it appears the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) may actually come to pass, which apparel and textile producing countries are most likely to benefit and which will not? David Birnbaum agrees that Vietnam will be the big winner — but believes the greatest loser will almost certainly be the US textile manufacturers.... read more


Comment: How to build momentum in mass-customisation

16 September 2015 | David Birnbaum

While technology is often an important tool for innovation, new technology in itself does not necessarily result in innovation, writes David Birnbaum. But he believes the technology is available to finally help solve the mass-customisation problem.... read more


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