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Manufacturing

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Comment: Changing patterns in global garment imports

7 August 2015 | David Birnbaum

Rising GDP and falling FOB prices have contributed to a shift in global garment imports over the past 15 years. But will these trends continue in the future? asks David Birnbaum.... read more


COMMENT: Asian union development and the Western response

29 July 2015 | David Birnbaum

For the past three years, industrial action has been on the rise in all Asian garment exporting countries. It is a replay of similar events that occurred almost everywhere in the early stages of industrial union development, says David Birnbaum. The difference, however, is that regulations relating to workers and factory working conditions are usually imposed by Western importers.... read more


Birnbaum bites back: Open costings - yes or no?

7 July 2015 | David Birnbaum

"Open book costing: for or against? As a supplier will it help to give buyers a breakdown of costs, or will buyers just use this as a means of driving cost down?" This question has been posed to garment industry expert David Birnbaum by a reader of just-style. His advice follows.... read more


MGMA’s efforts "truly remarkable" says Birnbaum

25 June 2015 | David Birnbaum

Global garment industry specialist David Birnbaum applauds MGMA’s efforts to improve labour rights and practices in Myanmar.... read more


COMMENT: Towards an Asian sustainable development strategy

22 June 2015 | David Birnbaum

In any discussion on social responsibility, the garment-exporting countries of South and Southeast Asia have a serious problem of credibility that nobody wants to address. Yet credibility is the single most important factor in determining the success or failure of any sustainable development strategy, writes David Birnbaum.... read more


COMMENT: Myanmar - the road forward?

16 June 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.... read more


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.... read more


COMMENT: Capacity building key to Myanmar momentum

30 April 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. ... read more


COMMENT: Myanmar - right time, right place, new challenges

14 April 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.... read more


COMMENT: Failing in Bangladesh - myth vs reality

12 March 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.... read more


Birnbaum bites back: Skills or new technology?

25 February 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. ... read more


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