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16 March 2012 | Angeline Albert
Trying to forecast the next clothes sourcing hotspot is a fool’s game, according to the chief executive of a garment sourcing specialist.
US and UK clothing buyers should consider all Asian countries and near-shoring but not fall for any hype about on-shoring, according to Mike Flanagan the chief executive of Clothesource, whose clients include Next, Gap and Marks & Spencer.
Speaking to SM from the Association of Suppliers to the British Clothing Industry event, Facing fashion’s supply chain challenges, yesterday where he was presenting a talk on the futility of forecasting the next sourcing hotspot, Flanagan said the use of China as a garment manufacturing hub was not going to stop and “the view that [organisations are] getting out of China is inaccurate”.
He said the price of garment production outside China is going up faster than in China. On the question of sourcing locations, Flanagan said it is not a question of sourcing from China plus one Asian country but China plus other Asian countries and other nearby nations.
He said: “Buyers should have a radar that covers all Asian countries and the world near you. Cast your net as wide as you possibly can.”
Flanagan said onshoring is being talked about but the numbers don’t bear this out. Based on Clothesource’s analysis of the US and UK’s domestic garment production output, only 1 per cent of their total production is sourced locally.
Sourcing hotspots for the clothing retail sector include Romania and Nicaragua. He said Romania in particular is popular because of its fast turnaround time, which complements retailer’s quick fashion trend changes. Referring to production in Romania, he said: “Garments can come off production line on a Wednesday afternoon and be in Milton Keynes on a hanger in a depot by Saturday morning.”
Clothesource, which was established in 1992 originally to find Eastern European garment factories for Western customers, holds intelligence on supplier price comparisons and supplier capabilities for nearly 100,000 factories in more than 100 countries.