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Events have accelerated changes that were always underway, shocked people into changing habits just like with the MFS and bill paying.

But this is also an example of how those changes are going to ripple out — as with the effect of home working on those sandwich bars in the business district.

This will probably have an effect on the garment industry in Bangladesh.

Because online clothes sellers look for a different set of attributes in their suppliers than those selling from physical retail locations.

Okay, this is one of those things that are not exactly and wholly true — like so much in economics — but which is largely so.

For an internet retailer, the speed of supply is much more important than it is to a brick-and-mortar seller. Because, trends and fashions change both more often and more swiftly online.

Zara, which buys a lot from the Bangladeshi garment factories, is sort of a halfway stage here.

Part of the secret of their success was that they did not run on predictable stock cycles.

They did not have the four seasons of clothes each year running on predictable timetables.

Rather, they had a constantly changing constellation of stock. To supply this, they would — and do — buy some substantial portion of their supplies from the big garment factories.

But when they espied something that was selling well, they would top up that stock with something made in Spain or Northern Portugal.

This is because, the time of supply was vitally important — it takes, perhaps, seven days to get it from Iberia instead of the 60 or 90 days it takes to source it from Bangladesh.

Online takes this a stage further.

Boohoo, one of the largest e-tailers in the UK, might have something in stock only days after it was first seen on some TV programme.

Someone fashionable wears something, folks want it, and it is copied and available near immediately.

To do this, they use UK-based factories. The higher price of manufacture is more than covered by the speed of supply.

9 thoughts on “Elsewhere”

  1. Interesting that they aren’t just using air freight from Bangladesh. Perhaps it’s not just a matter of transport time & cost. Rather, it’s important to have skilled local staff who can both create the initial design and iron out any production issues (e.g. how do you attach sequins to the inside of a pocket?).

    This is not uncommon in other sectors, from manufacturing to IT: UK designs & does test runs, overseas does bulk work.

  2. Or Formula 1 (and other racing series). It may be high tech but it is craft rather than mass production. Obviously, fashion is more to the mass side …

  3. It’s an interesting business model and is currently successful

    Iirc aren’t they buying Debenhams internet business to expand quickly?

    Cue calls.for them to pay MOAR tax in one….two….

  4. watching count down. Saw the Brummie guy, Adrian Childs?, say he made a series about whether it’s possible to be dressed top to toe in British made stuff. Not really interesting to me especially turned off when he mentioned Hebdon Bridge (which i think’s been a topic here before), i.e. hipster niche brand stuff…Yawn…But could be more interesting if he goes into economics of the industry rather than just a plug for eco mercantalism.

  5. Off topic but I see that Marcus Rashford has described tweets he’s received as ‘humanity….at its worst’.

    A few social media posts certainly puts historical mass genocides into perspective.

  6. Andrew C. It’s just possible that the tweets were posted after 9 minutes of yesterday’s match when Rashford, having had his chin lightly brushed by an Arsenal player, went down clutching his eye as if shot.

    In his defence he’s hardly the only one doing it but football supporters take a dim view of such behaviour and he is pretty high profile these days.

  7. @Hallowed Be, yeah you don’t want to know about Hebdon Bridge which is just down the road from me. Full of BBC people, media people, and lesbians. I used to know it 40 years ago, it was a run down shithole then. Now the alternatives have taken it over it looks better, but its still niche.

  8. SadButMadlad- yeah I’ve nothing against indy start up fashion business, quite the opposite in fact. But a lazy faux moral narrative is what we usually get rather than a economic reality based one as Tim just highlighted. Plus talking for half an hour on a national broadcast about someone bringing industry back to the north – when the units they’re making or even hope to make are a few decimal places of what tesco sells in an hour, feels like they wasted our time.

  9. Hands up, who wants a job at a sewing desk.
    Sew these buttons on these cardigans, 2000 per shift.
    Don’t all shout at once now.

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