The Impending Crisis

Birnbaum has a new book coming out. If you read my review of his first book you can imagine I’m pretty pleased about this. His first book (Birnbaums Global Guide To Winning the Great Garment War) is about outsourcing production so I thought I’d hate it but ended up liking it muchly. I have similar expectations for his next one. Julie V sent me her copy of his second book on sourcing (Birnbaums Global Guide To Material Sourcing) which I’ve yet to review and it’s also great. Here’s the marketing blurb for his upcoming title:

The Impending Crisis

Schwartz and Rosenzweig are partners in a garment import company, together they decided that Indian Madras jackets were about to stage a comeback. Now they are stuck with 200,000 units against which they hold firm orders for seven pieces.

Just when suicide was beginning to look like an attractive option, a stranger comes to their door and exclaims, “Madras jackets! I have been looking everywhere for Madras jackets. I will take all you have, at full price. I just have to check with my partner. Go ahead and pack the goods. If you do not hear from me by Thursday noon, ship.”

Thursday comes and the two partners are pacing up and down in their showroom. At precisely 11:59, the phone rings. Both of them stare at the phone, their lives passing before their eyes. Finally Schwartz picks up the phone and says, “Schwartz speaking. What do you want?”

Rosenzweig stands there, looking at Schwarz, waiting, waiting. Suddenly an enormous smile appears on Schwartz’s face. He hangs up the phone and says, “Great news, Rosenzweig. Your brother died.”

This ostensibly funny story precisely sums up the state of the garment industry today. We all know the garment industry is in trouble. Actually we have known this for the past 35 years. However, this time we are really in trouble. When Chinese mills close early for Chinese New Year, you know things are bad, even by the miserable standards of the garment industry.

Quite seriously, the industry is in a state of crisis. Even before the onset of the current recession, most factories, even the fashion factories, were lucky to break even. As for the customers, even when the consumers had money and wanted to buy, retailers had to mark down 30+%. Now that consumers do not have money and do not want to buy, stores will have to give the stuff away.

The so-called current problems have been with us for a very long time. The recent recession has simply brought them out in the open. One thing is clear, the old ways of doing business will no longer work and those companies that stay with their outmoded strategies will not survive. Size and past performance no longer guarantee success. When the dust settles, there will be a new garment industry, where only suppliers and retailer/importers with new innovative strategies will enjoy a return to consistent profit.

When business was good, we could barely afford this. Now, the old ways are an invitation to disaster. The global garment industry is in a state of crisis. How did we fall into this abyss and how do we climb out? My upcoming book (sequel to Birnbaum’s Global Guide to Winning the Great Garment War), will explain how we got into this mess. It also gives a clear step-by-step blueprint on creating a unified strategy in order to survive and prosper in the new 21st century industry.

I’ll be sure to mention when the book (Crisis in the 21st Century Garment Industry and Breakthrough Unified Strategies) is released. Of course I’m very curious as to his prescriptives. Maybe he’ll finally lower the boom on push manufacturing, particularly of commodities? I for one, have never been surprised at the current outcome. The only thing that surprises me is that anyone imagined there’d be any other result.

Today’s second entry will meander over more of Birnbaum’s topic, unfortunately providing no firm answers, just a lot of questions or out and out conjecture. Such is the state of things.

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