Mango and Sustainable Fashion Sourcing Strategies

Former Global Head of Buying and Sourcing at Mango and Buying Manager at Inditex

Why is this interview interesting?

  • The differences in Mango and Zara's supply chain
  • How fashion retailers are changing the way they work with suppliers
  • Cost pressures throughout the fashion supply chain
  • Biggest challenges for fashion retail suppliers today
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Executive Bio

Alessandro Bertini

Former Global Head of Buying and Sourcing at Mango and Buying Manager at Inditex

Alex has over 25 years experience in buying and sourcing and over 15 years specifically for leading fashion retail brands. In 2004, he joined Mango as a Senior Buyer where he was responsible for the entire buying process of finished garments and materials. Alex spent over 10 years at Mango, rising to Buying Manager at Massimo Dutti, a leading brand of Inditex. Alex currently leads Buying for Womenswear at Zalando. Read more

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Interview Transcript

Alex, could you briefly explain how Mango’s supply chain is structured?

Mango works with a couple of different supply chain models. There are two principle ones and then, within each of these two models, there are some sub-differences. The principle model is the model that is most commonly employed in the industry which is having a number of finished good suppliers that will produce the finished garments, according to Mango’s specifications and requirements.

We can get a little bit more in depth in this, just to give you a general overview. It is true that Mango buys finished products, in this model. But Mango is also heavily involved in the selection of the materials that go towards making the finished garment, such as the fabrics. In some cases, they go as far as actually buying the fabrics that will then be used by the finished garment suppliers. This is one of the models that Mango adopts which, as I said, is fairly common in the industry.

They also adopt a second model, which is also not unusual, but at the same time, not employed by the majority of large retailers. This is the model where they carry out their own production. Mango has contracts with, typically, smaller-sized factories, both in Asia and also closer to their home, in North Africa. They will buy the fabrics and all necessary accessories, such as zippers, themselves, to create the finished garment. Mango will take care of the shipment of these components to the factory, let’s say, in Morocco, in North Africa, where they will be assembled and then shipped back to Mango’s warehouse in southern Spain.

What proportion of the total volume is split between those two models?

It depends, very much, on the type of product. As an overall view, today, probably about 35% to 40% of Mango’s production comes from the second model, meaning they do it themselves; they have their own factory doing that.

What have been the major changes in fashion retail supply chains, over the last decade or so?

There was a big shift, a few years back, from the Far East production, which is still a fairly large part of a retailer’s production base, but less so than it used to be about 10 or 15 years ago. The shift has now been closer to home as prices, in China especially, have risen. The standard of living in China has been going up, wages have been going up steadily, over the last few years. Therefore, the cost of manufacturing garments has also risen. Retailers have seen fewer and fewer reasons to go for the saving, in terms of cost, by producing in China. They have been going for the slightly more expensive production, closer to home. In the case of Mango, for instance, or Zara, we are talking about the Mediterranean region. Again, a little bit more expensive, compared to China, but at the same time, you are much closer, which gives you some other advantages that, of course, are worth money. For example, reaction times in being able to be closer to the fashion.

Last but not least, one of the other advantages is that if you go and buy, particularly in China, or in Bangladesh in some cases, you will, typically, deal with large factories, which are set up to do a large-run production. Whereas, if you produce closer to home, often, your minimum quantity requirements are lower and that also gives the retailer a little bit more flexibility, when it comes to deciding what is a winning product and being able to make some kind of test for the product, before putting all your money into it.

So it is likely that the retailer would use the Far East, large scale, buying deep, for outerwear or jackets and those items which are always in stock or with stable demand? Then moving closer to home, you have the more fashionable, trendy items of clothing?

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Mango and Sustainable Fashion Sourcing Strategies(December 6, 2019)

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