Apparel manufacturing is the highest number job-creating industry. The economy of most Asian countries like China, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Indonesia is dependent on apparel manufacturing and export. This is one of the oldest industries that has experienced too many ups and downs. Since 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic made a big impact on Fashion and Apparel business. Apparel manufacturing units were either shut for months or ran with lesser than 30% capacity. Lockdown in cities created a steep decline in sales. It sent a high alert to big brands as many big retailers like M&S, H&M had to close 100s of their stores. The fashion business demands strategies to sustain. 10 changes are essential in apparel manufacturing to meet the brand’s expectations.
1. Shorter Leadtime
Leadtime has been one of the biggest concerns for the apparel business as the complex supply chain makes the production lengthier. Brands are looking for fast fashion products to improvise sales. Brands like Zara, H&M, and Louise Vuitton work on business model here high-fashion products are replaced every week. Due to high fluctuation in fashion trend and market demand it is difficult to plan stocks in 6 months advance. Factories need to find a way to fast turn around for orders. Not easy but there are many wasy manufacturing companies can switch to shorter leadtime.
2. Vertical Integration
Factories with vertical setup always had an added advantage. Whether it is cost or leadtime or quality vertical setups always have better outcome. Due to own supply priorities for production is always on top. Moreover, companies with vertically integrated setup can have savings at different stages. Brands prefer to source from vertically integrated factyories in order to get price benefit as well as better service. Many factories in China, Bangladesh, and Vietnam have own production of fabric, trims and packaging. While this isn’t a new concept, vertical integration could be a great change for many companies to serve their customers more efficiently.
The information about the status of orders are crucial for buying merchandisers to plan their inventory and stock. In case of delays without prior information it is difficult to make alternate plan for the store. When we talk about fair trade, employee’s welfare, social compliance, or sustainability; the transparency in process, manpower and order management plays crucial role for brands.
Factories can opt to keep their relevant details live so that buyers can access for right information at right time.
4. Higher Efficiency
Its a great challenge for brands to achieve target sell-through. In order to increase the sell-through price reduction is key. It becomes a bigger challenge for apparel manufacturing companies to improve efficiency where order qty may get reduced in order to in crease sell through. As most of the companies work between 50% to 65% efficiency, companies may need serious analysis for efficiency loss and ways to improve efficiency going forward.
5. Advanced Machinery
Machine can increase productivity and reduce cost. Upgrading machinery to the latest technology is crucial to meet the customer demand. New technology can provide new design and technical features that can differentiate a product from its competitors. On a global sourcing platform apparel manufacturing companies have a big challenge to keep their production up to date to the latest technologies.
6. Product Innovation
Innovations attract customers. It is key for the success of a fashion business as it’s unique feature keeps it apart from it’s competitors. Companies can study to innovate a product at different stages:
- Innovative fabric
- Innovative garment design
- Innovative printing
- Innovative finishing
- Innovative packaging
7. Skill Developments
Garment industry being labour oriented industry human skill plays a vital role. Skill development to manufacture products in trend or making historical art as an USP are ways forward to be leader in business of fashion. Art is foundation of fashion designing and skill development is a vital tool to empower people, to safeguard their future and for the overall development of an individual. It is an important aspect that enhances employability in today’s globalisation.
Manufacturing companies can gain benefits in multiple ways by skill developments of their employees.
Automation can increase the efficiency of production, reduce the number of defects, and reduce the overall cost of manufacturing. Many standard processes like raw material sorting & arrangement, cutting, finishing and packing can use automated technology. The global demand for quality garments, low cost of production, and competitive advantage can be achieved by the adoption of automation.
9. Information Technology
Today, imagination of apparel business without Information Technology is incomplete. Brands and retailers are using Ecommerce, Social media, Omni Channel to improvise the business operations. Latest Information Technologies like AI (Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Virtual and Augmented Reality) provides great experience to customers as well as brands get a big advantages using these technologies. The apparel manufacturing companies can adopt IoT to integrate with production. Using IoT live data can be used to make decisions to resolve problems or improve performances. Artificial Intelligence is self-capable to analyse data and make automated necessary decisions.
- Artificial Intelligence
- Virtual and Augmented Reality
Surviving in business without sustainability is almost impossible. The credit goes to brands for their awareness about environmental issues and government’s policies. Re-organizing processes, material source, waste management, production without pollution are ways forward to implement sustainability in the manufacturing premises.
Hopefully, this article can be helpful to you to understand all 10 changes in apparel manufacturing to adopt. We would love to see your feedback and suggestions in the below commment section.