How do you transform your Fashion supply chain? It’s a difficult task for Retailers large and small but as we move into a decade of sustainable, efficient manufacturing, the challenge of change, is being embraced across the globe.
So, as a Fashion Retailer or Supplier, where do you start? EFI-Optitex offered a window into the future, and an opportunity to define the parameters that apply to your unique business model with an engaging open day, held in Leicester by bringing together the UK’s Fashion Industry. Speakers at the event included: Marks and Spencers, Shop Direct, Fashion Enter, Alvanon, and the Leicester Growth Hub. The audience: Fashion Brands and Designers, Specifiers, Technicians, Buyers, Product Managers, Merchandisers and Technologists.
Caption: How do you transform your Fashion supply chain? It’s a difficult task for Retailers large and small but change is critical. Image Credit :EFI-Optitex
Whilst Brands adopt sustainable sourcing, alongside tooling up for the expected growth in ecommerce they also have to remain viable, in a challenging market, by increasing and even just maintaining profits. Manufacturers have to adopt new technologies for a number of reasons.
The fashion landscape is in flux, its consumers demand design diversity, and fulfilling this requirement requires agile, lean, efficient manufacturing. The buying cycles of the past no longer make sense, and for businesses built on these foundations change is a complicated process.
For many a solution is to switch a small percentage of production back into Europe, leaving the bulk buying often in the Far East. With local manufacture, garments can be sourced at speed, and designed to fit the requirements of the brands AI sales information. Buying locally allows the supplier to manufacture in a customized format, with production driven by head office and their sales intel on a short timescale, often 10-14 days. It also allows flexible fulfillment, the re-stocking of existing ranges, just-in-time manufacturing, and economies on shipping when fine-tuned to merchandising and sales predictions.
Caption: As time progresses the change to digital twins, and CAD selections, will undoubtably become best practice, and will become broadly adopted. Image Credit :EFI-Optitex
All of which puts pressure on a system that for the majority of fashion brands and manufacturers is not currently highly automated, or even connected by software. Transparency and collaboration with suppliers are key to success. Automated sales and production fulfilment have to become embedded into the global supply chain for the industry to become more sustainable.
With complex global supply chains, and set distribution channels burdened with antiquated, conventional in-house practices and systems, all of which have variable levels of technology, the challenges ahead are great, and cannot be underestimated.
The Industry is not resisting change. The first step is to become familiar with the technologies available and how they can be adopted into a complex supply chain and opportunities such as the EFI-Open day are critical forums for the transfer of knowledge and Industry insight. For many the journey must begin by looking at how products are designed. EFI-Optitex and their 3D Tools offer a solution that improves sampling and production to offer agile, lean and efficient manufacturing.
Listening to the speakers at the event, its blatantly apparent that every business is unique. Marks and Spencers by example, have for some time used CAD | CAM as an aid to develop new sample garments. Toiles (sample garments) are designed in CAD, fabrics are then Digitally Printed and the garments sewn in-house for selection by the buying team. It’s also important to note how many samples are required, and the energy that’s involved in their creation. Each garment requires three duplicates, imagine the numbers of unused samples produced worldwide?
CAD | CAM offers a viable, sustainable option for Pre-production sampling, the key here is that the software accurately visualizes the product created. Design, Colour, Shape, Drape, Flexibility, and Cut must be a digital twin of the final garment. EFI-Optitex’s software does deliver this, however, unfortunately for Marks and Spencers, the buyers within the business often still require physical samples for the majority of garments and the software is used for creative not production purposes.
As time progresses the change to digital twins, and CAD selections, will undoubtably become best practice, and will become broadly adopted. The technology is also vital for costing purposes and can if actioned deliver an accurate breakdown of all components for the buyer using cloud technologies for global production, and an end to Tech-Sheets which are still commonplace in the Fashion workflow. The same can be said for product created utilizing EFI’s PLM nesting and grading software for global production specification and real-time fulfillment.
Caption: The cycle of product creation can be a purely digital journey! Offering a sustainable, viable solution to the numerous issues facing the Fashion Industry. Image Credit :EFI-Optitex
Digital printing technologies are a vital component for customized manufacturing. Recent developments enabling print placement into nested print runs also offers huge savings for fabric, ink and production time. Stock of printed fabrics places a huge financial burden onto the manufacturer, and in a fast paced, speed of sales Retail environment, print must be driven by accurate stock forecasting in conjunction with customized sewn manufacture.
The cycle of product creation can be a purely digital journey! Offering a sustainable, viable solution to the numerous issues facing the Fashion Industry. Equipping your business for agile fashion production and the supply chains of the future is therefore critical.
by Debbie McKeegan