Kirby Best and the team at Onpoint Manufacturing based in Florence, Alabama, USA, specialise in customised design and sewn production for the Apparel Industry and they are charting a new future for the Fashion Industry.
The future of fashion is in flux. The Fashion industry is no longer fashionable, challenged by its environmental impact and its economic unsustainability a complete reset is required. In order for the industry to excel and remain viable, profitable and sustainable, the apparel industry requires a flexible, agile and transparent supply chain, alongside a redesigned footprint - that includes both ecommerce and the physical store - in short: a complete reset. Kirby Best and the team at Onpoint Manufacturing based in Florence, Alabama, USA, specialise in customised design and sewn production for the Apparel Industry and they are charting a new future for the Fashion Industry.
With a smart factory manufacturing on-demand they offer a new vision of the future. Customised garment production at any scale from their high tech - Smart factory. But that’s not all, Kirby has exciting plans for the Apparel industry and is busy setting up a worldwide network for on demand fulfilment as CEO of PAAT (Purchase Activated Apparel Technology), partnering with software, technology companies and manufacturing hubs across the globe - it’s an exciting project and one that offers the fashion industry incredible diversity.
Caption: Together with Onpoint Manufacturing - PAAT are redefining the manufacture of fashion, the first partner resource Eloise.fashion is now live and offers the first step to an alternative manufacturing route and perhaps an end to the over production of the last two decades of fast fashion. Credit: Onpoint Manufacturing.
In our recent podcast interview, we discussed the future of fashion production, the benefits of a digitised workflow and the close proximity supply chain with Kirby Best, founder and CEO.
<< Listen to the full podcast >>
Here’s a summary of the key takeaways from our conversation:
Based in Florence, Alabama - Onpoint Manufacturing is a garment manufacturing business, supplying the worlds fashion industry with customised Apparel. Kirby Best the founder however wasn’t always in the fashion industry, in a previous life having built a wealth of experience working within a successful book publishing business and in doing so has a deep appreciation of the benefits of automation. The Publishing industry faced historic disruption in the late 90’s, Kirby was working in the industry at this time, and saw first-hand how digital technologies and workflow automation can rationalise production. With a passion for a challenge, he founded Onpoint Manufacturing and has successfully implemented emerging technologies to radically reform the garment manufacturing process. He believes in simplicity and has orchestrated an impressive production facility. Ahead of his time, these innovations now stand Onpoint in good stead and the company are challenging the conventional Apparel business model.
Caption: In-line and incredibly fast – Garments are designed, cut and sewn using automated process wherever possible, the workflow is digital, and data moves seamlessly between actions to enable incredibly fast production. Credit: Onpoint Manufacturing.
Orders are currently dispatched in 2-3 days, but Kirby wants to achieve an order to dispatch time of just 12 hours in the near future.
Clients span the globe and there is no such thing as a minimum order, this is on-demand manufacturing at any scale, and where inventory is kept to a minimum. The business is built on high quality garments, manufactured sustainably at speed and delivered with exceptional customer service.
Working with emerging designers alongside some of the world’s largest brands Onpoint use CAD/CAM to generate design files and digital tech packs wherever possible. Iterations are then duplicated or amended at speed for clients worldwide. Currently Onpoint don’t print but this service is on the horizon and Kirby again wants to simplify the process as much as possible. The company do not want to become textile printers, the print is to be one part of the process, and as such much bolt seamlessly into the production workflow. They have invested in the Kornit Digital Presto digital textile printing machine and are currently ironing out the workflow, aiming to bring onstream early next year. Digital Textile printing will be inline with production, where cutting is then also digitally operated with minimum human intervention.
Kirby is excited to offer printed fabrics and sees the endless creative possibilities and business opportunities that will build from this investment. Customisation is now an inherent expectation for the consumer and the fashion buyer who now demands product diversity and manufacturing agility. Without digital production neither would be possible at speed. Onpoint manufacturing are by definition a smart factory, where products are produced using digital technologies at any order volume.
Building on their success Kirby has a bigger vision and is currently working on an impressive project that will bring customised production to a global audience in the development of smart hub manufacturing sites across the globe. As the industry flexes to meet the requirement for sustainable production – close proximity manufacturing provides a solution. That’s not as easy as it sounds, to design, create and manufacture a garment uses multiple technologies and skill sets - sourcing partners takes time, and due diligence alongside a wealth of experience. Other barriers to designers and new entrants are the costs associated with design and production software and manufacturing machinery and the immense learning curve that goes alongside both. Kirby’s vision is to build a partner network – a platform that facilitates close proximity production alongside and in support of the independent designer and the brand or retailer.
Eloise.Fashion is the first pilot of the new business model – All the software required to design the garments and create production ready apparel files is in principle licensed by the designer/client, on a scalable subscription basis following a SAAS business model. When the item is ordered the production natively shifts to the closest manufacturing hub to be manufactured and fulfilled by 3rd party distribution. It’s an ambitious project but one that makes perfect sense. Gerber Technology will be providing access to their digital technology for product development and production, starting with the widely used AccuMark software suite for pattern development, 2D/3D simulation and marker optimization. "COVID-19 has only accelerated the trends towards e-Commerce and the need for a digitally-connected, agile apparel supply chain," said Karsten Newbury, Chief Strategy and Digital Officer of Gerber Technology. "Together with PAAT, we are now making it possible for all designers, small and large, to quickly and efficiently design, develop and then produce products on demand, with MOQs as low as one." Gerber Technology and PAAT have been collaborating for several years on the Micro factory concept. With Eloise.Fashion, they are now adding digital development to this workflow, which will allow designers around the world to tap into digital product creation and production.
In addition to Gerber and OnPoint, three other prestigious firms leading technology companies are onboard as partners in support of the new platform as it begins to evolve, marking a first for the industry and an exciting chapter for the future of fashion production regardless of scale.
Fabric.com, Nimbly and Spoonflower have signed on to the Eloise.Fashion platform. As part of Fabric.com's offering, once a designer chooses fabric it will be drop-shipped directly to OnPoint so that fabric is ready as soon as the designer makes a sale. Nimbly will connect designers with on-demand knitting services, and Spoonflower works with designers worldwide on custom textile printing projects. More partners will be onboarded onto Eloise.Fashion, giving users unprecedented access to some of the industry's best software services and production options.
An Eloise.Fashion Advisory Board has been established and features three industry veterans including Áslaug Magnúsdóttir, entrepreneur, investor and the CEO and Founder of Katla, a direct-to-consumer sustainable fashion brand. Dubbed "the fairy godmother of fashion" by Vogue, Magnúsdóttir was also the Co-Founder of luxury e-commerce site Moda Operandi, among many other ventures. Also on the Advisory Board are Michael Ferraro, Executive Director of the FIT/Infor Design and Technology Lab (DTech) at the Fashion Institute of Technology; and fashion design entrepreneur Sherri Barry, who is the Founder and President of Arizona Fashion Source and Co-Founder of Arizona Apparel Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit which supports emerging designers.
Caption: "We are developing a system that will democratize fashion," said J. Kirby Best, CEO of PAAT (Purchase Activated Apparel Technology) and Eloise.Fashion. "We're giving designers and brands all of the tools that they need to take their designs from "creator to consumer" within one platform without risking large amounts of money up front. We've been able to interconnect software systems and apps that were previously disparate systems and out of reach economically for many emerging designers." Credit: Onpoint Manufacturing.
"We want to put control back in the designer's and brand's hands.
We've been taking note of all the factors that we've been hearing over the years at OnPoint that end up being a barrier to entry for many designers, particularly emerging designers. Eloise.Fashion offers them a more economical and sustainable way to get their collections to market," said Best. "It's also a cost-effective way for an established brand to test a new concept or produce a capsule collection."
by Debbie McKeegan