Over the next few weeks, Lectra will publish a series of blogs discussing how collaboration can unite key elements in the product development process to address the apparel industry’s fundamental challenges of speed, cost and quality.
Blog 1/4: Introduction to Collaboration, by Kate Robinson, Editor at Lectra
Technology and trends may change, but the main goal of apparel companies does not: deliver the right product, at the right time, and at the right price. Large, small, freelance, in-house, Europe, Asia, the Americas: no one is immune to the challenges of aligning creative and technical needs, communicating huge amounts of data accurately, or responding to unpredictable economic circumstances. The consequences for late delivery, compromised design, and poor fit are the same for everyone too.
Build archipelagos from islands
Unfortunately the people involved in apparel development often operate as islands. Disconnected and overburdened, they work to do their best, but without being able to see beyond their own isolated shore, they aren’t given a chance to contribute to their full potential.
But what if companies could build bridges between those islands to forge a strong, reinforced network and create community across development? Well they can. That’s what it means to build collaboration into the heart of fashion development.
To pin down what exactly collaboration means for the fashion industry, we turned to the people who make up the fashion industry. We spoke to over 30 apparel professionals from diverse backgrounds who illustrate the richness of the field—designers, product managers, CAD managers, CEOs, business managers, fit engineers, color technicians, textile designers, marketing directors, and apparel educators—from countries as diverse as the United States, France, Germany, South Africa, Guatemala, and Great Britain.
One word emerged again and again: communication. Communicating information—conceptual as much as technical—accurately to the right people as early in the development process as possible is by and large the most crucial factor for producing the right product, at the right time, and at the right price. And how to communicate this information is deemed as or even more important than what to communicate. And that’s where collaboration comes in.
We are more effective than I
Collaboration is something to achieve. We can think of it as a three-ply thread formed with the strands people, tools, and process—the basic elements of product development. Collaboration unites these essentials and binds them into the fiber of development, which is why it is so useful to addressing the apparel industry’s fundamental challenges of speed, cost, and quality.
Whether it’s a simple change or a total process rethink, the goal of building collaboration is to turn the frustrated, overworked I into a member of the inspired, effective We.
Tune in on September 10th for our next blog (2/4) which will discuss the importance of involving people and managing change when introducing new tools and well-intentioned process change.