In the second in a series of guest blogs, Lectra continues to discuss how the emergence of hybrid business models is changing the landscape of fashion. Here, the company follows up on last week’s instalment to take a closer look at the need for a design to cost approach.
Part 2: The emergence of a hybrid business model: the need for a design to cost approach
We’ve seen how world economic upheavals and changing consumer preferences incited a shift in the way fashion and apparel companies do business. Companies have to deliver more collections under shorter lead times and more intense cost conditions, while offering appealing products and constant newness. The need to balance these sometimes contradictory obligations gave rise to the hybrid business model.
At the same time, materials represent a significant percentage of the cost of a garment. Style, fabric design, pattern geometry, means of production and production quantity all have an impact on fabric consumption and therefore final cost. By managing material usage–-which accounts for 40 and 80 percent of cost—well, companies may protect and increase their margins.
From design to design to cost
During the conceptualization phase, a period in which many ideas are proposed, challenged and reworked, material consumption is often only very roughly estimated. The more companies are able to take manufacturing constraints into account during collection conceptualization and development, the more successfully they will optimize cost, guarantee product quality and reduce lead times.
Accurate fabric consumption estimates and pre-production planning, coupled early on with design and technical knowledge, can help companies achieve optimum material use. This in turn will help them to respect budgets and achieve business objectives.
A design to cost approach helps anticipate fabric consumption and production costs as early as possible in the conceptualization phase. By incorporating manufacturing constraints during product development, before production is launched and material investments made, this approach enables companies to reduce and control the total cost of collection development and production. It also puts them in a better position to negotiate with suppliers all along the collection development process.
Because it tightly integrates core product designs and development technologies and allows for a more fluid exchange of visual and technical information, a design to cost approach opens the door to faster and more accurate evaluation of possible production scenarios. For example, it enables the creation of best to worst case cost scenarios by using fabric background images and automatic processing. It also makes it possible to analyze more options than would be possible by manually calculating for these variables. Finally, it makes visible the direct impact choices have on fabric consumption for more informed decision making.
Design to Cost is especially useful for companies that work with engineered prints and complex or intricate fabrics. They are able to import sketches, graphics or scanned fabrics from the design department to evaluate production scenarios before fabric is cut, printed or even ordered. If changes need to be made in design to reduce costs at the production end, visual capacities integrated in a PLM make it easier to communicate across departments quickly and accurately to keep developments moving forward.
With Lectra Fashion PLM, linking design and pattern information with easily updated, automatic markers contributes to more consistent communication between design, product managers, pattern making and marker making, which helps ensure the creation of accurate production prototypes that preserve the designer’s original intent. Prototypes can be created under realistic production conditions to ensure a more accurate sample for approving silhouette, proportion, fabric design and fit, and controlling quality and value for money.
A Design to Cost approach enables companies to have very precise material estimations. They can also send visual layouts to make communication easier and reduce misunderstandings.
In addition, automatic marker making coupled with fabric visualization also enables more precise communication with suppliers, which gives decision makers more leverage and leaves less to interpretation.
With a holistic Design to Cost approach supported by Lectra Fashion PLM, companies now have the capacity to take production constraints into account early on in design and make sure they make the right decision on time.