The following is a synthesis of information which has been taken from a longer eBook, produced by Lectra.
The fashion and apparel industry is changing at an accelerated pace, faster than anything seen in the past. There are many factors that explain the recent shifts in the industry. With competition raging fierce and increasingly demanding consumers expecting rapid service, fashion and apparel companies need to adapt their way of working; an organization-wide change in process is crucial to remaining competitive.
In order to manage the complexity that increased seasons and multi-channel distribution imply, fashion companies have started looking for ways to improve their ways of working. Manufacturers in countries like Brazil and China have been some of the most ardent adopters of basic pattern making, grading, marker making and garment cutting technologies, as well as the industrialization of simple tasks. Automating previously manual processes certainly has its advantages, but basic technology is just not enough to compete in today’s market. Change and agility need to accompany new technology.
In an increasingly saturated market, geographic expansion and internationalization have forced companies to diversify their product offer, developing several product lines and sizes at the same time. This has made maintaining fit, quality and consistency even more challenging. With fast fashion, social media and mobile technologies booming, consumers have become all-powerful, demanding greater diversity, better quality and more and more new product, both online and in traditional stores.
The connected consumer is driving fashion to a point where many companies are struggling to keep up. They are unable to adapt to the faster collection cycles that some say are making the old notions of a “season” a moot point. And the phenomenon is not restricted to the United States and Europe; developing countries, Brazil and China in particular, are also undergoing major change.
To respond to sophisticated consumer demands and make sure their collections reach stores on time, companies have to speed up their collection lifecycle. This means the traditional working methods of the past are simply no longer adequate. Design, development and sourcing teams have all been impacted and are often under pressure to do more with less. It’s the companies that recognize the need to reexamine their tools and reinvent inefficient ways of working that will successfully navigate the complexity of the today’s new consumer landscape.
Given all this, fashion and apparel companies must find ways to adapt their way of working in order to keep up with an ever-changing consumer and expanding markets. Change is the buzzword and those companies that manage to make it a part of their daily operations have a better chance of succeeding. But change is difficult and exhausting.