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Writing our Future Together, Seamlessly

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In their latest piece for WhichPLM, C-DESIGN share their thoughts on the future of our industry, and why a collaborative future is paramount. Established in 1998, C-DESIGN is a creative and innovative software house, specialising in developing, marketing and supporting creative solutions to the textile industry.

It’s becoming more and more apparent that the future of the fashion value-chain will never return to the way it was pre-COVID-19. It’s clear to the majority of us that we have entered unparalleled times, and we can, sadly, only expect further challenges across our entire digital eco-system in the months that lie ahead. Consumers have quickly changed tack and are becoming less attracted to cheap, fast-fashion, and are instead turning toward longer lasting, sustainable, quality products. Research shows that over the last six months order quantities have been substantially smaller. And are also becoming more complex in a variety of ways: expanded size ranges, colours, materials, testing & auditing, tracking and tracing, and extra focus on fair labour rates. All of which requires a new level of agility never before seen.

In just six months the world has changed and we’ve learned many positive lessons on how we can improve collaboration. It was only months ago that most of us communicated via conference call with our cameras switched off, and today it’s become the norm for people to communicate face-to-face via video calls. It’s amazing just how fast things can change for the better. It wasn’t that long ago when people wouldn’t even consider the use of 3D samples, and at the very least would insist on physical prototypes. And now 3D has become part of our every day – not only for samples, but also for product to be sold on e-commerce sites without a physical product ever being made; only when demand can be seen will the retailer or brand push the orders digitally upstream into the value-chain. It truly is amazing what we can achieve when we work together to solve problems.

Moving upstream manufacturers are feeling the negative results of the COVID-19 pandemic. In March & April demand gradually came to a complete standstill for fast-fashion and non-essentials, yet for PPE demand went through the roof. Supply chain partners had to become extremely agile practically overnight, responding to the new challenge of moving from creating fashion to PPE products, and to survive they also had to collaborate in real-time.

There is no going back; the fashion sector will never be the same and this experience is proof that digital end-to-end collaboration will enable the sector to design new collaborative processes that are now answering the on-demand, customer-conscious digital value-chain. Not only are these new methods answering many of the challenges brought by COVID-19, but they are also delivering a smarter way of doing business. The positives are plentiful – the likes of lower cost, greater visibility, sustainability, fairness for all partners linked to shared risk and positive reputation for brands and retailers.

In a time when everything looks bleak, it’s important to focus on how we can adapt, how we improve, and how we write our own future. We can already see so many positive steps being taken in the name of digital collaboration, which can only help the fashion sector to improve its tarnished reputation with it’s conscious consumers and it’s value-chain partners.

Entering the Era of Universal Collaboration

As a PLM vendor we have reacted to recent challenges and have spent the last six months working on new methods of collaboration. We have now developed an external user-facing solution that has been designed to allow third party suppliers (mills, trims, components, packaging, manufacturers, dyehouses, etc.) to operate together seamlessly. This new, light version of our PLM solution will enable all parties to jointly work on core processes and sub-processes, right down to table & field level usages and security that will add value to the design development, costing, sourcing, manufacturing and logistics processing.

The new collaborative lite-user license will include many of the core ‘must-have functionalities’ of C-DESIGN PLM but, at the same time, has been designed to lessen the non-added value tasks linked to role base scenarios, and will even incorporate non-company employees that offer freelance services to the value-chain.

The new collaboration module will enable businesses to quickly sort and select vendors that meet their product requirements and KPIs. Once sorted a retailer or brand will assign one or more suppliers – this could include freelancers of design, patterns, auditors etc. – that work with their organisation adding value to the end-to-end process. The company will select a group of users by role type. Each user will be automatically notified of new requests, tasks and critical paths, and each with their own security rights (view only, read & write, input, attach, print, share and so on). If a brand wants a freelance designer to have access to colours and trims but no pricing, for example, that’s exactly what they will have. The module also enables bi-directional sharing with multiple levels of encrypted security, managed by the owning company administration teams, linked to secure user logins and password.

These new external lite-PLM collaboration licenses will enable all C-DESIGN remote users to work together with multiple non-related retailers and brands. license will automatically detect the sender’s (retailer/brand) request and will allow the company/user (manufacturer) to see and act upon the request, all with a different user interface or process experience. Each layout is customised for a specific role, making collaboration that much easier.

We’ve reached a time where real-time, love collaboration is critical to our industry. Responding to the new needs of the fashion sector, C-DESIGN is helping to shape the new reality of doing business in a data-driven world, and at affordable pricing to help support everyone involved in the value-chain.

To learn more about C-DESIGN, visit their website.

Lydia Mageean Lydia Mageean has been part of the WhichPLM team for over six years now. She has a creative and media background, and is responsible for maintaining and updating our website content, liaising with advertisers, working on special projects like the Annual Review, and more.Joining mid-2013 as our Online Editor, she has since become WhichPLM’s Editor. In addition to taking on writing and interviewing responsibilities, Lydia has also become the primary point of contact for news, events, features and other aspects of our ever-growing online content library and tools.