5 Ways Apparel Manufacturers Can Challenge the Traditional Fashion System And Stay In Business

Dear apparel manufacturers:

Now is the time to let go of the Henry Ford in-line manufacturing system, a method that has been used by many factories since 1913. The good news is that chaos has bred opportunity. COVID-19 has exposed fundamental weaknesses in the traditional fashion system, like how overproduction, which currently runs at an incredible 30 – 40% each season, is a big problem. If you’re ready to bring your business into the 21st century and challenge the traditional method, now is the perfect time to do so to eliminate financial and environmental waste.

Ripe For An Overhaul 

As challenging as 2020 has been for the fashion industry as a whole, the pandemic has empowered some garment manufacturers to take steps towards being innovators and disruptors. So whether you are a large apparel manufacturer or a small clothing producer, here are six ways you can shift from being an old school producer to a more modern manufacturer of fashion while remaining both relevant and in business. 

Be Both Economical and Sustainable

With waste in the industry is rampant and expensive, on-demand and more sustainable manufacturing could be the solution. The manufacturing tech solution allows for more cost-effective and environmentally friendly production. There is no inventory, no fabric waste, and no warehousing. Easily described as a logical solution, on-demand production allows fashion brands to reduce their upfront cash need and minimize excess inventory. Lectra, a Paris-based company that develops premium solutions that give fashion companies the means to embark on Industry 4.0, believes that in an era of fast-changing consumer tastes, businesses need to adapt your production processes to meet individual demands quickly.

Evolve from Mass Production to Mass Customization

Although today’s consumers have an increased awareness of the problems that come with mass production of clothing, apparel manufacturers still feel the pressure to have a diverse product mix. Well, the solution could be instead of mass-producing the same product in large production batches, adopt mass customization and alternatively produce small quantities of different products. 

It is a solution that has been accelerated by fashion tech companies like Unmade as a better alternative because it is a technique that blends flexibility and personalization of custom-made products with the low unit costs associated with mass production. 

Change With Times By Being Open To Constant Adaptation

Full package production apparel manufacturers in the business of making clothes have had to adapt to the shifts in fashion and consumer demands. Clothing manufacturers who are likely to remain in the fashion business are usually the ones prepared to learn about new advancements, for example, in fabric development. According to Innovation in Competitive Manufacturing, a book by Paul M. Swamidass, a constant adaptation of internal practices and external relationships could open you up to meeting new opportunities. 


Make Improving Working Conditions Your Priority

The regulation and scrutiny of the garment industry working conditions is something that has risen to the top of the list of concerns when it comes to the responsibility that the fashion industry has. It has meant that clothing manufacturers have had to come up with strategies that not address the issues but also improve the working conditions in their supply chains. 

For those struggling to make it happen, sustainyourstyle.org recommends the following five ways you can improve working conditions. Collaborate with the competition and explore new forms of supplier auditing. Also, measure work environment performance, build local capacity, and increase supply chain transparency.


Invest In Software That Helps Reduce Waste 

Technology is making it easier for apparel manufacturers to reduce textile waste, like cut-offs, generated during the production of garments. By making an effort to use software like Reverse Resources, clothing manufacturers can lower cut off waste, which can be as much as 40% or more in some cases.

The advantage of investing in software like Reverse Resources is that you will be able to measure the number of production offcuts, map them by type, and share relevant data with buyers. It is an approach that Reverse Resources believes could result in 20% of offcuts being used. For the material that is damaged, Reverse Resources’ software also provides information of use to recyclers, to help them pursue higher-value types of recycling solutions.

Put The Consumer First

For what seems like a long time since it happened, consumers are squarely in the spotlight. This means that as a clothing manufacturer, you need to be aware that the majority of them have a growing interest in what they buy and wear. The birth of the conscious consumer has meant that most fashion manufacturers have been forced to hit the reset button because the old system is considered to be no longer sustainable. If clothing manufacturers want to cater to their customer’s needs, they will need to implement changes that evade excess production but instead focus on sustainability. There is now very little tolerance for waste-producing business models that do not put purpose-driven sustainable action at the forefront.

Learn how the GRID can digitize your factory to stay relevant in the digital age

Written by Muchaneta Kapfunde


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