EUROPEAN T-SHIRT WORKLINE & PCP PROGRAM — WHY & WHAT
Today we are announcing the expansion of our mission of local production to Europe through collaboration and partnership with European manufacturers, brands and retailers. This joint collaboration will be a vital step in creating local supply chains — and creates new capabilities, from cut fabric to finished goods. You can contact us directly here.
So let’s talk about why this expansion is so important…
Raj, my CEO, told Forbes, “The fundamental problem in the fashion retail industry today is the wrong product at the wrong time and an oversupply of it.” If true and we have seen significant proof, how do we escape the loop?
Last week while I was on a 2 week business trip to Japan and Hong Kong, I stopped in a major retailer to buy some pants. I am not much of a check luggage guy and hotel laundry is too inflexible for my travel requirements. So I donated my old pants and headed to the store to gather one more additional customer perspective. What I saw were full racks with product 8-10 sizes deep. It was dense, which in many ways I appreciated. It made me feel like they would have my size. I tried on 10 items (some were shirts). Of those 10, the one pair of pants that I was specifically looking for didn’t have my size.
It re-enforced 2 concepts: First, we can’t forecast every customer, weather event or trend. Localized manufacturing has to enter our strategic capability because well-planned forecasting is just historical guessing. If the large size is out, we need a way to address that out of stock other than forecasting 6 months out.
Second, we are never coming back to this moment in time. What we have now is the slowest, the least predictable and most inefficient this business will ever be. People won’t suddenly want slow apparel (as a feature) because there’s not a customer benefit. No-one is asking for mail or the internet to slow down. Even micro brands are becoming fast. The story is not about speed for speed sake, but speed because it quenches customer thirst for instant gratification. Sure quality is important, but all else equal or close, speed wins. Amazon & Alibaba have established a routine for instant that is here to stay and it’s showing in Gen Z across all experiences.
Today, unfortunately, I can offer you 10 ways to better optimize your asian factory, but only one to meet future customer expectations. The ability to localize production or fabricate goods on site will be the only way to solve future customer expectations. This goes for any supply chain (fashion or not). It may also be the tool to resurrect “the death of clothing“ (bloomberg).
“… one of the reasons is the consumer has really sped up,” Spencer Fung, chief executive officer of apparel supplier Li & Fung, said in an interview. “And it’s now so noticeable that if you don’t speed up, you’re dead.” Read more of Spencer’s article.
There is a fundamental business model change coming and it creates immense opportunity. However it also creates risk and the teams that succeed will find ways to offset risk while they move forward securing their future. We think we have some ideas on reducing risk in this journey and we look forward to sharing those with you in the future.
Further details on the European Premier Customer Partnership program can be discussed through this link.
To download your Digital T-shirt Workline tech pack, start here.
Pete Santora, Chief Commercial Officer