Forbes: SoftWear Automation Has A Cure For What Ails Fashion Retail
Fast-fashion business models, vertical integration, robust inventory management systems and other supply-chain strategies are offered as a solution to what ails the fashion retail industry today. The industry’s challenges are summarized by Alper Sen in International Journal of Production Economics, “The fashion industry has short product life cycles, tremendous product variety, volatile and unpredictable demand, and long and inflexible supply processes.”
Consumers demand made-to-measure, custom-made clothing fast
SoftWear’s vision extends much further. “Imagine if you had every style designed in the last 50 years online and people can buy whatever they want and get it home in 2-3 days? On-demand, made-to-measure clothing is the ‘North Star,’ and Sewbot is the anchor,” Rajan says.
China-based Tianyuan Garments Company has bought into the vision. It is building a factory in Little Rock, Arkansas where it will produce t-shirts for Adidas. Slated to open this year, it will be equipped with Sewbots capable of manufacturing 1.2m t-shirts a year at virtually the same cost as offshore production, but with significantly reduced transportation time and expense.
“A nimble and local supply chain is the cure for the ills that plague the retail fashion business,” he believes. As the technology is developed over the next 10 years, Rajan foresees fashion brands will have the potential for unlimited sell through of every style though its digital manufacturing platform.
As a result, consumers will be able to buy custom-made fashions directly through ecommerce retailers or in a combination of “retail ecommerce” where the store is a showroom where customers come to touch, feel and try on styles, customize their look, push a button and it is delivered to their home in 48 hours. “It will crush the retail supply chain. You can have zero inventory and a batch size of 1. You can’t do that overseas. We enable seamless commerce from manufacturing to retail,” he explains.
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