McKinsey Apparel, Fashion & Luxury Group: Is Apparel Manufacturing Coming Home?

Tomorrow’s successful apparel companies will be those that take the lead to enhance the apparel value chain on two fronts: nearshoring and automation. It cannot be just one of them and it must be done sustainably. Apparel companies can no longer conduct business as usual and expect to thrive. Due to the Internet and stagnation in key markets, competition is fiercer than ever and consumer demand is more difficult to predict. Mass-market apparel brands and retailers are competing with pure-play online start-ups, the most successful of which can replicate trendy styles and get them to customers within weeks. Furthermore, apparel companies have lost much of their clout in trendsetting. In most mass-market categories, today’s hottest trends are determined by individual influencers and consumers rather than by the marketing departments of fashion companies. Pressure on profitability due to decreasing full-price sell-through as well as increasing concerns regarding the environmental impact of overproduction call for agile production in smaller batch sizes and for on-demand replenishment.

Currently the most labor-intensive step in creating a garment, sewing accounts for more than half the total labor time per garment. The potential for labor reduction is highly dependent on product type and design – as much as up to 90 percent of the sewing of simple garments can be automated. While there are a variety of different semi-automation solutions, SoftWear Automation is currently on the forefront of fully automated sewing and many others are making investments.

Read the full report here and learn why McKinsey & Company named SoftWear Automation’s SEWBOT® one of the promising automation technologies of the future.