What the customer wants, the customer gets.
A fashion brand’s capacity and expertise to identify the garment or accessory the client wants, or even to predict what they will desire so as to design it, produce it and ship it to the stores in “record time” has created a system that governs much of the fashion industry today and whose success at this point is beyond question, at least to a large majority of professionals in the sector.
A system everyone wants to replicate.
This perfect process of feedback –from world stores to the central hub—with information regarding the creation, manufacturing, distribution and sale in the shortest time possible is what most large distribution and retail textile companies have analyzed and currently look to incorporate into their organizations. Therefore, among these global players, there is a hypothetical or true creator of the system, a few others who have managed to replicate it in their organizations with some success, and the rest who continue trying hard day after day.
Fast fashion has changed the essence of today’s textile industry and it has encouraged the brands that created or successfully incorporated fast fashion to transform into the largest world retailers.
The current goal of the rest of the companies is to understand and to convey to the organization the ability to respond quickly to consumer demands in order to create the same process and to obtain the excellent results achieved by pioneering brands.
However, what are the differences between one company and the others? Why are some brands unable to successfully replicate the same system?
Clearly, we will not disclose it fully in this space; we do not intend to do that. In this article and the next, we will simply highlight some differences we have found relevant and that may be enlightening in regard to the situation that has arisen in the world textile sector.
Logistics, a core focus.
If we begin at the end to focus then on the central areas of the system, it can be said that these brands have developed a centralized distribution system whereby, once manufactured, garments arrive at each of the stores that ordered them. Using another system, or rather, through the traditional system, items are sent to the distribution hub and then delivered to the stores. In a way, this increases the likelihood of an unsold article to be kept as a “hostage in an inappropriate destination”. Warehouses of logistics hubs are increasingly being used less and in the near future, they will only be used to store items sold online.
Centrality and speed in the decision-making process.
As we all know, a fundamental aspect of vital importance to respond very quickly to the wishes and demands of consumers is for information from hundreds of stores around the world to arrive at a central office where the process is carried out immediately and relentlessly. All decisions in terms of creation, design, manufacturing and distribution are centralized in one single spot, even in the same building. This means the decision-making players –designers, patternmakers, buyers, sales reps and technicians—can perform this task together, immediately and seamlessly.
This is the essence of the process. If it is part of the company’s DNA, she will likely be among the fastest organizations in the world in terms of thinking, creating and putting up for sale a design at their stores around the world.
Many of the competitors who are desperately trying to imitate the system focus particularly and mistakenly on production times. They push their own staff and providers to cut down production times beyond its limits and they do not pay attention to optimizing their internal processes.
What is the use of agreeing with the supplier to cut down by five days the production of a particular item if the factory will not receive the proforma invoice signed on time? What is the point of having a design handy with the latest trend –a clear sales success—if when it comes to the final decision, the buyer decides not to purchase it because “their budget is already closed”? What competitive advantage can be obtained from designs that have been produced in record time from their inception to their international delivery but then they are kept at the brand’s distribution hub for more than 96 hours? What image is conveyed by a company who strives to produce fast fashion and the very process of registration of a new supplier can take more than three weeks of tangled red tape?
I leave you to consider these questions and we will meet again in the next article on my blog, where we will analyze other questions that inevitably appear when it comes to implementing a system of fast fashion in a company within the sector; questions that many times are difficult to answer.