Denise Silveira is the owner of Point.Clothing, a manufacturer of business casual clothing for women at moderate to better price points. Her career began in fashion, she then transitioned into a career in online training for corporate clients. After 14 years of online training and finding it difficult to patch together the elusive business casual wardrobe, she came full circle to meet the styling and fashionable needs of professional women in the workforce.
I went to SPESA to learn as much as I could about garment manufacturing tools and technology, and to meet other F-Iers. It was a great to meet everyone and I learned lots.
I attended several seminars. The biggest take away for me was how to manage your business through effective communication and process which is facilitated by an effective business model, tools and data management. This certainly isn’t anything revolutionary—these are the things all organizations reckon with.
Large garment manufacturing companies face big challenges; they must manage communication and processes to produce millions of items across the globe. Currently, 71% of all apparel is manufactured in Asia and 11% is manufactured in the Americas. The Americas consume 24% of apparel, Asia 27% and Europe 42% (Source: Mary O’Rourke of Jassin-O’Rourke Group LLC). Large garment manufacturers’ growth is, in part, due to mergers and acquisitions. For example, VF Corporation (formerly Vanity Fair) owns 40-45 brands, manufactures 400 million units per year with 750,000 SKUs, and works with 1377 factories globally. Meanwhile, retail clothing prices haven’t moved in 7 years (Source: Mark D’Sa, GAP), in addition to other challenges, such as the economic slowdown, credit crisis and increase in raw materials (Source: Keith Burchett, JCPenney).
Manufacturers large and small are positioning themselves to be as efficient as they can by tooling up or already employing fast fashion, make to order (MTO) and lean manufacturing practices. JC Penney is gearing up for 120, 90 and 55 day turnaround times. Gap and Chico’s/FAS work closely with factories that do the sourcing in addition to production. Enrique Perez, Operations Manager of Teamwork Athletic, a lean garment manufacturer, insists that the plant must be a visual workplace, where you can understand what’s going on in five minutes. At Teamwork Athletic, plant design changes are based the input of all roles and take place in one week (regardless of the hours needed to implement).
These fast fashion, make to order (MTO) and lean manufacturing practices are accomplished in part by:
- Using technology for project and data management, such as PLM software
- Working with factories that provide additional services beyond production, or outsourcing work (such as tech pack development)
- Having effective, well-documented processes, clear product development standards and clear communication
Honestly, the idea of managing 750,000 SKUs doesn’t exactly thrill me, but these events were good for starting to think about how to position your company for growth. More importantly, it really made me think about the vendors and suppliers you want to work with and how they support your business vision and model. Do you stay local and domestic? How much do you outsource? And so on.
SPESA EXPO 2010 Educational Events