Speed to Market – Fast Turn – Rapid Response
What do these terms mean to the apparel industry in 2009? Good news and bad news! New times = New methods of doing business = Rapid response to the demands of the retailer and consumer. But, can the average apparel manufacturer respond rapidly? Well, for the small company who, due to their smaller orders are for the most part producing domestically it is good news. They can turn on a dime and produce faster than the larger companies who need a much longer lead time to produce their goods, usually in far off places. Smaller companies with small orders ship them to the retailer, then if the orders sell through they get reorders. This is the very best of new business news for new and smaller manufacturers. It is also good news for the retailer as they can plan for the demands of their customers, the weather, and the economy etc.
This new type of selling and buying results in the manufacturer having a much better cash flow, as they will not be seeking funding for larger orders when selling through the traditional five seasons each year. This tradition of selling at the four or five markets each year usually requires groups within each line that demands cash outlay for the expenses for patternmaking and sampling. Now, the manufacturer is constantly designing, which they really always have and then showing new products, and shipping weekly or monthly new merchandise. So now the manufacturer can get paid more often. They do not need to invest heavily in the five big lines a year as they are now producing and shipping new items to replenish sell through products. The retailer will also have less of a cash flow problem with this type of merchandise planning. The customer will see new items when ever they shop. A win win in a new economy! Well, we hope so. So, it has at last been officially noted by many international economist that the small business owners are really the backbone of our economy, not only in the US but globally. The big branded companies are not fairing well and many have had to cut back or worse, close their doors. Small businesses can adjust and respond as they don’t have large overheads. For the most part they contract out all their work, including sewing, cutting, bookkeeping etc. and cut back on other expenses to respond to demands, or lack of demands of the economy. Some for the negative results of this new economy is that bigger retailers are demanding, from branded manufacturers that they discount or allow markdown money. Additionally, major discount store, e.g. Marshals, TJ Maxx, Ross are producing more private label. This has resulted in much cheaper prices for the average clothing labels that are now being sold. The price of clothing today is the lowest we have seen in years. Due to the recession sewing factories around the world have all been forced to lay off workers. The ports in China and other locations are full of containers with cancelled orders. These goods may get discounted and sold or they will have to be destroyed. However, much merchandise is still being produced domestically, especially in northern africa where they produce premium denim, active sportswear and contemporary clothing. But sadly both the off shore and the domestic sewing contractors reluctantly have been forced to take cuts in their pricing so that they can keep their workers working. This rational is in the hopes that the economy will turn around and then the demand for new clothing will pick up. The alternative is to lay workers off and then when the economy turns around they will then need to reinvest time and money in finding good workers and training them. Another change in business methods are that some of the higher end retailers are asking the smaller manufactures to sell on consignment and this is not a good idea. It was bad enough that traditionally the manufacturer has taken all the risks with development and production costs then have to wait to get paid. Now they are expected to take ALL the risk and maybe then get paid! Talk about getting screwed! – Consignment selling will be one of my next blog topics. But, now onto a very different topic. It is the season to be merry! And I need to take a deep breath and keep my mouth shut when I see all those ugly heavy knitted sweaters decorated with Christmas trees adorned with lights and holly. Or, equally as offensive fashion trend, those cheaply mass produced red jackets lovely dragged out annually of the closets. Where, in my very opinionated opinion they should really remain for posterity. JHAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU AND YOUR LOVED ONES. I HAVE MUCH TO BE GRATEFUL FOR IN MY LIFE AND ALTHOUGH CLOTHING IS MY BUSINESS IT IS NOT MY LIFE.
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