How can the garment manufacturing sector cope up with Fast Fashion?

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The Ready-Made Garments industry or the Garment Manufacturing industry has expanded dramatically over the last three decades. The sector now dominates the modern economy in export earnings, secondary impact and employment generated. It has given the opportunity of employment to millions of unemployed, especially innumerable not so educated population especially women in the Subcontinent, India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh and other countries like Vietnam, Ethiopia etc. But how has Fast Fashion Impacted the Garment Manufacturing sector is what we will be seeing in this blog but before that let’s get a brief about the sector first.

And as always the sudden and exponential growth has come with its own Challenges. Apparel Manufacturing in the past has made its way to developing or underdeveloped economies because of various factors, cheap labor being one of them. We have discussed how these developing economies can stop the further shift of the manufacturing location in our previous blog, but here we are going to discuss the other challenge, which is Fast Fashion and how Garment Manufacturing companies have to deal with the changing nature of modern-day fashion.

Fast Fashion

Fast fashion is the term used to describe clothing designs that move quickly from the catwalk to stores to meet new trends. The collections are often based on designs presented at Fashion Week events. Fast Fashion allows mainstream consumers to purchase trendy clothing at an affordable price. 

Fast fashion became common because of cheaper clothing, an increase in the appetite for fashionable clothing, and the increase in purchasing power on the part of consumers. Because of all this, fast fashion is challenging new fashion lines that are introduced on a seasonal basis by traditional fashion houses. In fact, it’s not uncommon for fast-fashion retailers to introduce new products multiple times in one week to stay on-trend.

Quick Response And Adaptability To Fast Fashion

This is now a precondition to survive the fast-fashion world. The buying pattern of the western world and consumer behavior are changing. The new generation is buying new dresses in every week. This is resulting to lead time reduction. Value chains are being redesigned by many brands as their customers want new designs, new ideas on their dresses. To cope up with the ever-changing fast fashion manufacturers equally have to reduce their lead time and also adopt new value chain shifts. 

Basically no margin of error. Brands adhering to the fast fashion business model continue to squeeze suppliers by setting unrealistic targets, continually demanding that they produce increased quantities faster and cheaper.

Opportunities for Garment Manufacturing Sector

It is said that Necessity is the Mother of all Inventions, and in this case it is true for the Garment manufacturing sector as well. These challenges have given opportunity for the sector to invest in technological innovation, software solutions and training that will not only boost their stature when it comes to coping up with fast fashion but will also promise a more profitable future. 

How different is the role of technology that you witnessed in your initial days in the industry compared to what it is today? 

Technology has taken a long road from when I started my journey in the RMG sector. There were no ERP then, not much automation. Cheap availability of labor impacted the whole supply chain, resulting in Apparel manufacturing becoming a sector massively driven by the workforce, leaving not much room for any sort of automation.

South Africa had good manufacturing business so machines there were really good compared to new manufacturing hubs in the subcontinent initially. However, with the geographical shift in manufacturing, automation and technology became a common name making it a compulsion for exporters.

What are the benefits of such changes that you see and what difference has it created? 

Well, there are a lot of benefits. For example, the Maintenance cost has reduced by 30-35% today. Connectivity of departments has increased which allows a smooth flow of resources plus information in the supply chain. Tracking and diagnosis has made it even more handy.

To add on that, the connectivity to vendors too has made a big difference and made the workflow easy. Files have now been replaced with digital recorders, you have the freedom to access any data from anywhere. This really does make the work transparent and easy for you.

Some people claim to believe in 100% automation for the apparel manufacturing sector? What are your views on the same and how different it would be from what the industry is today? 

100% automation is a good option but we need to see what we are comparing it to. When we see the automobile sector for example, most of the processes are automated and that is serving the industry pretty well.

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