adapting to changing fashion landscape???
The fashion landscape has changed drastically in the last decade. Many developments in retail and consumer behaviour are driving the new directions of fashion. The millennial’s of today are more informed and tech savvy. They are the ones who re driving new patterns of buying. Their preferences are very different, not driven by brands but by value, for which they are ready to pay a fair price. They are also very impatient and look for instant gratification. Though no one can really predict the future, some believe that the period between 2017 to 2020 will forever change the apparel business around the world.
For the last five years, many big-box retailers, chains, and brands have either been losing ground or are stagnant with their growth. Thirty-seven out of thirty-nine retailers lost sales and share prices for three years in a row. Hundreds of stores are closing, and thousands of jobs are lost weekly. Yet there are companies like Amazon and Walmart who plans to hire another 100,000 employees.
The biggest challenge for brands today is to reduce the total product cycle time from initial design concept to delivery to the consumer. The last remaining opportunity they have is to tackle the product development and approval time, as that process counts for at least 65% of the total lead time (and can sometimes reach as much as seventy-five percent). This means that a 120day lead time typically involves over 85 days in product development and approvals.
One part of the world that really understands how to do fashion fast is California. In the “Golden State,” companies develop between 1,000 and 2,000 new styles every four weeks. These companies set the design trends throughout the fashion industry, and they also work very differently than the rest of the industry. Whereas the norm in most “high-tech” product development cycles includes big teams of people with tech packs and cumbersome product management systems, California companies simplify the process by using the most “old-school” methods i.e face-toface communication and organised assets. Not only do these cut down on operations costs, but they also help designers avoid miscommunication, which saves time. None of these fast fashion companies could survive if their product development time and cost was as high as it is for the typical importer.
To reduce the amount of time and resources
Many international brands, retailers, and vendors have adopted 3D sample-making. It’s true that it’s faster to send a digital sample over the internet, rather than send a physical sample by Fedex. But designers still need to see multiple sample iterations of a style before they sign off with an approval. A backand forth process, whether it happens in 80 days or 8 days, is still an inefficient process. But not many people are looking at the real problem here: tech packs.
Typically, a fashion designer describes what he/she wants to a technical designer, who creates a
The biggest challenge for brands today is to reduce the total product cycle time from initial design concept to delivery to the consumer. The last remaining opportunity they have is to tackle the product development and approval time, as that process counts for at least 65% of the total lead time (and can sometimes reach as much as seventyfive percent)
flat sketch of the garment, and adds it to a tech pack with all the information about that design, so that it can be sent to a vendor to make the accompanying pattern. But no one checks to see if the technical designer really understood what the fashion designer wanted in the first place. When the vendor receives this book, or tech pack, it’s not just the patternmaker who reviews and interprets the design, but rather a whole team of managers and merchandisers must come to a consensus that the first sample sent to the fashion designer is a true representation of the illustration in the tech pack. Sometimes this process requires two or three internal iterations in itself, before a sample is considered good enough to send for approval.
even still, when the first sample arrives, the first six words from the fashion designer’s mouth are (according to 97% of 317 designers interviewed over a period of eighteen months), “this is not what i wanted!” the real design process actually starts at this point, because the designer now has a reference garment to which they can request changes. But to get here, already between twelve and fourteen working days have been wasted.
What can be done to make sure that the first sample that a designer sees is actually the garment they envisioned? One California designer, Joie Rucker, says that in her experience whether designing for Guess, Levi’s, or her own name-sake brand, Joie, “a sew-by is the most direct way of communicating with any of my suppliers. It eliminates the need for page, upon page, upon book of tech packs. A sewby is a kind of sample garment that a designer sends as a reference (perhaps with comments attached) to a vendor, rather than a flat sketch and pages of technical information. Rucker continues, “No matter how long or detailed your tech pack is, people just don’t have the time in their day to read a book on one garment, let alone many books on many garments.” Since the dawn of the tech pack, the sew-by has become a less popular tool, largely in part because the fashion designers of today don’t have the pattern-making skills required to make such a thing. The designers of today, largely, are focused on the “look” of a garment
versus the construction. Options to express their vision may end at sketching, or working with a technical designer to communicate their
vision, which as has been demonstrated, usually doesn’t work.
In New York City, the salary for a technical designer, averages around $60,000 a year, and a fashion designer averages nearly $10,000 more than that. Brands, buyers, and retailers are willing to pay for talent, but how much of that talent goes to waste because of miscommunication with the vendor who will produce the finalised design?
What seems to work best in communicating a design idea is a reference garment (whether it’s an initial sew-by, or the first sample iteration from a tech pack), asset organisation, and face to-face collaboration. This seems to work well in California, where companies are vertically integrated and issues can be addressed on the same day. But what about the rest of the industry? How does a designer in New York who has no patternmaking skills send a reference garment? How can they communicate with a patternmaker who lives in a time-zone twelve hours ahead of them?
The answer is adopting latest 3D technology tools.
Companies like Tukatech offers premium technology solution subscriptions starting as low as $29 a month. For decades, TUKACAD systems for patternmaking, grading, and markermaking have given manufacturers power in process engineering and efficiency. More recently, the TUKA3D application for virtual sample-making has helped reduce the amount of time and number of iterations required to approve a sample for production. The “new kid on the block,”
Tukacloud, has given vendors and designers more mobility in the sample approval process with visual data-hosting, simple communication, and flexible collaboration on the web.
In TUKA3D Designer Edition (DE), existing virtual samples are brought into the Garment Builder* module, where already-simulated style components can be swapped, added, or deleted to “snap” together a new silhouette. This becomes a digital sew-by, without the designer even looking at a pattern. Next, the print designer can use this digital sew-by as a blank canvas in the Print Visualizer module, in which they can preview their own developments. A process that is typical even sharing and collaborating about the styles on Tukacloud*.
Founded in 1995, Tukatech, Inc. is the apparel industry’s leading provider of fashion technology solutions, with teams of apparel industry expert engineers worldwide. Tukatech offers powerful software and hardware for every process from the pattern-room to the cutting— room it’s available for the pattern-maker to use when they receive the digital sew-by. At this point, all they need to do is audit the pattern and prepare it for production processes.
From here, those who are already established on TUKA3D and Tukacloud continue their process as they have, but the first 3D sample iteration is a lot closer (if not exact) to what the designer wanted.
In TUKA3D Designer Edition (DE), existing virtual samples are brought into the Garment Builder* module, where already-simulated style components can be swapped, added, or deleted to “snap” together a new silhouette. This becomes a digital sew-by, without the designer even looking at a pattern.