1. Dear Ms Franz, globalisation, digitalisation and a shift in values is driving change in the clothing industry. What chances are there for new ways of buying?
Due to the current situation, nearshoring, the practice of transferring a business operation to nearby countries, is presently gaining in importance. Nearshoring saves time in buying, which in turn leads to a reduction in costs. Buying in general is getting more deliberate, one reason for this being the calculation of costs. The spending of budgets is more concentrated, which means that the planning of budgets has also become more specific. Design, for instance, has also become more deliberate. Smaller collections are offered for a limited period of time, leading to a shortage and so also to a new desirability, which in turn leads to a better inventory situation. In terms of upstream stages, fabrics are being increasingly digitalised, meaning that both colours and fabric properties can be evaluated by computers, making the posting of samples redundant and also reducing the need for production managers to travel for sourcing reasons. In future, it will also be possible to digitalise the complete process of creating collections with different suppliers.
2. Sustainability and social responsibility along the supply chain are becoming increasingly more important. What are the best practices of sourcing, what aspects of sourcing have potential?
Circularity will be even more important in the future, in particular the ability to create recycled collections. In upstream production, the goal is to sustainably produce yarns and fabric mixes that can be recycled. When it comes to the creation of collections, it is essential to use less resources. There is still a lot of work to do in this respect, in particular when it comes to finished products, like when vintage collections are overhauled so they can be reused. Ecolables like Bluesign offer a certain degree of orientation and guarantee. What is still problematic is the question of who will control that the environmentally friendly and socially acceptable standards of ecolabels are complied with and put into practice. In principle, the passing of the supply chain law is also an important pioneering step to make sure that a globally operating industry starts to take responsibility.
3. What are the main adjustments companies will have to make to ensure that they can continue to compete in the international market? And what can companies with smaller structures do to make their ways of sourcing more sustainable?
For quite a time now, established fashion companies have been trying to find their place between luxury and the mass market. Important next steps are to adopt new retail concepts, adjust supply chains, invest in forward-thinking logistics and readjust the balance between quality and price. That is not a one-way street, which means that industry and retail should cooperate more closely in the future. An important adjustment smaller companies need is to be able to produce at acceptable costs, so that their own margins will be sufficient in the end. More transparency is needed to achieve this. Smaller companies could benefit from sourcing partnerships with manufactures or from specialising. Another key to success is, not least, to network with institutions that support the building of companies and the introduction of innovative solutions.
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Perspectives: New ways of buying
- Digitising & connecting