The journey of a garment
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The journey of a garment

Laura Arana examines how the right technology makes all the difference when it comes to fashion, from design right through to delivery.

In this era of fast fashion, consumers could be forgiven for thinking that clothing manufacturers have discovered a magic solution to produce garments in super-quick time. In reality, with the entire process from initial design through to an item of clothing reaching the shops taking anything between 30 and 100 days, producing clothes is anything but an overnight miracle. The many processes involved in garment manufacture, not to mention the inordinate amount of variables at play, from sizing, to color, to fit, means that fashion manufacturing is one of the most complex industries to be involved in. What can make all the difference, helping to achieve turnaround times closer to the 30-day mark, is investing in the right technology such as SAP Business One for Apparel and Footwear. Forward-thinking manufacturers have already invested in software that’s capable of supporting their business at every step of the way, from design, through product development, manufacture and onto delivery, smoothing the journey of the garment for increased business efficiency and the resulting financial benefits that this brings.

Design-led

As is the case with all fashion businesses, the design comes first, be it on paper or using any number of CAD tools. With the right solution in place, this initial design is uploaded to a central repository, marking the starting point of the particular design’s journey. It’s at this stage that different styles can be categorized and effectively managed, all within the same solution, saving time and the inevitable errors that occur when transferring design data from one system to another.

Next comes garment sampling and product development where the initial design is turned into a prototype of the final garment, an area where clothing manufacturers spend a great deal of time and money. Different fabrics are perhaps tried and tested, with different samples made for different uses, including size set samples, sales samples, and pre-production samples, as well as garment prototypes. All the product development and sampling information is gathered and stored in the same system, accompanying the garment on the next stage of its production journey, pattern making.

Cut to size

With a full sleeve shirt made of around 20 different components to be stitched together, the need for garment patterns to be right first time is crucial to avoid not only waste but also hold-ups in production. The right solution uses the information generated during the product development stage to generate accurate patterns for each garment, with each pattern then linked to a fabric in the cost sheet, as well as the relevant trims and packing accessories, linking to each SKU and forming the starting point of the all-important Bill of Materials.

All this information is then used by the factory to create a manufacturing order, where all jobs and processes are tracked against the particular product, again using the same system where the initial design was first uploaded. Incorporating the cutting of garment parts and any required printing and embroidery, each garment can be tracked at any stage of the process, providing full product visibility at any one time.

From here, the business uses the system to direct partial garments to the right place on the stitching assembly line, ensuring optimum levels of efficiency and accuracy, as well as managing the quality checking of the stitching and guaranteeing any necessary stitching repairs are made before the garment is directed, again via the system, to the next stage in the process.

The home straight

Next comes garment washing and finishing, all again managed and tracked by the comprehensive IT solution that accompanies each product through the factory. As instructed by the system, garments are then pressed, folded and packed, in line with the specific demands of the particular customer for whom the products are intended. All relevant packing, folding and labelling information is stored against the garment in the management solution, seamlessly linking in with the business’s warehousing operations to ensure the right products reach their final destination in the right way. Again, all operations are tracked, making it possible to view any garment at any stage of the process. Then comes quality control, with manufacturer and customer quality parameters built-in to the system, ensuring quality standards are met every time.

Finally, approved products are ready for dispatch. Here again, the right solution comes into its own, managing shipment details and integrating with the manufacturer’s dispatch department to enable the garments to reach their final destination on time, every time, be it direct to store or to a warehouse.

As you can see, with a next generation solution in place, fashion businesses can make a real difference to their bottom line. By delivering high quality garments quicker and more effectively than ever before, all while securing real efficiency savings, fashion manufacturers can guarantee those all-important levels of customer satisfaction as well as stealing a crucial march on the competition.

What to look for in a ERP solution for the fashion industry:

  1. You need a solution designed specifically to cope with the nuances of the fashion industry.
  2. Make sure the solution you choose really is end-to-end, so design through to delivery.
  3. For optimum user buy-in, you need a solution that’s easy to use. You want to simplify processes, not complicate them.
  4. A solution that grows alongside your business is a must. Don’t be constrained by your software.
  5. Do you operate on an international level? If so, you need a solution that can cope with multiple currencies and languages.

 Learn more about how SAP Business One for Apparel and Footwear can improve your business operations.

 For more information on how Argentis can help your fashion business, contact us.

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