06 Basic Guidelines for Denim Jeans Manufacturing

06 Basic Guidelines for Denim Jeans Manufacturing

The history of denim jeans started in 19th century at America. The Levi Strauss and Jacob Devis were the main key persons and founder of denim jeans pant. The Levi Strauss came from Germany to US in 1853 where he joined his brother’s dry goods business. He was dealing in different items in which cotton fabric was also included. Whereas, the Jacob W. Davis (a tailor of different items like tents, horse blankets, and wagon covers) was one of his customer of cotton fabric. One day, Jacob Devis customer ordered him a stardy pant that could bear hard work. So, he bought denim-jeans fabric from Levi Strauss and made stardy pant with copper-rivets at different parts of the pant.

After making the first successful development in jeans, the Jacob decided to do continue this line with some more advancement. So, he contacted the Levi Strauss and asked him to join him for this project. The Levi Strauss agreed to support him for this development and then they started work on denim jeans garments. So, this is how the first jeans pant was invented in 1873 with the joint efforts of Jacob Devis and Levi Strauss. And after that their jeans factory introduced and changed the main concept of jeans pant. And it’s the tireless efforts of both experts which introduced the denim jeans from workwear to fashion wear.

History of Denim Jeans Fabric:

As we all know that the jeans are made from denim. The word denim is derived from sturdy fabric called “Serge de Nîmes” in French language. The weavers of Nîmes in Italy were trying to reproduce the cotton corduroy fabric but due to some error they developed a sturdy twill fabric known as denim. And this twill fabric’s weft passes through two or three warp threads. Initially, the warp thread was indigo blue dyed whereas the weft threads remained in white color. So, the facing part of the fabric was blue whereas the reverse side of the denim fabric was in white color.

Although with the passage of time, there are too much enhancements in the characteristics and look of the denim fabric. But, the regular denim jeans fabric still has the same look (reverse side white and front side blue indigo). The blue indigo is a dye which was initially made from trees. But with the passage of time, it is now making with synthetic chemicals with some advance look and features. There are mainly four types of denim fabrics which are usually extensively use in denim jeans fashion industry. The main denim jeans fabrics are cotton/stretch, poly cotton stretch, 100% cotton and poly cotton. Although there are some other types too in denim yet they are not as hot selling items as above said qualities.

Denim Jeans Garment Making Process:

After having a basic information about denim jeans history, making and types of denim. Let’s have a look on below step by step detail of denim jeans pant making process. And for this we will start the same from development process from fabric development to garment finishing step:

Spinning & Weaving:

The cotton denim jeans fabric is developed by cotton thread which is made from cotton crop. The field workers picked the crop from fields and send it to spinning mills for yarn development. The spinning mills follow the sequence of processes that convert raw cotton fibres into yarn. And by following these numbers of spinning processes, they get clean, strong, uniform yarns required for weaving process. After going through rope dyeing and sizing process, the yarn sized beams are ready for weaving. This yarn is used both in warp and weft thread of the denim to develop a stable and long lasting fabric. After weaving process, the fabric is moved to finishing department for final finish/look.

Cutting:

At cutting, first of all, the required garment (top/bottom) patterns are made before cutting start. And these patterns are drawn on cutting layers on denim fabric. Cutting layers length and thickness (05/200 layers per cutting table) are decided according to the requirement of order. Once the layers are done, the plotter machine drawn the paper pattern which is laid on the denim layers for cutting. The sharp cutters are used to cut these layers according to the drawings.

Stitching:

The cut parts of denim fabrics layers are then move to stitching department for stitching purposes. In some garments, the embroidery or printing is required. So, these parts normally move to embroidery or printing department before stitching process. The stitching of normal pant is done by polyester/cotton thread (top thread: 30-40 count, inner thread: 50-100 count). And normally the stitching process is done in chain production system (garment stitching operations divided into number of operators). Once, the stitching is done then raw top/bottom moved to washing process.

Washing:

The washing process is divided into two steps, the first one is dry process and the other one is wet process. In dry process, all the before wash effects like distressing, sand blasting, tie & dye, pintuck effects etc. are done before the washing process. After completing the dry process the garment steps into enzyme/stone wash process. During this process, the shade and grain effects are matching through different enzymes and bleaching chemicals. The white used effect at front and back is normally made with KMNO4 (Potassium permanganate) chemical. If the wrinkles are required on garment then the garment wrinkles are cure into oven after washing process.

Finishing:

After washing, the garments are landed on finishing department. Here, all pre-finishing (cropping, buttoning, mending etc.) and finishing (pressing, quality, tagging & packing etc) processes are done. Once quality is done then garments are packed into cartons according to the required client’s ratio for final dispatch.

Some Ending But Important Points:  

The above fabric and garments making process is a conventional process. Although there are so many enhancements are already made in the above process but the basic procedure is still same. If someone wants to closely understand the denim jeans making process then he/she must go through the above steps first. After having a complete know how about the conventional method. Then he/she should review the other modern steps which are mostly related to environment sustainability in garment manufacturing process.

As it’s really necessary to know these sustainable technologies enhancement too. Because the old or conventional manufacturing process is not eco-friendly. Although the manufacturing steps remain same in new method yet the techniques which we adopt in these steps will be changed. For example, the crop cultivation method and spinning method has improved now. As in old cultivation method, we were consuming too much water and chemicals in our fields. Whereas now, the consumptions of water and chemicals are now too much controlled in both cultivation and spinning process.

Same is the case with garments manufacturing. After knowing the above steps, you should know about the lean manufacturing process. As it considers as best manufacturing approach which guides you how to enhance manufacturing with zero waste. The traditional or old washing process was the more water and hazardous chemical consuming process. So, now there are some enhancements in washing process too which  considers as eco-friendly. There are so many technologies which are working perfectly and saving too much water and chemicals. And more importantly, it is saving our land from the toxic chemicals of washing and finishing process of garments.

Is Old ways of Sourcing in fashion industry Still Key to Success?

 

sourcing in fashion

By definition, sourcing is a process through which something is obtained from another place. So, the sourcing in fashion industry is process to procure apparels from other best resources. The sourcing decision is normally made on the basis of several factors. Although sourcing of anything is not a simple task. That’s why, the concern people always first try to make/develop the product by their own. If the production of particular product is not cost effective, non-availability of skills, unsatisfactory suppliers or vendors then they have to go for sourcing. There are four factors on the basis of which one can decide whether to make or source the product. And it includes cost, production capability, quality and lead time of the required product.

Cost: In some products, the product cost is not as cheaper as compare to the outsource supplier. It could be due to several factors like cheaper labor availability or cheaper raw material cost due to several suppliers. So, in this particular case, you better decide outsource the production instead of in-house manufacturing.

Production Capability: Every territory and geographic location has its own characteristics and benefits. If we consider the apparel industry examples then some areas have skilled labor of top items (jackets, upper, shirts etc). Whereas, some are good in washing capability due to its good water PH value and labor proficiency. So, here in this particular case, again you will have to make fashion sourcing strategy according to the product characteristics and classification.

Quality:  Quality is no doubt the foremost requirement of every client. If you are compromising on product quality due to unskilled labor or usage of sub-standard raw material. On the other hand, you could have option to procure the better quality with same cost. Or by paying some extra pennies for better quality from contract manufacturing. Then your first choice would be none of the other to outsource the product.

Lead Time: The product lead time is also really crucial in product development process. Some companies have expertise and running regular orders in specific products. Such companies can offer you not only competitive prices of those products but also give you a short lead time. So, in that particular case, you will definitely choose outsourcing option.

Sourcing in Fashion Industry:

The sourcing in fashion industry was use to follow the traditional ways. In which the main motive is to reduce product cost through selection of cheapest manufacturers. And in order to get cheap manufacturing vendors, you have to look for in less developed countries. This is why, the fashion industry gradually moved from west to Eastern Europe to Asia and Africa.

With the passage of time, the ways of production and processing is changing and improving. The research and development teams are continuously focusing on time high quality product with low cost. In order to reduce the cost, instead of human being, the robots are working in many industries. So, by adding these automation options, one can control his/her day to day increasing labor cost. But practically speaking, its not possible to implement it on all operations of the fashion industry. Because due to fast fashion, every time you will have to change your production lines and flow drastically. But if this addition happens practically then it can affect 231 million manufacturing jobs at risk in almost 50 countries of the world. Anyhow, it’s a long debate which can distract us from our original topic i.e. sourcing in fashion.

Sourcing in Fashion: Automation & Digitization

Furthermore, through technology the sourcing in fashion can also be cost effective as well as fast.  The R&D people also suggested some new ways through which sourcing in fashion operation can handle efficiently and even effectively. And as per them, there are two ways which can revolutionize the fashion sourcing world and it include as follows:

Digitization in Sourcing:  

It’s the requirement of every client for more transparency in production and material sourcing. Along with that everyone is demanding for shorter lead-time and increased production. All of this can happen by the help of digitization in sourcing. As per the current market scenario where speedy but customize production trend is getting hot. So, you can’t meet the market trends without digital support. The sourcing in fashion with digital mode has positive impact on China which is a big player in textile sector. Since the wages are increasing in China so it’s time to move brand manufacturing outside China. In this particular matter, digitization will help the Chinese manufacturers to streamline its product cost.

In-fact, sourcing digitization will empower the client to speak more effectively. As per the experts, there will be a time when people place customize apparel orders through their mobiles. These order will digitally sent to the manufacturers for completing the desired job.  So, the elimination in barriers through digitization will definitely help the manufacturers to speed-up their productions. And this can shorten the lead time and allow end users to communicate their requirement directly. When we look this concept in a broader way then a storekeeper can place the order directly to manufacturer.   So, with the help of digitization, the sourcing in fashion is not only fast but cost effective too. Because the storekeeper will place the order as per most recent trend of the local market. And this would definitely decrease rate of waste clothes which lye on shelves due to non-selling.

Li&Fung is currently investing heavily in digitization concept. And their main motive is to streamline their operations, transparency in production and focusing on digital-design to avoid prototype cost. The famous brands Zara, H&M and Macy’s are also focusing on same line. What they are doing, they are trying to change the whole shopping experience of the customer who visit them. They will try something to the customer and then it will be customized by the help of AI and made nearby.

Automation in Sourcing:

Automation in sourcing means you replace human labor with robots. This approach is vice versa to the traditional sourcing in fashion. Where everyone is normally prefers remote manufacturers due to low cost. But in this approach, your manufacturing is handling by robots so you try to build manufacturing set up closer to end user markets. Moreover, you have a close interaction with the end user so the product innovation or customization is possible. Along with that you can easily enhance your production speed which will shorten the lead time of high fashion apparels. Furthermore, changing in geographical location can also eliminate the huge cost and hassle of long-distance transportation/duties. In-future, if this concept runs well then there will be no inventory at all as all products are made on-request.

There is no doubt that most of the people believed that in future automation would be the major driver in sourcing decision. And this thing will happen in next few years when sourcing people prefer automation instead of labor cost. Its fact, by implementing automation, there is chance the number of people will lose their jobs. But on the other hand, the new jobs are also created with better remunerations. And these new jobs would be a bit tech oriented like data analyst, engineers, technician etc. By adopting automation, factories have even a better chance to grow. So, they could also adjust the surplus staff to other vacant posts (after some training). Anyhow, there are some practical limitations which are also discourage the concept of automation in fashion industry.

Sourcing in Fashion: Practical Approach

There are some people who don’t believe on automation and digitization approach. As per them, the apparel industry is not like other industries where production steps are fixed.  As every product production steps are different from past products due to change in fashion trends (which are already a more volatile thing of current phase). So, you can’t replace skilled workers with robots. On the other hand, some believe that digitization process accompanied with automation can be practical and beneficial. But it’s not a homogenous which equally fits and beneficial for all. As it would be more practical for some brands and may be impractical for few of them.

Sourcing in fashion through digitization and automation is no doubt revolutionary concept for fashion players. And there are so many brands which are transforming their processes to take maximum benefits from this concept. Through automation, you can’t say this thing that mass production will again shift and run in the West in next-decade. But you will see many players who will return and collect the benefits of this concept.

Why Lean Manufacturing is Essential for Apparel Industry

Lean Manufacturing

The Lean Manufacturing is not a new word for us. Being a textile professional, every one of us has direct or indirect relation with textile manufacturing. The lean manufacturing is basically an operational strategy which supports the production from all aspects. By following its unique techniques and methods, the manufacturer can get an optimal production without any waste. So, in simple words, we can say that lean is a manufacturing without waste. The lean manufacturing concept was derived from Toyota production system which basic motive was to increase the value-added work by minimizing waste and reducing incidental work. The lean manufacturing basic concept is to put half efforts of the labor, half of the manufacturing space, half of the tools investment and the engineering hours for developing a new product in a half time.

Lean Manufacturing Concept:

As I described earlier that lean manufacturing philosophy is mostly derived from Toyota production system. With the help of lean manufacturing, a small automobile company named Toyota could reduce its waste and improve overall customer-value. The steady growth of Toyota from small company to globally renowned is an undoubted success of this system. The emphasis of lean manufacturing is utilizing fewer resources to produce the value added product.

Lean Manufacturing Vs Conventional Production System:

There is no doubt that lean manufacturing has totally changed the concept of the production system. As its techniques are conceptually different from the conventional system.  Although there are so many points which can differentiate both systems yet I have selected some points to understand the same in a better way:

Lean Manufacturing Vs Conventional Production System:

There is no doubt that lean manufacturing has totally changed the concept of the production system. As its techniques are conceptually different from the conventional manufacturing system.  Although there are so many points which can differentiate both systems yet I have selected some points to understand the same in a better way:

Conventional Manufacturing

Lean Manufacturing

 

The day to day production problems are normally view or treat as problems in conventional system.

In lean manufacturing, problems are normally view as opportunities for future improvement. By the help of which, there is a better chance to enhance new or value added features into the current product.
In traditional production system, the production is normally driving by sales forecast team or people. In lean system, it’s also one of the main motive of the production team to avoid surplus stock. So, this is why, the production is only driving by customer’s demand (like JIT system).
Work in progress (WIP) is a normal thing or part of production operation in conventional production system. Whereas in lean production system, the WIP is symbol that the process is requiring some improvements. And it is also considers as waste which need to improve on priority basis.
The top or in some cases tactical management level is authorize to change the process of production. And they normally don’t bother to involve operational staff in decision making process. Everyone is looking for the ways to improve the process/system. So, anyone from the production team can come up with suggestion to improve the product value in lean system.
In conventional production process, the standard work procedures only define in papers. But there is no any practical implications exist on the production floor. In lean manufacturing, everyone is normally following the standard procedure which describes in SOP. And it keeps following until or unless new or an improve version introduces or implements.
This system focuses more on the people’s training. And it totally relies on the people not to make mistakes. On the other hand, the lean manufacturing focuses on the system improvements. Once the system improves then it prevents people not to commit any mistake in day to day production matters.
In traditional or conventional production system, if the production process is working smoothly. Then no one bothers to intercept it for further improvements and things are running on same pattern years to years. In this way of production, if experts feel that with some necessary changes, they can improve the production system. Then they don’t wait for any happening/incident. They simply intercept the smooth system and implement the necessary changes to get a better production with quality.
In conventional production system, the product design lasts for a long period of time. In lean manufacturing, there research and development work is going on continues basis. This is why the product design and shape is changing by the passage of time.
In traditional production system, the quality department is built separately and they are responsible for the product quality parameters. The operational worker are note responsible for it. In this advance manufacturing system, all the workers are responsible for the quality of the product. The TQM and JIT systems are best examples of this.

 Some Other Factors:

The above comparison study is not over yet here.  As there are so many other benefits which a company can enjoy while adopting the lean manufacturing system. Even you can eliminate the following deadly waste blunders which you commit while following the conventional manufacturing system. The lean system identified the same as follows:

Some Other Factors:

The above comparison study is not over yet. As there are so other benefits which a company can enjoy while adopting the lean manufacturing system. Even you can eliminate the following deadly waste blunders which you commit while following the conventional manufacturing system. The lean system identified the same as follows:

  • Defects
  • Extra Processing cost
  • Transportation
  • Motion
  • Waiting
  • Over Production (Inventory)

Before the lean system, the defects or goods rejection percentage is uncontrollable. And due to this, the company has to produce extra (which causes extra processing & over production) to meet the exact order quantity. And sometime, this extra production drags the company towards extra cost and transportation for procurement of extra material for excessive goods. In short, a bad system pulls the financial cost of the produced product on break even or sometime even on negative side.

Lean Production in Apparel Industry:

Although the lean manufacturing concept was initiated by the Toyota motors yet it doesn’t fix for automobile industry only. This system has too much flexibility and can easily adopt into other manufacturing industries like apparel industry. By adopting this system, one can not only reduce its cost but also increase its turnover systematically. Its state-of-the-art system can continuously eliminate the non value-added activities which lead the company towards ultimate process cost saving.  In today’s competitive apparel market, where every upcoming order is requiring more competitive or low price.

So, it’s a normal practice of every manufacturer to revisit its product material sourcing cost and other factory overheads. So for this, the manufacturer has to cut down its material cost from scratch. After cutting the material cost, the next step is to get best competitive cost of its in house production. And for this, they have to check each and every factor which boosts the production cost surprisingly. And there is no doubt in it that rejection rate plays a vital role in the product cost. It can drag the company from profit to loss and vice versa. If a company controls this factor by adopting such method which is not only cost effective but production-friendly too. Then, the chances are really bright that the company can not only easily compete the market. But they can even earn better than previously.

Lean Manufacturing Implementation:

The lean manufacturing system is no doubt an ultimate solution to get the value-added product with minimum cost. This is why, the strength of textile manufacturing concern is increasing by every passing day. If you are closely observe the numbers of lean manufacturing oriented units in textile industry. Then you would realize that thousands of textile units are already adopting its techniques and methods. And now they are enjoying its benefits in terms of productivity and savings.