Is Old Sourcing Still Key to Success in Apparel Industry?

sourcing

By definition, sourcing is a process through which something is sourced from another place. 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 skill, 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. In short, if the narrated factors are not met then sourcing decision has to make.

Old Sourcing:

The fashion industry was used to follow the traditional ways of sourcing. 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, the robots have been introduced in many industries. So, by adding these automation options, one can control his/her day to day increasing labor cost. If this addition is practically implemented then it can affect 231 million manufacturing jobs at risk in almost 50 countries of the world.

Sourcing Automation & Digitization:

Not only this, through technology the sourcing can also be cost effective as well as fast.  The R&D  people also suggested some new ways through which sourcing operation can handle efficiently and even effectively. And as per them, there are two ways which can revolutionize the 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 digital sourcing 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, he will place the order as per the current requirements of the local market.

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 where everyone prefer remote manufacturers due to low cost. But in this approach, your manufacturing is handled 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).

Conclusion:

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 these are changed with the 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 accompanied with automation can be practical and beneficial. But it’s not homogeneous size which fits for all. As it would be more practical for some brands and may be impractical for few of them.

Digitization and automation in sourcing is no doubt a 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, we can’t say this thing that mass production will be shifted in  West in next decade. But you will see many players who will return and collect the benefits of this approach.

How Google Jacquard Supports The Smart Levi’s Denim Jacket

How Google Jacquard Support The Smart Levi’s Denim Jacket

The global smart sensors market is expected to grow at CAGR of 11.25 percent for year 2017 – 2021. As per the recent report which covers both present scenario and the industrial growth outlook of the smart sensor market. The main and major driving force of this growth is wearable technology. As we discussed in our earlier article that how wearable technology supports health and fashion industry. Along-with that, its contribution in military and other industrial sectors (mines, wind turbines, and oil-rigs) is also really helpful. Smart sensors are normally incorporated with wearables which directly connected with the cell phones or satellite transmission.  Recently Google and Levi’s collaboration launched a new smart levi’s denim jacket for cyclists and bikers.

Levi’s Denim Jacket with Jacquard by Google:

The Google unveiled its first smart jacket based on Jacquard technology last month. It’s a joint efforts of Google’s Advanced Technology and Products (ATAP) team and the famous clothing brand Levi Strauss. This smart top is developed with the Jacquard technology. And after having a successful launch, the technology people could get an idea that Jacquard platform can be used for such connected devices too. The Levi’s denim jacket is now available online as well as some selected US stores of different cities (Chicago, New York, San Francisco & Santa Monica).

Levi’s Denim Jacket Construction:

As per Paul Dillinger, vice president of global product innovation for Levi Strauss & Co, it’s isn’t just about technology for technology’s sake. As this garment guide the cyclist about ride navigation, along-with that it ease the cyclist to perform other simple tasks without taking off his/her eyes from the road. The rider’s phone is connected with cuff snap tag wirelessly. The said snap tag also notifies the cyclist/biker about calls and massages with light or haptic feedback.

The Levi’s denim jacket’s left cuff is made with conductive yarn which enables user for touch interactivity.  So, the user can do the simple tasks like answering or disconnecting calls, change music and accessing navigation information (by voice) with no hassle.  The digital connectivity is provided by the jacquard snap tag which is attached on the sleeve cuff.  When a cyclist/biker swap on the sleeve, the tag sends the wireless signals to the phone for performing the requested action.

Levi’s Denim Jacket Functionality:

While conceiving the urban cyclist/biker into mind, the Levi’s denim jacket has stretchable shoulder fabric. It has opening in the back for ventilation as well as dropped hem in the back. During finalizing the overall shape of levi’s denim jacket, the function and ease of wearer was on top of consideration.  As per Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh, the both companies plan to integrate more functions into the jacket. And this would involve cuttin g the need to pull your phone out all the time. As he further revealed that they encountered a lot of challenges while developing such innovative product. And even at one point, the jacket’s sleeve caught fire which was later on fixed and rectified.

This is not the end, as Levi’s is continuously striving to attract its clientele with some of its own innovation in the online world. And for that sake, the company has recently launched a chatbot on its site that serves as a virtual stylist.

 

Photos: Levi’s Denim Jacket with Jacquard™ by Google

Sustainability in Wearable Technology and E-Textile

Sustainability in Wearable Technology

The technology is becoming more efficient, accurate as well as even personalized now. The hardware devices are smaller, less noticeable and the data collection is more easy and smooth. The wearable technology companies own the user’s physiological data which is normally collected via mobile applications and devices, with an intention to perform any kind of operations on it. And this operation can be like analyze it, interpret it or even they can sell it without user consent. For instance, the personal fitness activities data is normally use to monitor worker’s health for job worthiness.

There are several technology giants and startups which are extensively working to make the next wearable gadget or application for body data tracking. This design will focus to connect multiple sensors and applications on the body for a more integrated view of the data. This is called a body area network of wearable devices which is connected with internet.

Sustainability in Wearable Technology:

In continuity of the above approach, a very huge wearable technology project is going to launch by Europe now. This project is investing EUR 2.4 million on the teams of creative people and development of latest technologists. And they will offer new ideas to the next generation for sustainability in wearable technology and e-textile. There are seven organizations across the Europe along with “Queen Mary University of London” and “University for the Creative Arts” are the part of this project name “Wear Sustain”. And for this, they have already launched the first of its two competition call-outs last month.

The said program is looking for the applications of the teams of engineers, design, art, technology and business experts. Because they can contribute an innovative and practical sustainable solutions for the wearable technology and e-textile. The fund of EUR 2.40 million will spend on the 48 teams of the experts (EUR 50,000/team) through innovation vouchers. And with the input from advisers and experts across the Europe, they will develop prototypes and take ideas from market. These prototypes will comprise of sustainability in wearable technology and e-textile. And all they will exhibit in a final showcase event late in 2018.

Wearable technology Gains:

The main motive of “Wear Sustain” is to develop such creative and technology oriented practices which support sustainable and ethical innovation methodologies for wearable technology and e-textile. And at the end of this project, they will publish online tutorial along with sustainable strategy guidelines. This information will definitely help the entrepreneurs and other industry’s stakeholder to aware the sustainability in wearable technology. Furthermore, it will also encourage them to use the recommended best practices for the future of society.