The team have not long returned from a highly successful brand new addition to the PI Apparel conference world series. Back in 2013, we launched PI Apparel Europe in response to the ever-increasing number of brands attending our cross-industry event, who wanted to examine the crucial role that technology plays – especially in the fast-moving world of fashion, apparel and footwear. While over the last four years we have seen the event grow to the point it regularly sells out in New York, that didn't take away from the nerves launching an event in Asia from a small office in London. I am pleased to say however, we are back at the PI Apparel HQ with smiles all round.
4 months is a long time in fashion. It’s the time it takes for a whole season to change, and seemingly when it comes to digital transformation at Mustang, 4 months is how long it takes for a PLM implementation.
For those of you who don’t know, Mustang GmbH are the oldest denim manufacturer in Europe. With 80 years of denim experience covering most of Europe for both retail and wholesale, their span is vast. While they managed to achieve this formerly using the likes of Excel, local lists, and BOMs made in Adobe AI, they knew that a heritage business shouldn't mean heritage it IT architecture.
We were working with a lot of local lists, a lot of mistakes, and a lot of time consumed looking for the most recent list. We wanted to make a big step into the future, not just for the present, but to be ready for the future.
Their challenge was to step into the future and gain more control over their product lifecycle, which in turn would reduce supply-chain inefficiencies and shorten time to market. They selected their PLM system, and in no less than four months it was rolled out.
In this video from PI Apparel in Berlin, Julia Dubowy, Director of Operations at Mustang shares how they achieved this rapid IT systems transformation and how it reshaped the way they do business.
We have shorter meetings as the data is accessible and 40% fewer questions during the product development process. We can easily assess our suppliers and are always up to date. Overall our process is 30% faster
The apparel, fashion and footwear industry is a fast paced enviroment, where those hungry for innovation thrive. New product lines boast new trends, new technology, new standards. Yet in this everchanging landscape, one thing has remained a consistent cause for concern in recent years – fit.
A recurring theme at PI Apparel Berlin earlier this month, was how those of you working in luxury and legacy brands, which have for decades if not centuries, prided themselves in being heritage labels steeped in tradition, can appeal to a newer, younger and wider audience without alienating traditional customers.
Over the two days we were lucky enough to hear from some of fashion's forward thinkers – including Cathy McGabe, CIO at Jaeger, who is currently spearheading the digital business transformation. The sixties helped establish Jaeger as an iconic luxury brand, but to stay relevant they have to ensure they engage with their customers in the fast moving digital marketplace. Having lead IT-enabled change at Burberry, another iconic British designer brand, Cathy was the ideal person to lead the change, and she joined us at PI Apparel Berlinto share the journey of their digital transformation.
Here are some of our key takeaways from Cathy’s session:
3D technology has made huge strides within the fashion/apparel space over the last few years with most brands either having already made a solid investment in the area, or at least recognising the need to invest in the near future. While the siloed benefits of digital product creation are already being realised, the true disruptive potential of these tools is only possible if an end-to-end digital ecosystem is created.
When Joshua Young, Former 3D Studio Director with Nike, spoke at PI Apparel New York this summer, he used the metaphor of building a car (3D ecosystem) with one hand tied behind your back (lack of PLM). After all, the benefits of 3D are easily measurable - it has the ability to reduce waste and lead development timelines through digital prototyping, which also has the sustainability factor. But – how can this be done accurately without the holistic view of your garment and its supply chain that PLM provides?
Josh Young, Speaking at PI Apparel New York
Yet, in terms of culture, 3D is often seen more of a creative tool, and PLM an IT tool. Really, the cultural ideal is having designers recognise that should these two platforms work together, the preproduction phase of the value chain will be more efficient for everyone in the long run. Simon Kim, Chief Strategy Officer of CLO Virtual Fashion who are currently taking the apparel world by storm, stresses that if you intend to use 3D to its full potential, it needs to be at the centre of your process innovation.
3D is not merely a tool that fits into the current process to make it a little more efficient."
- Simon Kim, Chief Strategy Officer, CLO Virtual Fashion
The future has arrived and its automated, yet many manufacturers are still living in the spreadsheet stone age.
The same was true of Sport Obermeyer. An overcustomised IT system that no one knew how to use, meant people were relying on spreadsheets. What’s wrong with spreadsheets the Luddites ask?
Obermeyer's cost margins were out by as much as 10%, and a high maintenance system that was near impossible to extract data from was starting to affect the bottom line, and ultimately see the company out of business.
Enter Greg Bannister, COO, who within a year, completely transformed the IT Infrastructure with “the most aggressive strategy anyone has ever heard of". With a new ERP system fully implemented in a 3 month turnaround, warehouse management in 4, PLM in 5, and supply chain before the year was out, Obermeyer now have a far more efficient supply chain with a single database across all platforms.
The end result? A much more successful company. In this PI Apparel interview, Greg shares how he managed this momentous system overhaul, and why a 'sink or swim' implementation really is the only way to go.
It’s changing the world. Not only in apparel or luxury goods, but in every industry across the board. - Frank Furlan
Wearable technology has been around for some time and the general consensus in the fashion industry is that it’s here to stay. Some go one step further in saying this is one ‘trend’ all brands must adopt to stay viable. As such, fashion, apparel and footwear brands are looking to other industries to see how their products can become a 'wardrobe staple' by serving multiple purposes.
This is a concept that has come up a great deal at past PI Apparel events. Brands like adidas, Under Armour, Target and THE UNSEEN have shown us how their clothing and accompanying technologies can measure and maximise athletic performance. Taking this one step further, and one step closer to the global consumer rather than just athletes, Frank Furlan, former President of The Swatch Group points to FitBit as a brand that leads in this field.
With 21.4 million connected health and fitness devices sold in 2015 alone*, they have clearly nailed the concept that now more than ever we are obsessed with living longer through living healthier, and have turned their wearable technology into a staple .
“The real benefit of wearable technology whether worn on the wrist or another part of the body is that it brings control and power through education and awareness back to the consumer. Through all the data it processes, it allows me to get a better understanding of the variables that affect my life”
As a passionate advocate of healthcare ecosystem improvements, Frank firmly believes that smart-tech is a must for brands to stay relevant to the consumer – and ultimately to survive.
We interviewed Frank to see where these waves in wearables and beyond will be made. In particular:
- What has had the biggest impact on growth in wearables
- The type of data analytics platform required to process wearable data
- How wearable tech will challenge current systems architecture
- The emerging technologies that will re-shape the industry
For a leaner, more efficient global business, DKNY knew they would need to overhaul their current IT systems architecture. They decided on a full enterprise wide suite of tools including PLM and ERP selecting RLM as a partner, and identified future projects that would arise given the magnitude of the transformation.
To ensure a successful implementation and subsequent systems integrations, they created a complete enterprise-wide system suite roadmap that would minimise disruption to the business, and provide a measurable ROI.
Now in the second phase of their company-wide roll out, VP of Wholesales Applications at DKNY, Cindy Payero shares how, alongside a series of changes to the business, they have been making this momentous change work and grow in tandem.
In this short interview, Cindy shares:
- How they structured communications 'bottom up' to stay on track with the implementation
- How a standardised communication process has been used to communicate new systems capabilites to users
- How the executive committee has worked with IT for a lean transition
- How they have measured the ROI of their transformation
- Which departments have been most influential in the transformation at the various stages
3D technology is a business and design enabler, and with the right tools in place you can improve lead time in today's age of instant gratification, efficiency where many brands are searching for ways to be more profitable, sustainability – a global agenda, and bringing it back to the consumer by enabling them to engage with the design process. However, many apparel brands haven’t embarked on the journey yet.
With that in mind, here are 5 tips to help you along your journey: