Real life disasters and what can be done to avoid the pitfalls.
Garment production issues can be damaging to your brand growth and sales. Some of them, such as poor quality or late deliveries, are very obvious, the other ones hinder in the background and are hard to pinpoint and rectify.
Here are two real life examples of my 1-2-1 clients, the state of their business when they approached me and the solutions to avoid such a mess.
The brand is 5 years old. Created a lot of buzz on the market and great PR coverage, but sales are inconsistent. Client retention is low and many returns.
At this stage, the brand should be generating healthy profits, yet it struggles to make ends meet.
The brand founder feels disheartened and lost faith in the brand’s commercial success.
A start-up brand trying to develop and manufacture their 1st collection.
The designer missed all the launch deadlines and overspent on the development budget. With the rising pressure from the investors and fear of missing more deadlines she moved into production with a not fully developed collection. The entire production experience was unpleasant to say the least. The designer is facing a dilemma: should she carry on this venture (and is it possible to make it less overwhelming and profitable) or should she call it off and use her funds to pay the investors back?
So what is the real problem?
Those are two completely different scenarios. What are the similarities?
On the surface its cash flow issues and the brand's success.
It probably is part of it but there are deeper issues that need addressing.
What are the problems?
I actually asked around to see what people think the real problems are. Many said it’s the management, a few put the blame on the factory. It’s close enough...but we need to look deeper….
The problem is the lack of a correct framework, product development and production structure.
In both cases, the most important step - preparation was missed out.
We all know that preventing the problem is cheaper than rectifying it later.
The prevention stage or preparation stage was missed out.
Many of you, like the brands in my example, have done the preparation stage- marketing research, creating your customer avatar, cashflow forecast, manufacturer research etc.. Unfortunately, one crucial element in all of these activities was missing. They approached the production from the marketing and financial perspective and forgot about the manufacturing side. This will leave huge gaps for mishaps. At the manufacturing stage, many crucial things can be left out which can leave a brand with not only a big chaotic headache but financially strapped.
Here are some practical tips you need to know to avoid the chaos:
Think about your size charts and grading rules. Don’t go with the flow and use your manufacturer's charts. It seems to be an easy solution but creates inconsistency within your production as you move from one manufacturer to another. If your customer bought a size 12 blouse from your store and fits perfectly, they will be back for more and would want to buy a complimenting pair of trousers or a blazer. Imagine their disappointment when all the items are not fitting as well as the blouse? You are not only facing returns from the client but most likely this customer will never come back to purchase from you again. When the customers are dropping after the first purchase and never return you end up on the hamster wheel of marketing and PR campaigns driving traffic to your store.
Do not skimp on money or time when planning product development. Quite often because of the time or budget restrictions the styles are not production ready. It affects the quality, cost of production and also creates a stressful production environment.
Thinking that you can do it all by yourself. It's a universally accepted truth - it’s impossible to know everything. Designers, in hope to fake until they make it venture into production and product development with appropriate support. The results are the examples above. Get the support you need and get the advice from experts that have done the journey already. If you don’t know anyone, we have support ready for you for whatever stage you might be in. Do it right from the start and you will save yourself lots of money and disappointments.
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I would like to share my experience as a high-end garment manufacturer. We have 5-10 newly created fashion brands knocking on the door of our sampling and production studio every day. Most of them are fashion entrepreneurs who have designed a fashion collection and are ready to start pattern making and sample sewing. They can't wait to start working on garment prototypes and are keen to bring their ideas to life. Unfortunately, most of them do not have a clear idea of how to do the manufacturing stage well.
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