The fashion industry is very complicated. There are no standard fashion companies. They come from a wide spectrum of enterprises working in the apparel, footwear, home textiles and accessories markets.
The industry is made up of various kinds of companies like retailers, design source and selling companies, companies with their own manufacturing facilities and other companies who outsource production but retain control over parts of the production process.
Moreover, companies functioning in the high fashion segment often face a different kind of pressure as compared to those functioning with commodity fashion goods.
All of these aspects combine to make the fashion industry one of the most complicated industry. Yet, various issues can be noticeably recognized as common across the industry.
. Consumers have the power
. Supply chains are complicated
. Product launching and delivery takes time
. Companies must be able to manage a product mix
. Inventory control maintenance is important
. Impact of the latest technology on the fashion industry
. Copyright issues for fashion designs
Consumers have more power
Today's buyers have more purchasing power then ever before and are less tolerant due to increased time pressure in today's lifestyles.
They are more aware about environmental and human rights issues and have superior quality demands. They demand a huge variety and more frequent changes in the choices available to them. Moreover, they also expect immediate availability of perfect matching set of garments and accessories in their preferred color and size combinations in the same store.
In terms of satisfying the consumer's needs, retailers are the first in line, but all companies in the supply chain are driven by the prerequisite to anticipate the expectations and requirements of their customers. From design to production and to the final sale, all members of the supply chain need to check that stores are stocked with the correct requirements when the consumer needs to buy!
The companies that are quick to respond to the consumer requirements are those that will remain profitable in an environment of rapid global competition and increasing material and operational costs.
Supply chains are complicated
The fashion industry is distinguished by global supply chains and complicated logistics. Labor and transportation costs often determine where production takes place and outsourcing of all or part of production is common. Companies throughout the industry have to deal with global sourcing problems and need to regularly evaluate their sourcing strategies.
Production work is often done across multiple places, which may be also located in different countries. Setting up of cutting, sewing, subcontracting and transportation, and the synchronization with raw material supply, is a very tedious process.
Product launching and delivery takes time
While working through the many pre production steps, including yarn or fabric selection, garment development, specification and sampling, the industry takes a long time to introduce a new product in the market.
Both, the complex nature of the supply chain and the global nature of production add to the industry's long lead times. This arrangement of long time-to-market and long lead times does not correlate with the need to react immediately to changes in customers requirements.
The ever changing seasonal and trend driven nature of the industry depicts that the product life cycles are too short. Even for cyclic demands where the life cycle may continue further, there are often small changes to design, and color or size combinations may be changed. The logistics of managing the large number of styles and maintaining stock keeping units is a difficult practice.
Companies must manage a product mix
Besides long lead times, fashion producers are stressed to constantly design and develop new product lines to maintain retailers' interest and increase consumer sales. Producers have noted that in order to maintain this speed, raised flexibility and quickness to satisfy changing customer demand, which is quicker than ever before, it is very challenging for them to judge or come out with such types of products. Gone are the days when a perfect fashion trend direction decided what consumers wore. At present, many styles are available, and with rising globalization, consumers can approach fashion news through latest media tools.
Fashion products change frequently, from hosiery and basic underwear through medium-priced high street brands, to exclusive high fashion brands. Managing brand awareness and brand loyalty is a serious task in retaining the position in the market. Margins in repetitive basic products are low, so neither a retailer nor a manufacturer can ever afford being out of stock.
Shifting to the high-end fashion sector, margins increase and sales volumes are lower, but consumers demand an ever changing range of choices, forcing the companies to produce multiple collections per year.
Many companies have to put in efforts to overcome the added challenge of arranging a mix of repetitive lines and collection-driven products, and a requirement to segment their product range and arrange the different segments in a suitable way. From design to demand planning, sourcing, production, distribution and sale, the demand of various product segments must be separately tackled if companies need to perform well.
Companies require clarity about the sector of the market they are targeting, and they have to direct their business in that way.
Inventory control management is important
Companies try to keep inventory levels at a minimum in all industries. In the fashion industry the requirement to maintain inventory levels under control is worst due to less product life cycle. In this industry, there is only one solution to sell the goods.
For collection-driven brands, the entire floor sets must be in the retail stores when these products are introduced, otherwise the chance to sell the goods is missed and obsolescence exposure is a high risk.
For the products that are frequently in demand, it is crucial that retailers and suppliers do not undergo stockouts. This part of the market does not possess the same level of brand loyalty, and customers may well be attracted to shift brands if the color and size they required is not immediately available in the stores when they need to buy.
For all companies, the balancing action of keeping inventory at the necessary level to fulfill demand, while ensuring that they are not left out with obsolete inventory, is a main problem.
Latest technological impact on fashion industry
Recently, the Burton Amp jacket, what is depicted as "the world's first and only wearable electronic jacket with an integrated Apple iPod" was introduced.
According to some fashion experts the clothes will soon turn into accessories for your gadgets. Today new technologies are much involved with clothing and apparels that you can not judge whether you are wearing technology or whether technology is wearing you?
Besides, electronics will keep decreasing in size to such an extent where we would no longer considerably need the objects to hold them. Hence, today the fashion industry is experiencing new challenges: "intelligent textiles", "smart clothes", "i-wear" and "fashion engineering" and are only a few of the trends which will transform the entire fashion industry within the next decade.
Nowadays, many new materials and technologies are applied in textiles and accessories when they are still too costly or primitive for other applications. A wide variety of electronic devices can already be made into clothes and this will rise. New fabrics are already being developed to offer power generation - by using solar power, electromagnetic, thermal and mechanical means.
The combination of high-technology into textiles, e.g. modern communication or monitoring systems or the development of new materials with new applications, has just begun, but the branch has already moved in a gigantic expansion for this sector. Particular applications for the health and security sector, e.g. clothes with extern monitoring systems, already today exist in a large quantity.
Within the coming few years, we'll see a lot more new applications in garments with latest technology. Hence, there are many designing challenges for fashion designers and engineers for making most demanding fashionable wears.
Copyright issues for fashion designs
Fashion apparel is a multi-billion dollar business that has no national boundaries due to its global existence. Designers, retailers and consumers decide their statements according to international fashion trends. In the last decade, consumer awareness of particular designers has also raised dramatically. Magazines and newspapers also cover the fashion industry as a part of their national news coverage, concentrating on the dynamic world of creative designer expressions.
The common man is very much aware about names and faces of fashion models and the designers for which they model. At present many television channels and feature films involve the fashion industry. Consumers can now identify the various types of designers and designs.
Today, many designers find inspiration from street fashion, celebrities, vintage styles and other designers' work. Even though there are possibilities of duplication in products and designs due to easy accessibility of the latest printing and computer technology, and due to appearance of the regional or traditional designs in apparels worldwide, it can not be ignored easily. It is really a challenging task to cope with this issue globally.