On Creating Right-Brained Fashion

Thank you FASHION STUDIES JOURNAL for publishing Andrea from Fashiondex’ article on running a fashion business with the right side of your brain! http://www.fashionstudiesjournal.org/commentary/2017/6/6/on-creating-right-brained-fashion

And a big thanks and shout out to Dr. Sherie McClam from Manhattanville College’s Education for Sustainability program…. thank you for making us think so critically!

On Creating Right-Brained Fashion

Many fashion brands and retailers are losing money these days. Department stores are closing and many clothing lines—from fast fashion, to bridge, to high-end designs—have experienced a year of losses. These brands were offered hope about a month ago at a costing seminar that was convened in Manhattan. I attended this future-thinking-type of seminar where costing factors were explained as a solution for the current fashion-retail woes. The message was: if you’re not sharply costing, you’re leaving money on the table. Of course, I don’t disagree with that—not at all; however, the seminar encouraged apparel executives from dozens of major brands and fashion retailers to look more critically at the standard allowed minutes (also known as SAMs or SVMs, short for standard value minutes) on their cost sheets. I have heard these terms countless times in my career, but lately, and perhaps disconcertingly, these quantitative terms have become principle drivers of style change itself.

Less stitching detail means less SAMs. Less SAMs equals less cost. 3.5 SAMs for a shirt translates to three and one-half minutes to complete the sewing of one shirt. Each serged side seam, attached neck band, and double-needle hem stitched is 0.5 SAMs (or 30 seconds each). A factory measures and calculates SAMs to determine their production capacity per day, per week, and per month. And brands analyze SAMs to cost and price their styles.

Sitting in this seminar, my mind wondered away from SAMs to cost sheets in general, then to income statements, then to top line, bottom line, mark-up formulas, assortment plans, time and action charts, analytics, tech packs, PLM, efficiency, and lead times. Over and over in my mind I saw today’s fashion practices, terminology, charts, graphs, sheets, and line plans. Wow, I thought to myself, “What kind of fashion people have we become?” We are an industry concentrating on SAMs, line efficiency, duty rates, data, and procedures. Yet, we are the fashionindustry. Shouldn’t we be focusing on creativity, mood, inspiration and flair? Shouldn’t we be pondering over beautiful details and gorgeous shapes as opposed to how can we simplify a style just to sew it in as little time as possible? I think to the practice of haute couture, where it takes hours, days…even weeks of hand-stitching to complete one dress… those rarified places in Paris, Italy, and London where art is created. Of course, mass market is stitch of a different thread, so to speak, but I wondered, could the mass-market manufacturers in this seminar learn something by looking more closely at couture design and its celebration of fashion, instead of more precisely calculating SAMs?

And eventually it came to me—the realization that truly nothing of value and longevity can be produced in 3.5 minutes. Nothing of beauty and resiliency can be produced by concentrating on data.  I realized the reason many retailers, malls, and manufacturers are floundering is not because they aren’t producing and shipping clothing styles fast enough, but because as an industry, we are running our businesses with numbers—with the left sides of our brains. We are the fashion industry. Shouldn’t we be running our companies with the right sides of our brains?

If you Google “Right Side Left Side Brain” a slew of results will come up. In a 2016 article on verywell.com, Kendra Sherry writes, “a person who is “right-brained” is said to be more intuitive, thoughtful, and subjective. Thus, if a “right-brained” individual is more intuitive and inherently more creative, doesn’t it follow that a “right-brained” company would be more intuitive, thoughtful, and perceptive, too? And wouldn’t a “right-brained” company, in being more subjective, be more in tune with their audience’s wants, need and moods? And therefore more successful?

Charts that compare the functions of the left and right sides of the brain further explain each side’s dominance. While the left side of the brain is preoccupied with reasoning, data-aggregation and analysis, planning, analytics and linear thinking, the right side of the brain, by contrast, is better equipped to process art, imagination, feelings, intuition, perception, creativity, and holistic thoughts.

In the quest to become more competitive and obtain more supply-chain control, we’ve left fashion design in the hands of left-minded thinkers.

Taking all of this into account, I wonder, are we doing ourselves and our customers a disservice by running our companies so strategically? Indeed, with all of our talk about improving current business models, sharpening costs, and focusing on sewing minutes, we’ve allowed the left side of our companies too much control. In the quest to become more competitive and obtain more supply-chain control, we’ve left fashion design in the hands of left-minded thinkers. Today, numbers, costs, and data are driving garment design, rather than creativity and imagination. Didn’t we enter the fashion industry to be creative? We should be spreading dreams and creating beautiful garments, not number-crunching. Perhaps this is why so many fashion businesses have been experiencing bottom-line losses these last few years.

Maybe this numerical, analytical, planned, and digitized thinking is why many fashion companies are failing. I also believe that exact type of thinking is why our businesses have had such a large negative impact environmentally and socially. If we were thinking holistically—with intuitiveness, feeling, and imagery—would we still have created a global fashion industry built on economies of scale and speed? Would the right sides of our brains allow us to pollute soil and water, exploit workers, and create products that more-often-than-not sell only when discounted?

The answer for me is a resounding no. The right sides of our brains have empathy. And the right sides of our brain consider values—not in terms of the bottom line, costing and price, but of human worth, community value and concern for all.

If we shift our businesses and allow the right sides of our brains to stand up and take charge, we might see that there are methods to produce clothing less focused on calculation, measuring SAMs, and data analysis and more centered on creativity, visualization, and integrated with compassion, not facts.

Sustainably-run companies recognize the interconnectedness of their business practices and processes with the people and the planet. They are systems thinkers, world viewers and right-brained. It takes visualization, emotion, and non-linear thinking to change a company’s ways and develop a business model with Earth, people, creativity, and art at its core. It might not look right on paper as we can’t measure human worth like we can a cost sheet, but as an industry we must consider our customers’ feelings. They care about our planet and are concerned with the future. They have no interest in our SAMs. Perhaps we should forego planning how fast a factory can produce for us—for that’s a left-brained way of thinking—and instead visualize how we can creatively design and bring a fashionable product to market. Using the right sides of our brains and reinventing the art of fashion is the right thing to do… for the planet, for our companies, for our customers, and, in the end, for our bottom lines.

Just Love the C&A Foundation!


by Circular Fibres on May 11, 2017

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation launches today a new initiative that brings together key industry stakeholders to build a circular economy for textiles, starting with clothing. The initiative is supported by a core philanthropic funder, C&A Foundation, core corporate partners H&M and NIKE, and a consortium of organisations including the Danish Fashion Institute, Fashion for Good, Cradle to Cradle and MISTRA Future Fashion. The announcement was made by Dame Ellen MacArthur at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit.

Participants in the Circular Fibres Initiative will work together to define a vision for a new global fibres system, which will address the significant drawbacks of the ‘take-make-dispose’ model currently dominating the industry. The new system for textiles will be based on the principles of a circular economy, generating growth that benefits citizens and businesses, while phasing out negative impacts such as waste and pollution – an economy fit for the 21st Century.

Textiles is the second global materials flow that the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has focussed on. In 2016, the Foundation launched the New Plastics Economy initiative, bringing together key stakeholders including leading businesses across the value chain, city authorities, intergovernmental organisations, scientists, designers and other innovators, to build a plastics system that works. The success of this first initiative, which includes two major reports presented at the Word Economic Forum in Davos, stakeholder workshops and significant media attention, has highlighted the importance of a pre-competitive, collaborative mindset amongst participants.

“At c, we support the production, uptake, and reuse of sustainable fibres. The Circular Fibres Initiative is important because it will establish the shared agenda and deep collaboration needed to shift the apparel industry to regenerative and sustaining business models.”

Executive Director, C&A Foundation Leslie Johnston

Fibres are an important part of today’s global economy: clothing production has doubled in the last 15 years, with sales of footwear and apparel reaching $1.67 trillion in 2016[1]. Meanwhile consumers keep their clothing for half the time that they did 15 years ago[2]. After use, only around 15% of apparel waste is collected in the US, while the remaining 85% ends up in landfill[3]. This characteristically linear economy, based on extractive and consumptive patterns, puts high demand on land, energy and other resources. The production and use of clothing accounts for around 3% of global CO2 emissions[4], and cotton production is now responsible for a quarter of worldwide insecticide use[5].

As a first step, the Circular Fibres Initiative will produce, with McKinsey & Co. as Knowledge Partner, an analysis of the textiles industry, mapping how textiles flow around the global economy, and the externalities that arise from the current system. It will explore what a new, circular economy for textiles – one that is restorative and regenerative – could look like, and lay out the steps needed to build it. The Initiative’s first report is due for publication in autumn 2017.

“The way we produce, use, and reprocess clothing today is inherently wasteful, and current rising demand increases the negative impacts. The Circular Fibres Initiative aims to catalyse change across the industry by creating an ambitious, fact-based vision for a new global textiles system, underpinned by circular economy principles, that has economic, environmental, and social benefits, and can operate successfully in the long term.”

– Dame Ellen MacArthur, Founder, Ellen MacArthur Foundation

“At C&A Foundation, we support the production, uptake, and reuse of sustainable fibres. The Circular Fibres Initiative is important because it will establish the shared agenda and deep collaboration needed to shift the apparel industry to regenerative and sustaining business models.”

– Leslie Johnston, Executive Director, C&A Foundation

“Our 100% circular vision and our goal to only use recycled or other sustainably sourced materials by 2030 plays a key role in our sustainability agenda. We are aware that our vision means a big change on how fashion is made and enjoyed today and if we want to take the lead in this challenge, collaboration and accelerating innovation and circular systems together with the industry is crucial. The Circular Fibers Initiative will define a shared vision for a new global textile system and it will be an important foundation for collaboration to accelerate the journey towards a circular textile industry.”

– Anna Gedda, Head of Sustainability, H&M Group


[1] www.qz.com/889672/sportswear-is-carrying-the-globa…

[2] www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability…

[3] www.weardonaterecycle.org

[4] Energy-related CO2 emissions, The Carbon Trust, International Carbon Flows – Clothing (2011)

[5] Yale Environment 360 (2016)

Notes to Editors

For enquiries please contact: 

Clare Mucklow, clare.mucklow@ellenmacarthurfoundation.org

About the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation was created in 2010 to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. The Foundation works across five areas: insight and analysis, business and government, education and training, systemic initiatives, and communication. With its Knowledge Partners (Arup, IDEO, McKinsey & Co., and SYSTEMIQ), and supported by Core Philanthropic Funder (SUN), the Foundation works to quantify the economic opportunity of a circular model and to develop approaches for capturing its value. The Foundation collaborates with its Global Partners (Danone, Google, H&M, Intesa Sanpaolo, NIKE, Inc., Philips, Renault, Unilever), and its CE100 network (businesses, universities, emerging innovators, governments, cities and affiliate organisations), to build capacity, explore collaboration opportunities and to develop circular business initiatives. By establishing platforms such as the New Plastics Economy initiative, the Foundation works to transform key material flows, applying a global, cross-sectoral, cross value chain approach that aims to effect systems change. Learn more at www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org.

Bravo CFDA on today’s article on the impact of a possible immigration policy on fashion…

04 10 17  by: MARC KARIMZADEH 

The innovation economy, industry growth, opportunities for international designers and investors in the U.S., and American jobs – just some key issues that will determine the future of American fashion.

On Monday morning, CFDA’s Chairwoman Diane von Furstenberg and President and CEO Steven Kolb, FWD.us President Todd Schulte, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, and New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito gathered at the CFDA {Fashion Incubator} to proudly unveil a joint CFDA and FWD.us report.

The report addresses the impact of immigration policy on the United States’ fashion industry, its role in creating American jobs, and changes needed to bolster the future health of the industry. Read the full report here.

Von Furstenberg recalled leaving Europe and arriving in New York with a suitcase full of little dresses. “Young people from all over the world come to America in search of those same opportunities, and young people with limitless talent and potential will continue building and innovating in our industry as long as we put in place immigration policies that allow the U.S. to remain a magnet for them,” she said.

The press conference was attended by several designers, among them Phillip Lim, Robert Geller, Maria Cornejo, Waris Ahluwalia, Sachin Ahluwalia, Maxwell Osborne, Dao-Yi Chow, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim.

Kolb added: “In order to continue the U.S.’ success and influence in the fashion industry, we must recruit the best talent from all over the world. If the United States wants to lead the world in fashion innovation, we need immigration policies that embrace the talented foreigners who come here to build and grow.”

The report outlines two hurdles impacting the fashion industry: access and retention of top talent, and the difficulty and high cost of navigating our badly broken immigration system. Among the recommendations, the report cites reforming and expanding the H-1B and O-1 high-skilled visas, creating a startup visa so that foreign-born entrepreneurs can build companies and create American jobs here, and establishing a process for hardworking undocumented immigrants to earn legal status after successfully passing a background check.

“We need to reform our immigration laws to protect American workers while boosting our ability to bring in the best and brightest from around the world so we can continue driving the U.S.’ global leadership in fashion and multiple other industries,” said FWD.us President Todd Schulte.

“Making it more difficult for skilled foreign workers in the fashion industry to enter the United States will make it harder for the industry to survive and will do irreparable harm our city’s economy,” said U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12).

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito underscored the report’s message that barriers for immigrants hurt the U.S. economy and weakens fashion businesses. As she put it, “It is essential to keep finding new ways to empower our immigrant communities.”


Original article here:



by: Andrea Kennedy

So you are thinking you want to take steps to become more sustainable. And maybe you’ve been thinking this way for awhile. So, what’s stopping you? Most often the answer is…. Cost.
Companies fear that moving to a more responsible design and production model will cost too much. They believe the customer will not pay more and they therefore will lose money. It’s really not possible, it’s thought by many, to be sustainable and profitable. Many businesses fear the expenses are too great in time and in dollars to research, initiate, and implement sustainable practices.

Photo byFabian Blank @blankerwahnsinn

Well…. yes, it certainly costs more to do things right. It costs more to pay workers fairly, to use natural or recycled fibers, and to inspect and audit factories. And, it does cost more per unit to manufacture with greener components and on the same hemisphere. But if we look away for the moment from the fact that each component and line item may cost more, and instead look at the total lowest cost, then things start to look different.
Just operating with less waste and more efficiency, which is the true essence of sustainability, will lower a company’s operating costs immediately. Efficiency and a no-waste commitment can be every company’s first step. And that costs nothing to implement! If you choose to use less energy, water and materials in your offices and supply-chain facilities, then immediately you will see usage rates decrease and will pay less in overhead costs.
This is an initiative already place at Mara Hoffman. Dana Davis, director of sustainability, notes they continuously strive to reduce energy consumption in the Mara Hoffman offices and on bright days work with the lights off and keep the windows open far into summer to consume less electricity. Lower usage bills have help offset some of the increased costs accrued in producing their responsible collection. This is something we all can do!
In terms of raw materials, with consumer environmental concern on the increase, and the waste of the fashion industry receiving so much media focus, it’s never been a better time to introduce responsibly-produced fibers, fabrics and trims. Organic, recycled, and low-impact fabric may cost on average 30-40% more per yard, but if you find innovative ways to use all leftover fabric scraps, you can balance the additional costs. For instance, companies can print on leftover fabric scrap squares and use as hangtags, then there is no longer a need to purchase cardstock tags. And utilizing all excess fabric and trim means less waste entering our factory-area landfills.
Companies can also cut all non-value adding (and wasteful) components from their practices and their cost sheets. Non-biodegradable items such as poly bags for buttons or individually plastic sleeves for garments can be omitted. In forcing themselves to commit to sustainability, companies are forced to think in more innovative ways, and although at first uncomfortable, innovation always leads us to more operating efficiency and cost-cutting practices.
Increased costs up front for using sustainable and responsible materials and production practices can save companies money in the long run, as customers are taking notice and staying loyal to green and sustainable companies. More and more businesses are showing positive financial performance, despite the increase in costs, due to an increase in sales. This growth in sales certainly balances the increase in cost of goods sold, especially if your overhead is lower due to decreased resource utilization, less waste and tax incentives.
Yes, tax incentives are another perk of sustainable business practices. State and local tax-breaks for businesses supporting environmental and human wellbeing initiatives are increasing every year, as well there are federal tax credits offered to US businesses for being energy-efficient.
A focus on sustainability equates to a competitive advantage like no other for those willing to go that extra mile to deliver responsible products. If you concentrate on the full value cost and not individual line-item costs, you will see that you can still be profitable while being sustainable. It may take a while, but if you are still doing business in the manner you have for the last ten-to-twenty years, then it is time for a change. As 66% of customers state that when given the choice they will select and pay more for sustainably-produced products manufactured by companies committed to positive social and environmental impact (Neilsens, 2016). And when surveyed this year in January, 78% of US consumers stated they “feel better” when they buy sustainably-produced products.  If you become a brand that is part of making a difference and no longer part of the problem, you will stand out to customers who are looking for products produced by companies that mirror their own concerns at this very moment in time. This will increase your sales, show in your bottom line, and create customer relationships for the long-term.
So you are thinking you want to take steps to become more sustainable. Don’t let costs stop you. The benefits of customers knowing you care and the advantage of customers thinking you are part of the solution, should help you realize that it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to practice sustainability, and that any additional monies spent to develop and produce your products are certainly worth eliminating waste and treating people and our planet with respect. These actions in turn build brand-respect, create greater perceptions of quality and value to your products… and will bring you business!Thank you Fashion Mannuscipt for publishing this article in Fashion Mannuscript, April 2017 edition

Trends for Success in Tomorrow’s Fashion Market

Written/Researched by: Andrea Kennedy. Edited by: Katie Marcus

Politically, everything is uncertain right now. But that’s nothing new for the ever-changing fashion industry, where trends, fabrics, technologies, and marketing tactics are constantly subject to major shifts. Fashion just doesn’t stand still, and as it works to accommodate consumers, our businesses should too. Therefore, to stay on top in the fashion industry, it’s crucial to be aware of the directions we are moving and to consider how to better plan, develop, source, produce, market and distribute to future markets.

With our fingers crossed for no dollars lost let’s move forward and react quickly, thoughtfully and right ahead of the trends.

Here are seven ways the world, consumers, technology and industry are shaking things up for fashion. We must consider what our businesses need to embrace and execute in order to stay relevant and profitable in tomorrow’s market. The seven trends are:

1- Peer Groups and Purchasing.

Generational marketing is more important than ever as we consider the three key cohort groups:

First, BabyBoomers. They are preparing to retire, taking on hobbies and vacationing more. What they purchase for the last third of their lives will not be on impulse and must be of value. They have money to spend, but do not require more belongings. They are streamlining what they own, downsizing their homes. We must work hard to capture what they buy and concentrate on value!

Second, Millennials, with their signature innovate and entrepreneurial spirit. They are grown up and becoming homeowners, who will soon begin saving for future families, which means less room for risk. We must stay innovative to keep them as loyal clientele.

Thirdly, Generation Z (also known as i-Gen). Having now entered college, this group continues to Instagram, Snapchat, and Lyft first, while shopping last. They are about showing the world where they’re at, not just what they have. They see their millennial siblings in debt, and prefer to keep their dollars close. We must offer them excitement and value to keep their interest.

These generational cohorts will buy, but it’s on us to design, develop and manufacture products that appeal to them. We will need to implement lean manufacturing techniques for smaller, higher-quality batches. Our customers will no longer shop for the short-term, they will insist on value and longevity, or they will not purchase.


2- Population and the Planet.

   It’s no secret that the world population is exploding, and is set to reach the 10 billion mark by 2050. Some estimates say that by 2040, one-third of our inhabitants will be extinct and many natural resources may be too. As our resources deplete, we must be conservative in our use of water, trees, oil, coal, and natural gas. We must be innovative in our development and creation of products, and plan and build new production facilities, so that they can be self-sufficient, closed loop and carbon neutral. Change starts with each of us, and the first step is to remove the old ways of “take-make-waste” from our thinking and practices.

Simply put, we have to produce more using less resources. As consumers become more aware of this global crisis, more will seek out and pay more for products created with responsible supply chains. Expect more requests for no-impact products, like recycled post-industrial or post-consumer fibers, or products made in wind, solar, tidal or man-powered factories, produced by companies doing business responsibly from end-to-end. The sooner you begin offering these ideas, the better off your business will be as sustainability becomes a major consumer focus.


3- Biometrics and Bluetooth.

   Now is the time for companies to invest in technology. Fashion is no longer separate from science, so let’s develop products with technical competitive advantages.

Biometric apparel can take us there: garments can serve important functions, like measuring heart rate, pulse, temperature, oxygen, hydration levels and more. Textiles and wearables can have reactive properties within flexible fibers that heat and cool us, keep us alert, and give us directions through GPS and Web-enabled components. When polled last month, 50% of males said they would purchase apparel that monitors heart rate and charges their mobile devices. This is up 25% from the previous year. Therefore, as health centers become overcrowded with aging baby-boomers, customers will seek garments that allows them to monitor themselves. Companies entering this market early will have a competitive advantage like no other.


4- 3-Dimension Ascension.

3-D printing allows for speed-to-market and takes us to the next level in consumer responsiveness. Product development turnaround has never been faster than with 3-D prototyping, sure to revolutionize our productivity.

Not just factories, schools, and design studios will have 3D printers. Within 4-5 years, having a 3-D printer in the house will be as common as having an inkjet printer today. We will print our own 3-D jewelry, clothing, and shoes. We will be 3-D bodyscanned for sizing in stores and designers will dive heavily into 3-D prototyping and fittings. Online Etailers will give 3-D fashion shows and you’ll be able to see how you look in a garment by trying it on in a virtual 3-D fitting room with a look-alike avatar. 3-D technology creates less waste, and for that reason alone, now is the time for companies to embrace this digital, 3-D movement.

5- Robotic Revolution.

As 3-D uptrends, so does robotics. Automation and robotic production has entered warehouses and the textile sides of the supply chain; and it’s also slowly entering our garment factories. This colossal shift in manufacturing is driven by advancements in automation technology, but also because worldwide raw materials laborers and factory workers are demanding fair and increased wages. Although manufacturers will have a large financial output in fully-automating their processes, the investment will lead to time and money saved, as no longer will companies need to pay to train unskilled workers. In a country like US, where factory jobs are undesirable to young college-bound persons, automated facilities can keep production domestic, and save the time and costs of outsourcing. Another perk: robotic workers will keep ticking around the clock and turnaround orders in hours, as opposed to days or weeks.

Robots and automatons will become more involved in textile and garment printing, cutting, dyeing, and embellishment. Sewing will soon become automated and remotely-programmable production lines will become the norm. At a time when capabiliti\es of mass customization and small batch orders are an advantage, robotic sewing and autoated production lines will be a deal breaker.


6- Speed-to-“Self-Serve”-Market.

Our fast-paced customers are accustomed to speed-to-market goods, and they want quicker response times. Allowing customers to serve themselves, may be the ultimate in delivering customer satisfaction. Although it requires a complete turn-around in operations, the few stores, such as Hointer, who deliver speed-to-market without retail staff are succeeding as customers flock and return. Peopl-eless stores make sense in today’s environment of cost-cutting and bottom-line focus. I-Genners and Millennials are instagramming about self-serve retail experiences and relish not being followed by a salesperson, or dealing with unfriendly retail staff. Although it is the exact opposite of the also-trending “Farmer’s Market” model, there is room for both. And with innovation, excitement and timesaving desired, those who convert to at least partial self-serve will find many early customers who will loyally return.


7- The Art and Craft of Fashion.

We have been engaged in a cycle of garment styles based off pattern blocks and an over-stocked assortment of basics at retail. Stores suffer because customers have more than enough button-fronts, tees and pullovers to dress themselves for their lifetimes. S/M/L/XL sizing is everywhere and nothing fits perfectly. This has created a cycle of markdowns and chargebacks that is unsustainable. Designers and manufacturers need to consider returning to the days of multiple fittings and again give attention to beautiful fit, detail, and diverse styling details to bring back the craft of fashion as art. A return to fashion as art will be welcomed by consumers who are showing they no longer wish to purchase an array of adaptations of the same styles.

It is time for freshness, innovation and an appreciation of the human craftsperson. Although the more detailed hand-worked processes will cost more, the customers will receive and perceive uniqueness, quality, art, and longevity… all of which our industry should have never lost.


It’s time to take the reins and shape the future of the fashion industry. Adapt too late and you may find yourself out of business. We must become change ambassadors and inspire ourselves and those around us for success in tomorrow’s ever-changing fashion world!


Thank you Fashion Mannuscript, for publishing this article in your March 2017 edition!

Trends for Tomorrow’s Fashion Industry- Part 3

We are up to trend 3!

Trend 3- Biometrics and Bluetooth.

As our world becomes more populated, our world, too, grows more high-tech. Now is the time for companies to invest in technology and join forces with science to develop products with a technical competitive advantage.

Just as the medical field introduces more self-monitoring services, we need our product managers and designers to
put their focus on more biometric apparel. Garments can and will more-so measure heart rate, pulse, temperature, oxygen and hydration levels and more. Textiles and wearables will have reactive properties that are enabled with flexible fibers that are knitted or woven into the fabric to heat us, cool us, keep us alert, and even give us directions through their GPS and Web-enabled components. When polled last month almost 50% of males stated they would purchase apparel that monitors heart rate and hydration and charges their mobile devices. This is up 25% from the previous year. Therefore, as more customers seek these garments for fitness, work, and leisure,
the companies who enter this market early will have a competitive advantage like no other.

Chart: Thanks to www.lifestylemonitor.cottoninc

Trends for Tomorrow’s Fashion Industry- Part 2

Trends for Tomorrow’s Fashion Industry- Part 2photo-1420745628365-ba93c07cb5ca

Population and the Planet.  At the same time as our three major cohort groups, mentioned in Trend One, are living their parallel lives…. more babies are being born and our world’s population is exploding to an unimaginable size.

With developing and newly-developing countries, such as India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Nigeria, each exponentially expanding their growth from 25% to 113% due to industrialization, we are headed for the 10 billion person mark by 2050.screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-9-38-17-am

Our rapidly-multiplying world is unstable and our planet is changing very fast. By 2040, one-third of our inhabitants will be extinct and our natural resources may be too. As these resources deplete, we must be cautious to not over-manufacture or over-use any important resource, such as: water, trees, oil, coal, or natural gas.

We must be innovative in our planning, development and creation of products, and plan and build new factories and production facilities, so that they can be self-sufficient, closed loop and climate neutral. We must become change ambassadors within our businesses and remove the old ways of “take-make-waste” from our thinking and our practices. With our planet’s population growing at massive rates, we have to produce for more people using less resources. And as more consumers become aware of the magnitude of our situation, more will in turn seek and be willing to pay more for products created with responsible supply chains. Our customers will further seek sustainability, authenticity and transparency, including production of products and request more no-impact products, such as recycled post-industrial or post-consumer fibers, or products made in wind, solar, tidal or man-powered factories, and produced by companies who are doing business with the goal of being fully responsible from end-to-end. Both consumers and companies will soon care that we all must reduce our impact and we must all make sure that no one or no resource suffers from our industry. This increasingly-shifting focus on caring for the planet will lead to transformation of our leadership and of our operations, products, and supply chains.


Population photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@jasonortego

Trends for Tomorrow’s Fashion Industry- Part 1

Trends to Succeed in Tomorrow’s Fashion Industry- Part 1

photo-1457972703743-4a6585c42ed8      The fashion industry is ever-changing. Nothing stands still. Not the trends, fabrics, colors, silhouettes, nor styles. Not the technology, production operations, nor our marketing strategies. Everything is changing…. just as our world is changing. All of these changes have great impacts on our businesses. Therefore, we must analyze the direction of our industry and consider our planning, development, sourcing, production, marketing and distribution for the future. With our fingers crossed for no dollars lost we shall march forward hoping we are reacting fast enough, smart enough and just the perfect distance ahead of the trends with each delivery.
So where will our ever-changing fashion industry lead us next?

There are seven directional shifts in which our world, consumers, technology, and the fashion industry are moving. We must consider each for our own businesses and ready ourselves to consider which trends we should address, embrace, strategize and execute in order to stay relevant, profitable, and successful in tomorrow’s global fashion market.           The seven trends will be posted in 7 posts on the Fashiondex blog.

Here is trend one::

1- Peer Groups and Purchasing.      

Generational marketing will be more important than ever with three key cohort groups.
First, one-quarter of our consumers, the baby boomers, shall prepare to retire, take on a hobby, and vacation more. What they purchase for the last third of their lives will A photo by Foto Sushi. unsplash.com/photos/6anudmpILw4not be on impulse and must be of value. They have money to spend, but do not require more
belongings. They are streamlining what they own and downsizing their homes. We must work hard to capture what they buy.
Second, the next quarter of our consumers, the millennials, are all grown up and will be becoming homeowners, and more set in their ways. We must be innovative to capture their entrepreneurial and technical spirits. As they grow, they will begin to take less risks, and they too will seek value as thephoto-1446421053596-b6801571b8bcy realize it is time to start saving for their future families. To attract their business, we must offer value plus personalization, and service their entitled images. If we do that, we can keep them as loyal clientele.
Thirdly, and another quarter, is our youth culture who inspires us. Generation Z
(or as demographers refer to them as the i-Gen). Generation Z is entering college and shall continue to Instagram, snapchat, and uber first, while shopping as a pastime last. Tgen-z-girl-2hey are about showing the world where they’re at, not what they have. They’ve seen their millennial siblings in debt, and prefer to keep their dollars close. We must offer them stimulation and value to get them to our channel, and once in- they want something unique that they can showoff in a selfie.
These generational cohorts all will buy, but not much, and to capture their purchases our products must be of value and be customize to them. As manufacturers we must design, develop and manufacture products that have personalization, value and quality built in from conception through every step of the supply chain. We will need to implement lean manufacturing techniques for smaller and higher-quality batches. Our customers will no longer shop for the short-term, they will insist on value and longevity, or they will not purchase.

Next post- is Trend two! Hope you all had a good holiday!

The research for the 7 trends were part of a presentation and assignment for S’s Global Business Management class at LIM College Global Fashion Supply Chain Management MPS program! SO FUN!

All photos from unsplash.com!


Thank you SourcingJournal.com!!!

Thank you so much to Tara Donaldson and Sourcing Journal Online for printing an Op-Ed from Andrea of Fashiondex!

We LOVE SourcingJournal.com!!!


Here it is… you can read here or direct at SJ at: https://sourcingjournalonline.com/could-strategic-fit-be-the-answer-to-sourcing-problems/

In the global fashion industry we hear so much, are taught so much and publish so much about strategic sourcing.

Additionally we discuss strategic pricing, strategic marketing, strategic buying, strategic planning and even strategic supply chain management. In 30 years of garment industry work, I have heard all these expressions countless times, and particularly more so in the last five to 10 years.

In all of this strategizing, we have created a cycle of fashion that is fast, price-driven, habit-forming and wasteful. We know this. That was our strategy—to speed it all up. And if we were to slow down, well, where in today’s computer-aided fashion production world that is sourcing, buying and planning so strategically would we slow down?

We have perfected the cycle with so many digital steps that just going slower doesn’t make sense. There is nothing strategic behind that. So, where, how and in what part of the cycle could we slow down? Well here’s a thought: How about we slow down in the fitting? In all this talk about strategy, why aren’t we talking about strategic fitting? We have an increasing number of consumers not finding clothing that fits. And what is the strategy behind that?

Fit is important. My generation was taught a quality garment should fit beautifully. In the ’80s we had a commitment to fit. We worked hard so that the clothing we manufactured fit well on the body in terms of size, comfort and contour. We learned a good-fitting garment will not slide, shift, pinch, pull, bag, droop, or hike. A good-fitting garment is flattering on the body; sits perfectly across the shoulders, around the neck, under the arm, at the waist, across the hips, through the crotch, and down the legs. Side seams must be perpendicular to the floor, waistlines parallel. No excess fabric should bring emphasis or direct the eye to any areas we do not wish to be emphasized. And, above all, a good-fitting garment should feel good on our bodies, putting on a well-fit garment feels truly special. That was our goal, and it took quite a bit of time.

I learned early on that regardless of your brand’s competitive advantage—without an attention to fit, you will get returns. The truth is we have lost our attention to fit and we are getting more returns.

In 2015 alone, $62.4 billion worth of apparel and footwear were returned due to incorrect sizing, according to a Body Labs report. Additionally, it is a fact that an increasing number of consumers are not finding clothing that fits. In a 2013 Iowa State University study, it was found that 63% of women questioned could not find clothing that fit well at retail, and 57% of women responded that they did not fit into today’s sizing standards.

In all this talk about strategy, why aren’t we talking about strategic fitting? Why are we satisfied with these stats? And, again, what is the strategy behind producing an increasing amount of clothing that does not fit?

The fact that so much clothing lining the racks of our retail stores does not fit well is yet another effect of fast fashion. We used to spend time making sure a garment fit well on the body before producing it. After our concept was designed, a patternmaker draped or drafted a pattern of our design by hand—for a fit model, whose body was measured by hand. A sample was made, we put the sample on a fit model and he or she told us how it felt. We revised the fit based on how they felt and what we saw, and advised our list of corrections to our patternmaker. The patternmaker adjusted the pattern accordingly, a revised sample was created, we put that new sample on a fit model, and he or she told us how it felt, we corrected the fit again and worked with our patternmaker again. The cycle went on until we got the fit perfect.

The average amount of samples created back then was five. Yes, that is quite a number, however what arrived at retail, for the most part, fit beautifully.

Quite different in comparison to today’s strategic sourcing model, where the factory handles many of the steps we had so lovingly performed in our designer sample rooms. Add to this, the fact that many of the new steps are completed with technology. Therefore, in terms of fit, many of the fitting steps are now completed either off-site or in the cloud. Bodies can now be measured with 3-D body scanners. Computerized patterns are created in CAD and pattern pieces can be virtually assembled on the screen and even viewed on a virtual model or avatar where you can revise the fit there. Move the waistline up, the virtual pattern pieces are corrected. A sample is then cut and sewn for one formal (and final) fitting- at times, still on a live fit model or at times on a dress form, whose measurements are based on 3-D body scans.

The fact is that a real fit model is rarely putting on and commenting on how to correct the fit. If this is done, there is only one fitting, where corrections are noted, advised, corrected in CAD, and then off the garment style goes straight to production. Yes, the garment arrives in the store fast and cheap—that is the goal, but the garment does not fit beautifully. It cannot, due to the time necessary for a great fit was not invested.

An industry focus on strategic fitting could help reduce the increased returns, as well as the increased retailer markdowns and chargebacks that are caused due to the changes technology has created in the fitting segment of the production cycle. We must consider the longevity of our product. In all our talk of sustainability, we must look at fitting as well. This segment of the cycle causes clothing to be disposable and is therefore another of the many reasons our landfills are rapidly filling up with clothing that is bought and discarded after an average of five wears.

And a look at the future of fashion software shows yet more advancements in cloud-based CAD services in terms of more sophisticated patternmaking, fitting, and avatar usage. The result is fit may suffer more, as when we view a garment on a 3-D dress form or on a virtual model, we lose the human touch. The human who was trying on the garment, was standing, moving, and sitting in that garment, who advised us if the back neck felt uncomfortable, or the armholes felt high, or the pockets were too shallow. We are losing that personalization and interconnectedness with our garments.

With fitting just one sample—instead of the previous five, whether we put a garment on a human or not—we miss the opportunity to fine tune a pattern and attend to the details big and small that create a garment that feels so good on the body. Along with fit, we also lose a great deal of styling, as without an exquisite attention to fit, we cannot create styling that is exquisite. That type of styling takes time and takes samples; so rather we choose to create an excessive amount of variations of the basic styling.

We need to truly consider how we fit our garments. We need to consider how to bring back the art of fit and the art of a fit model. The time, staff and money to create three, four, or five fit samples per style is a cost we do not want to spend, but maybe being strategic here is the ultimate strategy to save our businesses.

Strategic fitting needs to be done locally, close to design. Perhaps we need to create and encourage the use of collaborative centrally-located sample rooms, with shared patternmakers and fit models, who can be booked by the season, style, day, or hour. Or could we conceivably ask our factory groups to set up small local sample rooms, where they can directly handle the patternmaking, sample making and fitting stages of the goods they will be producing, where we are close by and can comment on the fit through a rapid series of fit samples. Can we do this? Those are two options where the costs could be shared, the time of samples going back and forth could be reduced, and we could focus on fit. If we take back this part of the cycle, the clothing will cost a tad more and the cycle may take longer, but the consumer will have a selection of good-fitting garments, which two-thirds of customers do not feel they have now.

Producing beautifully-fitting designs is just as sustainable as using less pesticides, conserving energy, and paying fair wages to our overseas sewers. Producing beautifully-fitting designs will create less returns, less chargebacks and more pleased consumers who will keep their clothing longer because they appreciate the flattering fit. As you sit and strategically source, market and plan your next line, consider strategically fitting this next line as well. Your customers and our earth will thank you.


By Andrea Kennedy, founder of Fashiondex, Inc., fashiondex.com. Andrea will be exploring this subject further with a presentation and discussion at the LIM College: Fashion Now and Then Conference, New York, NY Oct. 21, 2016: http://fashionnowandthen.blogspot.com/p/schedule_5.html

More Logistics 101!

The question…. Discuss and elaborate on the following statement: “The selection of a superior location network can create substantial competitive advantage.”

A superior location network is an element of Facility Network Design, and involves continuously assembling and modifying your facility network in order to react to supply and demand. It involves continuously evaluating the number, location, and ownership arrangements of all types of facilities required to deliver exceptional logistics work, and being flexible and successfully reacting to the fact that products, styles, customers, and manufacturing requirements are constantly changing. You can succeed and have a competitive advantage with these changes when you have a superior location network in place.