The apparel & fashion industry transforms a creative vision into something tangible and profitable. Unfortunately, the apparel product development process takes place in a disconnected environment. Suppose a designer wants to make some updates to a garment and sends the details to the manufacturer. The designer is not sure if the important information will reach the right person because of the inefficient systems and tools that they use every day. The product development team works to give their best, but the disconnected systems do not give them a chance to contribute to their full potential.  

What if apparel & fashion companies can bridge these gaps to form a strong, reinforced network and create community across development? 

Well, it is possible to bridge the gaps and enable effective collaboration between the brands and the factories. In this article, let’s explore how brands and factories can collaborate effectively using various technologies.  

How does collaboration between brands & factories take place?  

Collaboration between brands & factories happens in three stages, namely, the product development stage, the pre-production process, and the manufacturing stage. Let’s explore each of them:  

1. Identify the right Vendor/Factory

The first step toward manufacturing a garment is to find the right vendor/factory that can accommodate the ideas. Apparel brands need to analyze the factory conditions, sustainability practices, the labor conditions and ensure that the factories are following all the norms of manufacturing.   

2. Product Development Stage

After identifying the right vendor, the next step is the product development stage where brands collaborate with vendors to create samples. Creating a sample allows a designer to evaluate the texture and drape of the fabric, as well as to test the overall concept of the design. During the sample creation process, many alterations, adding comments, and creating design annotations will take place back and forth. Solutions like PLM & 3D design software will ease the sample creation process by offering seamless collaboration between brands and vendors.

3. Pre-Production Process

The third stage is the pre-production stage where all the changes made to the design need to be tracked. Additionally, the cost of the garment should also be finalized during this stage. Vendors who produce the garment need to collaborate with suppliers to get the raw materials. Solutions like PLM & 3D design software manage conversations between the two parties all in one place, cutting down on search time and improving efficiency.

4. Manufacturing Process

The manufacturing process includes:  

  • Production Planning: Production planning involves the scheduling and completion of each step in the production process, from ordering the needed materials to delivering each finished product.  
  • Payment Terms: In the garment industry, payment terms vary. Traditionally, the manufacturer would receive 60-70% of the order value of goods being manufactured. The manufacturer used this amount to buy raw materials and trims for production. Buyers sometimes present a Letter of Credit to the manufacturer where a bank guarantees that a particular seller will receive the money from a particular buyer. Recently, a Sales Contract has been a popular payment system in the garment production industry; using this system, clothing manufacturers rely on their buyers’ Purchase Orders.
  • On-time Delivery: Shorter lead times between ordering and delivery are a trend in the apparel & fashion industry. Factories that can meet short lead times have a competitive advantage. 

Wrapping Up 

Collaboration between brands and factories is complex. Both sides must communicate regularly and efficiently in order for production to run smoothly. The vital parts of the process are: implementing a fully-integrated supply chain; establishing a good working relationship between the two; preparing a factory-ready Tech Pack; managing the production processes and legal aspects. 

If you’re willing to implement a fully-integrated supply chain for your apparel & fashion business, then reach out to us for a free consultation.  

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