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Upstream Focus: Soorty’s Muhammad Mansoor Bilal on Sustainability Costs, Speed to Market & Sizing Flexibility

Upstream Focus is Sourcing Journal’s series of conversations with suppliers, associations and sourcing professionals to get their insights on the state of sourcing, innovations in manufacturing and how to improve operations. In this Q&A, Muhammad Mansoor Bilal, vice president marketing, research and innovation at denim manufacturer Soorty Enterprises, discusses why fashion should embrace digital sampling and how his company is reducing returns.

Muhammad Mansoor Bilal Soorty
Muhammad Mansoor Bilal, vice president marketing, research and innovation at Soorty Enterprises Courtesy

Name: Muhammad Mansoor Bilal

Title: Vice president marketing, research and innovation

Company: Soorty Enterprises

What’s the number one question you get from your clients now that was never really a consideration before?

Due to Covid, our buyers are concerned and they ask us how we are managing the operations and productivity.

Which processes have you put in place due to Covid that you’d like to see continue even after the health crisis is behind us? 

Digital 3D sampling has revolutionized the garment sample process. Along with the routine online meetings and presentations on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc., these digital tools have reduced the back-and-forth communication.

How are you evaluating potential brand and retail partners differently now compared to before the pandemic?

Consistency of payment is key due to the pandemic, and we are closely monitoring the credit rating of our esteemed customers.

What is the main thing brands and retailers could do (or stop doing) right now that would immediately improve product development?

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Online has significantly improved the product development process. Right now, things are moving on the fast track. I would suggest brands and retailers implement a digital sampling process, which is the way forward.

How are you adapting your operations to support quick-turn, small run orders?

To maintain the frequency of small orders, customers should focus on less variety of fabrics to maintain the MOQ (minimum order quantity).

In this challenging retail environment, how are you working with clients to balance sustainability needs with cost efficiency?

This is the most challenging scenario that we often encounter nowadays. Most of the sustainable fibers, fabrics and washing chemicals come with a sustainable material upcharge. It is a harsh reality, and we are all coping with it.

When it comes to quality and compliance, what are the biggest challenges?

No doubt quality and compliance are becoming challenging with passing time, but it’s manageable and controllable. In a company like Soorty, it is in our fundamentals, which we cannot compromise by any means. No brand will accept products that are less in quality by any means or produced in a noncompliant environment.

How has Covid-19 enhanced your remote collaboration capabilities? Which piece of technology or innovation have you found most useful during this time, and what remaining hurdles still exist in managing projects with limited travel?

Our 3D digital revolution helped us all around. We have developed skills for digital sampling at our 3D Evolution Studio, where we create digital samples, and our online digital library, where we present our new collections to brands and retailers.

What is the best decision your company has made in the last year?

Advanced financial planning and critical reviews of the material resources for any unforeseen circumstances, just like Covid.

What keeps you up at night?

Uncertainty of business due to the volatile situation during the pandemic.

What makes you most optimistic?

Our capability of being vertical and responsive towards the speed-to-market business model.

What’s in store for Soorty in 2021?

Our recent offering of ReSync fabrics and garments that are engineered, designed and crafted to be adaptive to minimize the industry’s waste. Providing jeans that fit no matter what will enable the industry to take a step toward environmental consciousness. ReSync will reduce returns of non-fitting online sales. It is adaptable to body types and can perform two sizes up and down. So even if you lose weight, or put some on, your favorite jeans will still fit.