While the sudden dive in consumer demand was frightening, it was also eye opening for a lot of apparel companies. And the smart brands and retailers are taking a second look at their relationships and operations. But to have the breathing room to reflect, you have to have had strong fundamentals going into the crisis. That’s definitely been the case for direct-to-consumer brand Aday.
The company, which focuses on quality over quantity, credits its ability to bob and weave with the fluctuations in both supply and demand to the relationships the team built around the globe in its formative years. As soon as the outbreak began, Nina Faulhaber, the label’s co-founder and co-CEO, said the brand starting shifting production between its factory partners in China, Italy, Portugal, L.A., and Turkey.
“We had built this incredibly strong partnership with all of them, and during the time they were shut down, we had the patience to wait for them. And when they reopened, they would prioritize us and also help us rejigger certain orders and plans because obviously, as a lot of other people as well, we have done a lot of rejiggling for 2020, in response to crisis times,” she said.
The strong ties Faulhaber’s team has forged is also helping them manage production remotely. She calls dealing with things like quality assurance from afar “the most challenging but also most interesting” part of adjusting to the new normal. “It is definitely a matter of constant communication and hopping on the phone as opposed to email only [and] being extremely dedicated to making this relationship work,” she said, adding the new arrangement is teaching everyone a thing or two. “Then on the sampling and getting products done side, it has been actually really fun and exciting, because we’re working on 3D sampling technologies, and our factories are coming up with these innovative ideas they wouldn’t have maybe otherwise.”
The company is also ahead of what could be a new trend in the industry and that’s producing seasonless offerings. As fashion brands around the world wrestle with what to about the dollars they have tied up in aging spring merchandise that didn’t sell, more and more of them could be contemplating also merchandising collections that can be worn for three or four seasons. “We’ve really, really benefited from the fact that we are seasonless… That was a huge benefit,” Faulhaber said. “Being able now to launch our pieces in July that were supposed to launch in April is really rare… If we had been committed to seasons and all of that, it would be a lot more difficult and we will be struggling with a lot more inventory.”
Along with the flexibility that comes from a diversified supply chain and a seasonless collection, the company also counts its strictly DTC status as a huge plus as well. While brick-and-mortar stores shuttered and then sputtered to reopen, e-commerce sales shot up across industries. And online fuels sales and interest in a way that brick-and-mortar might not, Faulhaber said. “And having [customers] on our platform is the most beautiful way of telling our brand story, and that’s the reason why we’re not doing any wholesale,” she said. E-commerce is also allowing Aday to expand beyond its U.S. roots with sales in Canada, Australia, the UK and Germany.
This video is part of a series Sourcing Journal created with support from Alibaba.com, which is delivering new ways to help businesses pivot to a more global and digital economy. Learn more about their Online Trade Show and other global supply chain services here.