Turmoil in the global supply chain has caused apparel brands to rethink how they approach their business models, shipping priorities, launch cadence and even the venues where they debut upcoming product lines.
Full Turn Custom Apparel, a custom and luxury apparel company servicing more than 1,000 retail customers across North America, Asia and Europe, has undergone some of these changes, implementing its “FastTurn” merchandising strategy in 2021, expanding its new line breaks per year from two to nine.
“The market has become much more immediate,” said Mark Killeen, CEO of Full Turn Custom Apparel. “Through the past year, in particular, that even accelerated where customers are looking for goods, more often and more quickly, based upon having an immediate open-to-buy because nobody really can plan anymore. The sense of open-to-buy planning, which used to be something that we could all relatively efficiently project, just is not really possible in these times. All of a sudden, [clients] have a need and they need it filled.”
Full Turn will introduce two new line breaks on Jan. 3, 2022. In collaboration with its regional sales reps, the home office will help orchestrate product reviews over Zoom and write orders using online catalog and ordering tool RepSpark.
“In each line break, there’s an order opening window that corresponds to an order ship window, and there’s one month in between the end of the order window and the start of the ship window,” Killeen told Sourcing Journal. “The whole goal was to literally pre-sell 100 percent of what we’re producing.”
To expedite the line breaks, all overseas production in sourcing countries such as Thailand, South Korea, China and Peru will now be air shipped to Full Turn’s San Leandro, Calif. finishing center. This has naturally come at an added cost. Killeen told Sourcing Journal the before the pandemic air freight cost about 40 cents per garment, but has since jumped to more than $5 per item.
In addition to the new fashion line breaks, Full Turn’s evergreen in-stock catalog is being replenished with 22 styles in color and inventory that will be available for immediate shipping. Brands can fully customize any of these products with a small 12-unit embroidery minimum.
“One of the one of the positive aspects of the market right now is that printed garments are really popular,” Killeen said. “Men’s apparel, for example, used to be a solid and striped business, and now favors color and print designs. Some of these patterns and color combinations are spectacular. You can now print that on a golf shirt or a quarter zip, use it as a lining in a jacket, and it looks fantastic.”
Overall, the styles include elevated apparel for both men and women, including polo shirts, pullovers and sweatshirts, sweaters, outerwear and even its own branded DistanZ face masks and gaiters.
While Full Turn is putting its foot on the gas to get more product out to the consumer, the custom manufacturer didn’t want to pass higher prices along to retail partners and in turn, end consumers, as this could potentially limit how many SKUs it would sell.
So instead of increasing product prices, the company opted to skip out on the upcoming 2022 PGA Show in Orlando, Fla.
A mainstay at the event for 15 years through 2020, Full Turn spent an estimated $250,000 dollars per year preparing for the PGA Show, making it the company’s largest individual line item cost annually. But now, the company is leveraging the collaboration technologies it onboarded during the pandemic to further nurture relationships between sales reps and partner retailers.
“We can connect with customers, and we are doing it every single day on Zoom in our showrooms,” Killeen said. “In every case, we run the Zoom out of our showroom, which means we can showcase our sample line here. The customer ends up getting a better presentation, particularly those that already know our fabrication to know our quality. It’s not so much of a touch and feel, it’s more of a look and color now.”
Killeen noted that Full Turn’s sales reps would see as many as 400 customers in the two-and-a-half-day PGA Show, and that the in-person interaction would “be really hard for us to replicate.”
Full Turn aims to cater to all kinds of retail businesses, with the manufacturer selling product in single-door specialty stores, college and university bookstores and arenas, as well as golf resorts with 15 to 20 locations. The company even customizes apparel for professional sports teams and corporate businesses, and offers services such as embroidering, screen printing and logo development.
And to accommodate its various clients, the company aims to be flexible by offering complete collections of garments across all its product categories, with no minimum order requirements.
“Part of the no-minimum concept that we started the company with, is that specialty stores buy special product, and they like to buy in collection format. They don’t buy like a department store that’s going to fill a 12-foot table with baby cable sweaters in 12 colors. In most cases, we’re seeing more orders coming through, but smaller orders more often. Instead of buying 24 units of color, in the specialty stores, they might buy 12 units of color, but they’re bringing in two or three deliveries.”