The days of seeing winter coats in stores in July might be over.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the fashion industry was essentially forced to skip a season as a result of closed stores and paused production. Until then, the concept of “buy now, wear now”—offering timely styles rather than delivering a season ahead—was little more than a conversation that would ensue among fashion experts when discussing dreams for the future.
But now, some of those same experts see it as the only way to move forward. During the R/Evolution Sourcing Journal Summit on Thursday, Gary Wassner, CEO of Hilldun Corporation, described it as one of the positives to emerge from the pandemic—and that it could reset the industry to better align with supply chain and consumer needs.
“Frankly, seasons don’t make sense,” he said. “It’s a global industry, and it’s a different season everywhere you look.”
Climate change is another factor, he added, as it’s affecting how long seasons last.
Experts agreed that smaller, more frequent drops would solve a number of problems across the supply chain. Margaret Kutt, senior director of product development for Newtimes Group, noted that factories are currently struggling to ship their goods.
“Right now, everybody ships at the same time—logistics, shipping lanes, cargo, factories are all jammed—everyone is trying to get their goods out,” she said.
As a result, this is driving a willingness among factories to take smaller orders. For example, rather than a typical 10,000- or 20,000-piece order, they’re willing to accept a small batch of 2,000.
This opens doors for smaller brands that have struggled to meet the high minimums set by factories. Likewise, these same brands are benefitting from the industry’s shift to a digital sampling process.
Experts noted that the process of creating one sample using traditional methods can cost around $1,000 to $2,000 apiece. According to Wassner, these costs can wreak havoc on a small brand that lacks the funds and workforce required to produce numerous physical samples—and it’s in a store’s best interest to protect these smaller outfits.
“Just think about what that does to a small business; to a brand that does a couple of million dollars a year in sales,” he said. “And we have hundreds of those brands who make up the really cool sections of all of our department stores. So, they’re necessary—but [simpler processes] need to be put into place and they need to be adhered to.”
All the session’s from this year’s Sourcing Journal Summit, R/Evolution, are available on-demand for the first time. Follow this link for more information.