June 18, 2019
The latest Product Innovation Apparel conference took place in New York last June and gathered some of the most interesting leaders of product development in fashion. There, Sayam Kochar CMO of Techpacker sat down with three leaders of apparel innovation and technology fields, Irene Mak, Vice-president of technical design for One Jeanswear Group; Jon Silverman, Vice-president and head of global sales for Joor and Ryan Teng, Vice-president of business development for CLO Virtual Fashion.
First, let’s get a bit of context on each of the companies led by the guests at the panel and better understand the role they play and why they are so important to the fast-evolving apparel landscape:
One Jeanswear Group designs, markets, produces and distributes denim garments for a series of recognized private labels and brands in the United States like Gloria Vanderbilt, Vintage America, and Nine West, to name but a few.
Joor is a cloud-based platform that enables brands and retailers to work in a single collaborative space where they have access to crucial like the vital metrics that drive their business in real-time. This way they can leverage trends as they develop and work together to grasp emerging opportunities.
CLO Virtual Fashion is a company specializing in 3D garment simulation technology which is used to create virtual garments and provides valuable data about designs and trends. They also offer apparel design tools that include a virtual closet, virtual fitting platforms, communications and archiving platforms for virtual garments and more.
Changing, digital and fast. These were the three adjectives used by the fashion executives of some major fashion brands when they were asked to describe the state of the fashion industry in 2018 for The Business of Fashion and McKinsey annual state of fashion report.
Indeed, manual tech packs, for instance, are more and more becoming a thing of the past. This is especially true now that there will exist the possibility of integrating digital tech pack solutions with other new exciting apparel product development technologies. Now more than ever, the tech pack remains an essential tool of product development between manufacturers and brands, as Sayam Kochar points out.
Irene Mak Agrees, “I consider the tech pack, the contract between us and the vendor. So everything that lives in the tech pack is what the requirements are, and it holds them to be honest and to perform for us and to produce what we're asking.”
But she highlighted how tech packs evolved through the years, thanks to (product life cycle management) PLMs which allow for data input in the system and also the sharing of the platform and cross all of the businesses.
“I consider the tech pack, the contract between us and the vendor. So everything that lives in the tech pack is what the requirements are, and it holds them to be honest and to perform for us and to produce what we're asking.”-Irene Mak
She explains that assets, which are now digital assets are still key, “So I'm really looking forward to continuing to build out what PLM represents, what the tech pack means to doing business,” she added.
For doing business PLMs and cloud software for tech packs pulling all the information together in one place. It evens the sampling process around one single source of truth.
In this sense, 3D technology is also playing a major role right now in visualizing and virtualizing the sampling process to help brands be more sustainable in time, energy, efforts, and costs.
As 3D technology emerges, it houses all the data of the color palette, the body information, the specifics of the garment on the body and off the body. “It has way more information than lot of people give it credit for, says Teng, adding that it saves all participants of the process from miscommunication issues.
As Teng explained, “3D has a lot of metadata, so all that information is already there,” he says. He goes on to explain that the integration of technologies to optimize production and supply chain speed are ultimately about the flow of the data and how we want to use that data. “Where do you want the data to go?” he adds.
But as Kochar notes, it’s important to understand that the idea of bringing all of these technologies is to work together around the notion of a flexible PLM environment that is connected through integrations. It’s not about simply embracing a PLM or cloud tech pack software like Techpacker.
It’s important to understand that the idea of bringing all of these technologies is to work together around the notion of a flexible PLM environment that is connected through integrations.-Sayam Kochar
It’s about how many different product development technologies could come together and have a flow of information and data and adaptability that enables a quick response and efficiency of work, production and even marketing.
Take for example the case of how Joor operates for jewelers, as Silverman explains, data integration it’s possible to fuel a marketing or advertising campaign as they can access sell-through data from the retailers. Clients don't just have the wholesale sales data, but also end-customer data. This also enables to form the customer's desires and reorders.
“The ability to provide that feedback can now be all centralized and sent back in real-time so that faster and easier and better decisions can be made. That will eliminate a lot of waste and increase top margin sales, which is the goal,” said Silverman.
The next step of that is to bring in other software and tools from a brand's repertoire to be able to influence all of that at every step of the supply chain. This goes from creating the line sheet to determining what styles are going to sell best, etc. Then, finally seeing how the end customer and the retailer are responding to the product. Every one of those steps now we'll be able to influence a future tech pack.
Irene believes that looking at replenishment is a big deal but that she thinks it’s also about being constantly informed of what’s happening in the product development world and “be able to feed information out through the digital platforms.” Silverman agreed saying “The ability to have real-time data is vital”.
To facilitate, speed to market and lean product development processes, PLM plays a huge role in centralizing the data, which is otherwise scattered out and disconnected systems and spreadsheets. So this is where innovative technologies come in, like CLO, JOOR, and Techpacker, for example, which built vertically and provided solutions for that.
Mak believes these technologies do not only centralize data but also enable flexible sourcing. This is because sending a tech pack out with as much data as possible allows for the designer and teams to react and see what’s available instantly in different parts of the world and decide on the spot. They’re able to “react to it and be able to produce for you, making the sourcing and approval process quicker.”
Mak believes these approaches to product development are increasingly necessary. It’s not optional anymore to survive. This is why Teng mentions that for CLO they try to make the software flexible to our other platforms. And that he’s seen some companies, which are even using technology in a way different from what was intended.
“It's all based on us listening to the needs of the consumer and the customer and the companies and everyone combined together,” he says. He believes companies have to be flexible because “you don’t fully understand what you need yet and we won't know what you need until we crossed that road.”
He thinks that part of the key is gradual flexibility and that “it is really the main staple of how this industry is going to continue to move forward.”
Indeed, embracing this idea of flexibility through integration, modern-day brands have a chance to connect and pass the data through these specialized technologies swiftly and effectively without getting trapped in legacy systems of conventional PLMs.
Moreover, this also gives small and medium fashion businesses the opportunity to be able to adopt certain technologies in their product life-cycle workflows as needed or desired. This allows for a much smoother scaling-up process as the business grows because they can easily integrate their current data with other specialized technologies.