Recently, there have been a myriad of gadgets that are visibly boosted by technology. Such as: fridges with cameras that let you see what’s inside remotely so you don’t forget anything, magnets that let you create grocery lists and sync up with your apps, crockpots that can have their temperature adjusted or be shut off from your smart device at work, and much more. One area of the house that doesn’t seem so technologically affected at first sight though is the closet. Most of the closets in American households are basic enclosures that can hold apparel and footwear, with variations of space, storage options, and luxury levels. But still, none of that seems like it has to do with technology, yet.
The truth of the matter is that much like the speech Miranda Priestly gives Andy in The Devil Wears Prada where she tells her that even though she doesn’t think fashion affects her it actually does, technology has been slowly permeating into the runways of the world and our closets for a while now, even if we haven’t realized it. The rise of online shopping and online sizing guides has put thousands of businesses into panic mode, closing down stores all around the world as they compete with smaller online boutique retailers that have popped up seemingly out of nowhere. Clothing designers have tried to shrink down the production line time from idea conception to when the item hits the racks, and it’s now down to just days. For clothing stores that can’t manage that type of speed, chances are they’ll have to strut away into business oblivion. The good news? There is already technology for the fashion and apparel industry out there.
So, how else is technology hanging on to our clothing racks? One of the biggest ways in which we’ll see companies innovate in order to stay afloat is with custom or tailored sizing offerings to customers. For example, this shoe store in China leverages intelligent SAP software to create the perfect shoe for customers - from custom measurement to delivery in just one week. It’s a marvel that through Intelligent Enterprise technologies like machine learning and virtual reality, retailers can now get a more accurate reading than ever into sizing, proportions, custom needs, desired trends, etc. They’re now able to produce items that are much more aligned to the customers’ wants, making them loyal to the brand and a constant investor.
A retailer that attempted to do this but wasn’t as successful is the creator of the “Zozo” suit in Japan. Through the use of a suit with dots (almost like the suits you see actors wear for CGI capturing in movies) and a smartphone application, users would be able to take pictures of themselves which would yield their exact measurements so that the company could create tailored items for them that they would receive in two weeks. The problem is that the company overshot their promises, sent out too many suits, got faulty measurements (the human error component is hard to miss here, with very precise instructions required to fulfill an order accurately), failed on production/delivery deadlines, and overall ended up on a loss. The company is still functioning within Japan and gathered enough sizing information to create better garments in the future, but there are probably many others already trying to perfect the idea to be the first to launch with success. Imagine what they could accomplish with the right software in hand?
An industry leader that won’t give up so easily to newcomers is Spanish apparel giant Zara. From the get-go, Zara was considered the pioneer of the fast-fashion concept back in the 80s, and set the tone for what an agile supply chain in the fashion industry should look like. Today, with many companies quickly replicating celebrity outfits within a two-week timeframe (and one in particular doing it in 24 hours), the competition is fiercer and faster than ever. Apparel designers need to look at consumer behavior, influencer posts, material availability, turnaround time, price points, deliveries, etc. and turn that data into forecasts to design accordingly. Zara is currently engaged in leveraging the power of technology to improve and innovate on their processes, from design all the way up to production and shopping.
The apparel industry is heading in the direction of speed and convenience, and it’s getting there faster each day. To remain competitive and viable, clothing stores and apparel and footwear manufacturers need to have their hand on the pulse of the shoppers more than ever before, and act based on their wants and needs. With the right suite of fashion and apparel solutions that take care of everything between Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), customer relationship and supply chain management, apparel makers will have the best shot at long-term sustainability and success. This is the Intelligent Enterprise, tailor-made for the fashion world. Our team of experts at Sapphire Systems is ready to help answer any questions that will turn your fast-fashion business needs into fast innovation, so just contact us.
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