The Importance of Flexibility (Part I of III)
December 1, 2017
In this installment of the Impactiva Interview Series, we’re talking with Apparel Business Unit Leader Patrick McGinty, an apparel sourcing and manufacturing expert with more than 40 years of garment production experience.
Patrick shares his insights on the garment-making process and challenges in meeting consumer expectations. He discusses the importance of brands and garment manufacturers working together to adapt to market conditions, as well as articulate their demand chain in four key areas: flexibility, quality, speed, and engaged employees. In part one of this four-part series, Patrick addresses flexibility.
Q: Much has been made of rapid changes in consumer preferences, prompting brands and retailers to consider redesigning their operations to more quickly produce new designs. One option is to produce smaller orders of more styles, but can large factories be sustainable when doing this?
A: Large factories have limitations and substantial cost challenges when reverting to small fashion runs, making them reluctant to do so.
Consider an optimal factory scenario: an average production line safely produces approximately 10,000 pieces per month, with one or two style changeovers in that period (possibly even a third in the last week). Assuming the factory hits their target efficiency rate, this scenario allows them to operate the line at a profitable level by producing 10 or more garments per operator per day, with reasonable quality.
Years of manufacturing experience have taught factory operators that this is the best way to achieve efficiency and profitability. But, their customers also have this knowledge, which they use to drive down the factory’s product cost. Since there are no secrets in this scenario, customers leverage large order quantities as a bargaining chip to gain competitive prices.