The days of waiting months to try on a new item of clothing launched at a fashion show may be coming to an end.
Burberry, the British fashion house, is trying to shake up the industry by making its biannual collections available to both on its online stores and retail outlets worldwide as it is unveiled on the runway.
For the logistics industry, these developments mean that collections will be mass produced to coincide with the fashion show, so fabrics, trims and embroidery will be sent to manufacturers as they leave the designer’s desk. Once manufacturing is completed, finished items will be delivered to retail outlets worldwide.
There have been other significant shifts in the fashion supply chain in recent years according to Lee-ming Chan, Global Head of Global Strategic Customers, Toll Global Forwarding.
“Online retailers have driven the changes in the ‘fast fashion’ industry as they can arrange door-to-door delivery of garments such as t-shirts and accessories. Then the mid-range retailers change their stock on a monthly basis, meaning new items moving through supply chain more regularly,” he said.
Many retailers now have ‘store ready’ containers prepared at origin and delivered from China or Mexico directly to the retail outlet, bypassing the distribution centres, thereby saving time and providing the flexibility needed to respond to ever-changing customer demands.
“We are seeing smaller quantities of fashion items moving through the supply chain but on a more frequent basis. We, as logistics services providers, have to be agile and flexible to manage the process.”
From a regional perspective, Lee-ming still sees China and Japan as leading buyers of fashion goods in Asia. China is also a leading global manufacturer of fashion items but there have been some manufacturers establishing production facilities in other Asian countries.
“There has been a shift in fast fashion manufacturing from China to Bangladesh, Vietnam, Cambodia, and in a small way in Myanmar, as manufacturers take advantage of cheaper land and labour costs as well as generous garment quotas to the US and Europe.”
China though, has a mature fashion and garment manufacturing sector with supplier clusters established in cities across the country, providing fashion houses with the flexibility and speed of producing new lines and delivering them to market with shorter lead times.
For the big picture in the retail sector, the UN estimated that that in 2015 there were 22 mega-cities with populations over 10 million; 12 of those cities are in Asia. The new affluent urbanites are fuelling a rise in discretionary spending, triggering investment in the development of modern retail outlets and in urban infrastructure. In turn, the new, modern retail space will bring new retailers to the region, according to a report published jointly by PwC and The Economist.
Based on the same report, looking into the global Fashion and Retail sector, expenditure is set to reach US$340bn by 2018; and in the same year China will account for one-third of regional demand for clothing. If footwear is added into the equation, then the regional expenditure will be US$920bn.