Clothing designers, fabric and finished garment producers, transportation providers, distributors, and direct-to-consumer retailers are part of the apparel fashion supply chain. The fashion supply chain in the fashion industry is divided into five key links:
Fashion designers select fabrics, trimmings, fits, and finishes for clothing items and meticulously plan each silhouette. They frequently develop versions of current trending styles or design unique runway pieces that define the new trends. In addition, designers are often in charge of the remainder of the supply chain.
2. Textile Manufacturing
Each garment needs raw materials; thus, textile manufacturing is important. Textile manufacturers weave, dye, and spin fabric and additional materials for the final product.
3. Apparel Manufacturing
Garment makers follow the instructions of designers to cut and sew the fabric into wearable pieces.
The distribution phase is complicated because manufacturers produce raw materials and finished garments worldwide and then import them into essential markets.
Manufacturers deliver to stores or use a distribution center serving many retailers. The key to a successful distribution chain is organization. A well-organized supply chain has thorough tracking, allowing businesses to manage and optimize transportation and stay on top of inventory management.
5. End-user Purchase
Finally, a buyer purchases the item ending the supply chain. They can buy it from a physical store, shop online, or use the “buy online, pick up in-store” (BOPUS) option. This segment is dependent on logistics and transportation management.
The primary drivers of the fashion supply chain strategy are market forecasts and projections. The manufacturers and designers make the textiles and garments in anticipation of future demand. Then, the items are subsequently “pushed” to end-user shops.
Technology and Fashion Supply Chain
Fashion companies are automating the supply chain using technology for better efficiency. For starters, AI tech helps companies process customer data to determine where they should focus their energy to improve the supply chain process.
Companies are also investing in cloud-based technology to improve communication. This technology facilitates easy documentation of each step, making the process more efficient.
To improve in-house communication through real-time data sharing, warehouses and distribution centers even have wearable tech such as smart glasses and smartwatches.
Most of all, technology helps fashion brands be more transparent about their practices. The need for sustainability is increasing, so companies are finding ways to be more sustainable. This is important to reach millennials and gen z customers who prioritize sustainable, ethical practices over brand.