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Strategies for mass customization trends and on demand production in a changing Fashion manufacturing industry

Demand for mass customization, small series, single pieces and more generally on-demand manufacturing in fashion is on the rise.

ERA of changes

Using on demand strategies means manufacturers can make products exactly to customer specifications. It can also be advantageous for fashion manufacturers that prefer to keep a minimal stock or respond to changing fashion industry trends.

By adopting on demand strategies and a more agile supply chain, mass-market players can become responsive enough to accelerate their speed to market. This enables fashion companies to minimize inventories on a scale broad enough to create a positive influence on cash flow.

On-demand production and personalization are the biggest trends in the industry and will be for years to come. To meet the growing need for on demand manufacturing of fashion and keep pace with fashion industry trends manufacturers must invest in strategies for on demand production.


Read the e-guide to find out more about:

  • Why demand-based production has become more cost-effective

  • How agile, demand-based production models help companies meet consumers' evolving expectations

  • What fashion's power players are doing to gain market share

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Growth of mass customization in fashion industry

Customization is the capability to offer individually tailored products or services on a large scale. In the 2019 Personalization Report, which surveyed people across the apparel, accessories and footwear industries, 68.9% of respondents said they think that consumers expect customized or personalized goods. In a push back against the homogeneity of the fast fashion model, a growing number of fashion consumers are looking for unique, customized products that set them apart.

Fashion companies can develop customized products by automating on-demand and small-batch production at ready-to-wear speed to achieve the same, if not better, results. Capitalizing on advanced technology also allows apparel manufacturers the ability to propose customization as a value-added option to its customers.

  • Many fashion consumers are willing to pay a premium for customization options

  • Producing customized apparel strengthens competitive advantage in terms of product offer

  • Increased opportunity to reduce production costs, such as lowering capital investment and maintaining smaller inventorie

Demand for sustainability

Fashion companies seeking to create value in a market transformed by sustainability businesses must gain oversight of the social and environmental impact of their global supply chain. Direct insight into how the supply chain operates enables organizations to make smarter decisions that benefits not only their business but also the environment.

The on-demand model improves sustainability and transparency initiatives in the fashion industry by closing the gap between businesses and their suppliers and customers. This contraction of the global supply chain enables companies to choose the highest quality suppliers and coordinate their efforts to achieve “zero waste” throughout their value chain.

Businesses investing in on demand strategies are able to leverage product data to optimize material efficiency, which in turn reduces energy demand and water consumption. Moreover, by matching production with demand, businesses can take advantage of nearshoring opportunities to lower transportation-associated carbon emissions.

  • 75% of consumers consider sustainability as an extremely or very important issue

  • one-third of American consumers are willing to pay 25% more for sustainable products


 Tremendous impact of social media on fashion industry

The integration of digital technology into daily life is fundamentally changing how fashion consumers behave. The newfound ability to widely share information and easily voice their opinions, allows today’s fashion consumers to inform and influence fashion industry trends on a massive scale.

The globalized digital world has given birth to a new breed of empowered consumer that is able to impose their demands—value for time, money, social and environmental issues, and personalized style and tastes—on the market.

Social media marketing and on-demand manufacturing for fashion go hand-in-hand. To evolve as fast as today’s fashion consumers, fashion brands are taking advantage of state-of-the-art digital communication, data analytics and automation technology tools to gain a continuous understanding of consumer needs and to execute on demand strategies that enable them to read and respond faster to changing consumer demand in the fashion industry.

  • People now take their fashion cues from Instagram influencers, internet reviews and their peers.

  • 35% of millennial women say that social media has a major influence on their clothing purchases


Insights of the leaders: Zara manufacturing keys of success

Zara understands that speed to market equates profitability. They are able to jump on the newest fashion industry trends and have them in their stores before the style has lost its popularity. By using data analytics and the latest in automation technology for insights into what their customers want, Zara is able to implement on demand manufacturing strategies that enable them to focus on production agility to close the gap between production and the end consumer.

The ability to ship more product, more often and in smaller batches, gives Zara the ability to protect against the risk of one style not selling as well as the others, and ensures that there is not a lot of unsold inventory to get rid of.

On demand manufacturing of fashion products is how Zara is achieving success in today’s rapidly changing business environment.  It empowers them with the speed and agility to stay ahead of the economic and technological changes transforming society.

  • Focusing on fast turnaround is the key to the company’s success

  • Proximity to the distribution center allows Zara to ship more often and in smaller batches

  • Zara designs and manufactures 50% of their fashion line in the middle of the season


Bringing the value chain closer to the consumer

In this challenging market environment, what options are available to preserve (or increase) margins and cater to consumers’ calls for more customization, sustainability and a constant stream of ‘newness’?

For manufacturers examining how they can begin preserving margins, time savings and responsiveness right now, adopting an automated agile, demand-led production model is the first step.

Making the switch from the traditional supply chain to an on-demand business model with localized manufacturing can seem a daunting task. However, companies that have begun are already reaping the benefits.