Why we need agile made to order fashion production in the time of COVID-19
In March 2020, the first wave of the COVID-19 crisis unfolded across the world, with nationwide lockdowns and the implementation of full-time telecommuting. Fashion companies suddenly found themselves with months worth of overstocked inventories, resulting from rapidly shrinking consumer demand.
One of the key lessons to be drawn from this crisis is that mass production is no longer the default model, given its many drawbacks such as excess stock, demand forecast inaccuracies, and lower quality. If we look at the winners of this crisis, such as Reformation, Le Slip Français, Bonobos, and Sézane, their main mode of production is either made to order or small-batch.
By manufacturing after order reception or in limited volumes, these fashion companies can avoid overstocking their inventories and reduce their waste while offering capsule series, limited editions, in-season replenishment, and personalization. This model allows companies to put the consumer and his or her needs at the center of the production process.
How to choose the right technology with the right capabilities to achieve MTO success
While many renowned retailers have quickly embraced the model, some are still hesitating to do so because they are worried about the amount of money, time and effort it might take. Many companies are shying away from MTO production because of the common fear that a drastic supply-chain transformation is needed to accommodate this. Despite the fact that the benefits of MTO production outweigh the costs, fashion companies are concerned about the disruption it will bring to their existing workflows, and the amount of effort needed to upskill their employees.
Given the smaller volumes they will be producing, companies also worry that this will increase production costs and reduce their speed to market, as they can only launch production after the order has been placed. Many companies simply do not have an IT infrastructure that is agile enough for MTO production.
However, there is a surefire way to ensure MTO success, which is, to choose the right technology that automates this process from order reception to final cutting stages. This will help them avoid all issues and enjoy the benefits of MTO production. Choosing the right technology can be tricky. It is important to have both solutions and cutting equipment that have capabilities that are specifically geared towards facilitating the MTO production process.