On-demand production is the future
I’ve been passionate about fashion my entire life. To me, clothing is a tool for self-expression and I’ve loved translating my passion into nearly
two decades of work as a fashion designer and executive for successful well-known brands. If you’ve read my musings you know I’ve made a
conscious choice to contribute to the ethical fashion movement as a result of the negative environmental impact of the fashion industry. I’ve
witnessed the wastefulness that accompanies the traditional fashion business model and in the next few paragraphs, I want to highlight why I
chose to use an on-demand production model for Santicler. Here we go…
What is (was) the traditional production model used in the industry?
For decades brands would study consumer preferences and influences and try to predict what consumers would want to wear in the next season.
We usually needed a year+ to design, plan, manufacture, and bring product to market. We would use forecasting models to predict how much of
each item to manufacture and we would use these estimates to negotiate with our manufacturing partners offshore. We were often wrong in our
estimates of what consumers were going to buy...sometimes by a narrow margin and sometimes by more. Product would remain unsold and, to
make room for the next season’s collection, we would discount it, sell to discount retailers, offshore jobbers, or if nothing else worked, discard
the leftover and write off the loss.
What is fast-fashion?
The advent of social media and manufacturing advances enabled the industry to shift to the fast-fashion model. Brands started to observe customer
preferences and trends in “real-time” and use this information to design product on a shorter timeline increasing the variety of units manufactured every
year and offering consumers the opportunity to buy the latest trends within a few months (as opposed to needing to wait for a year). This meant brands
needed to create more styles more often and manufacture lower quantities of each unit: “more breath and less depth”. The speed to market resulted in
lowered product quality, increased discounting, reliance on inexpensive synthetic fabrics, and contributed to the growth of discarded clothing in landfills.
What is on-demand production and why does it make sense?
The on-demand production model is quite straightforward. Brands manufacture product as it is demanded by the consumer instead of forecasting demand
and manufacturing a large inventory in hopes it would sell. It makes sense because it:
Reduces demand uncertainty
Under this model, you manufacture what your customers sign up to buy and you eliminate the need to forecast and make quality concessions because
you don’t know how much of your product you’ll be able to move.
Very importantly, on-demand production eliminates the need to discount or discard inventory. It supports an emphasis on quality and “intentional” as opposed
to “impulsive” shopping where consumers invest in quality clothing that will last as opposed to cheap clothing they buy on a whim to virtually discard after
a few wears.
Enables small-batch production cycles
While at Santicler we focus on timeless clothing, the on-demand model allows us to be responsive to our customer base and pivot when we see our
customers would prefer something slightly different. This supports our customer-centricity and enables us to truly create investment pieces our customers
will be proud to wear.
At Santicler our on-demand production model is direct-to-consumer and online. We cut out the middle-man and offer a luxury product at a lower cost.
While the cost of manufacturing on-demand is higher, it doesn’t prevent us from bringing our customers the highest quality product that is sustainably made.
This is the future of fashion and with each collection, we are improving our operations and speed to market.
Thank you for reading, Monica