The apparel industry is more than just pretty fabrics and runway models. Product development is vital to the advancement and continued business within any industry, and the apparel industry faces product development challenges.
However, there are steps companies can take to overcome these challenges. It will take time to implement some of today’s tools and management resources to continue to provide the latest fashion and stay profitable.
What is Product Development?
Product development addresses a consumer need and provides product solutions. It is the design and engineering of a product’s entire lifecycle—from concept to distribution and maintenance.
In the apparel industry, product development ensures customer satisfaction through a lengthy and complex process. It involves market research, conceptualizing, developing new, trending styles and improving on the old, making samples, finalizing styles with standards, and manufacturing the season’s next line of garments before distribution and marketing begin.
Unique challenges complicate product development within the apparel industry, including streamlining creativity, managing multiple materials, a wide range of SKUs, and supporting sustainability.
- Streamlining Creativity
The fashion industry relies heavily on the creativity of designers, how they work, and how they are inspired. This can be a difficult process to streamline. High-tech design software and hardware can make it easier for designers to execute their ideas quickly and share them effortlessly.
Apparel organizations must be more responsive and streamlined in product design and creative development without the demand for changes in their creative team’s toolset. With PLM software, advances like 3D modeling, and access to fully integrated systems, designers can collaborate across the system, resulting in innovative designs and greater efficiency.
- Managing Materials
Materials matter more in fashion than in any other industry. However, it is difficult to find and order the right materials for a design without physically seeing or touching them.
The best PLM systems for apparel companies understand the importance of materials in the apparel industry and provide solutions to manage the materials designers need seamlessly. Textiles, fabrics, and colors are all accessible from within the PLM system, information shared by all other teams and suppliers.
Materials can be selected from a material library, capable of defining material quality and placement. These libraries can be built from the ground up or using templates from Adobe systems, then quickly added to and edited. PLM software can facilitate communication and inspiration between design and development teams, saving time, and reducing errors in the process.
- A Wide Range of SKUs
The apparel industry requires a lot of organization and powerful software to manage the production of multiple sizes and colors/patterns for every single product. The use of multiple, varying systems for inputting SKU information can increase issues such as duplicate or conflicting entries. Fashion industry-specific PLM software that works with more extensive data can organize that wide range of SKUs and avoid issues with suppliers or delays in getting products to market.
Navigating the full range of SKUs can be successfully streamlined with PLM software tools formulating SKU creation in repeatable and understandable formats accessible and understandable by everyone in the organization. It allows movement from one stage of product development to another the same way, every time.
- Supporting Sustainability
Today’s apparel market is full of consumers becoming increasingly more conscious of shopping for sustainable fashion. Apparel companies need to become more sustainable to meet customer expectations. To qualify as sustainable, clothes, shoes, and accessories should be designed, manufactured, and marketed with environmental and socio-economic aspects heading each product lifecycle. The right technology can ensure awareness of the impacts decisions have on the people and resources within the product development process.
Communication is critical in maintaining control in sustainable apparel product development. PLM technology can make a difference in ensuring communication at every stage of a product’s lifecycle. PLM software can help track compliance, sustainability, and social impact from the raw materials used to each garment’s detail.
PLM software’s sophisticated system is a comprehensive set of tools to manage the entire product lifecycle. It tracks, organizes, safely stores, and shares records of the design, production, and retail process in a central, digitized environment accessible by any relevant team member.
Solve Product Development Challenges with PLM Software
The fashion industry is a unique business that requires technology capable of solutions specific to this market, or that technology may never completely fit right. Competing with the steady stream of on-trend styles with a high-tech software solution saves time, lowers costs, and increases market speeds. Solve your product development challenges with PLM software.