Telephone Game

Where is your clothing from, really? While it can feel good to buy a garment with a “Made in America” tag, finding a piece of clothing that is truly domestic all the way down is sort of like trying to find an album created by only one musician. By the time a recording makes its way to your computer or smartphone, it’s gone through multiple hands: the performers, the recording engineers, the mixer, the producer and the mastering studio.

Similarly, a t-shirt or a boot goes through a long process before it ends up in your closet. Even if the garment was assembled on-site at your favorite designer’s warehouse, the textiles had to be sourced from somewhere — and before those textiles were assembled, they had to be woven from raw materials, which had to be grown, harvested, cleaned and processed somewhere.

In this way, apparel manufacturing can be a bit like a telephone game, where a small mistake early in the supply chain can become a catastrophe by the time it ends up at the warehouse or wholesaler. Fortunately, with the right tools at your disposal and some careful planning, you can avoid the following issues:

  1. A drought thousands of miles away affects your ability to ship goods on time.

    We’ve all heard about the “butterfly effect,” where a butterfly flapping its wings in Pennsylvania can cause a hurricane in China. While that might not be completely true, a hurricane in China can cause huge problems for an apparel manufacturing business in Pennsylvania.

    Even if you source your textiles locally and manufacture your apparel onsite, those textiles might have been woven from crops harvested on another continent. Let’s say all of your production is domestic, but you source textiles from crops grown in the California drought — you’d probably be behind production (but at least you wouldn’t have to worry about port issues on top of inclement weather).

    Using the push-pull method can help you avoid this apparel manufacturing SNAFU. By incurring extra cost early in the supply chain, while textiles are still being woven, and ordering more textile than you’re forecasted to require, you can avoid running out of stock in case of unforeseen weather catastrophes.

    Of course, this strategy may not be profitable for every business case, so it’s important that you do the math to determine whether your business can stay in the green using the push-pull method. Centralized ERP software that tracks every cost to your business, as well as customer orders, financing and accounting, can help you make the best decision for your company.
  2. A duty or tariff sneaks up on you unawares and messes with your profit margins.

    We’ve written about the complexity of apparel duties before, and anyone who has created a garment with multiple types of fabric can attest to how quickly tariffs can add up — especially if you’re not keeping a close watch on them.

    If you’re manufacturing a winter boot, the fur (or faux fur) lining the boot, the rubber on the sole, the leather (or vegan leather) in the insole and the cotton in the laces may all be sourced from different places, and they may all have their own duty or tariff. This can be even more complex if you make occupational apparel that requires special materials, like flame-retardant or radiation-protecting fabric for hazmat suits. All it takes is one unexpected tariff from one type of textile to shrink your profit margins and remove line items from next quarter’s budget.

    The solution? Keep close tabs on duties and tariffs with an all-inclusive enterprise resource management solution, and make sure that every cost incurred along the supply chain is visible to your accounting team.

Difficulties of apparel business communication

Getting a Handle on Your Apparel Manufacturing Process

Few appreciate the complexity that goes into creating a simple garment the way apparel manufacturers do, and keeping tabs on all of the moving parts that go into your business while ensuring your customers are satisfied and your product is of the highest quality is no small order. That’s why it’s so important that you have the tools necessary to get the job done right, and that your enterprise resource management solution is tailor-made for the apparel manufacturing industry.

With enterprise resource management software from Apparel Business Systems, you can keep careful track of every step in your supply chain, from seed to stitch to your customers’ mailbox. Don’t play the telephone game with your business. Designed strictly for the footwear and apparel manufacturing industry, ABS’ software knows your specific needs, with bespoke features for fashion manufacturers and wholesalers.

Want to learn more about how your product, warehouse and supply chain management can be streamlined with ABS? Contact us today!