3 Tips for Fashion Designers to Streamline Productions
As a fashion designer, production is everything. A flawed production, with significant reworks, could ultimately lead to a complete lack of profit. Fashion designers need to source their production and manufacturing carefully, and even minor issues in communication can be disastrous. With there being many issues with tariffs and overseas factories today, it behooves every fashion designer to cast a critical eye on their current production processes.
But that isn’t always simple. Fashion designers are called upon to become experts in fields that they may have little interest in—complex industries such as manufacturing, production, and logistics. Here are a few important tips about fashion designers production planning.
- Create automated workflow and processes.
The more you can automate, the less likely there are to be issues. With the use of the right digital platform, content can flow directly from your designs to the product manufacturers. On the front end, orders can be completed relative to the inventory, and inventory can be automatically updated.
Product workflow governs everything from how “designs” become cutting files, to how products are shipped to customers. Some fashion designers have remarkably simple workflows: They upload their products, their products are created on-demand, and their products are shipped by a third party. Other fashion designers have extremely complex workflows, which includes fabric swatching, dye testing, and more.
As fashion designers grow, workflow becomes more important. Automated platforms are critical for scaling. Fashion designers will acquire additional manufacturers, vendors, and customers, and may need to push through large volumes of orders automatically.
ERP (enterprise resource planning) solutions can help fashion designers manage their processes without contributing too significantly to their administrative overhead. For fashion designers, it’s often necessary to operate with lean staff. Some designers are even solo entrepreneurs, working on their own, and trying their best to manage their orders. With ERP solutions, fashion designers are able to leverage their technology to improve their consistency.
- Remain in communication with your production facility.
The greater the levels of your communication, the less likely it is for you to encounter difficulties down the line. Fashion designers often need their production facilities to commit to reworks, and production facilities occasionally need to present the designer with modifications and alternatives.
Fashion designers frequently run into issues when changes occur but they aren’t properly logged. Of course, part of eliminating these issues is to reduce production changes to begin with—which is a part of developing better processes.
Thorough communication also means that any production delays can be reacted to swiftly, which helps a fashion designer maintain their positive relationships with their vendors. Again, ERP solutions can help. ERP solutions can help you track your production facilities and manufacturers, so you can remain in constant contact with them. Advanced ERP software can be integrated directly into your lines of communication, and improve upon your overall product flow.
- Regularly audit your production processes.
How do you know whether your production processes need improvement? Auditing. Regular audits of any process is necessary to continually optimize them. During a production audit, identify:
- Shipping and logistics. Did products arrive late? Why? Identifying issues and bottlenecks can help you proactively avoid them later.
- Risk factors. What could cause mistakes with your next shipments? Are there factories that may go out of business? What would happen if they did?
- Mistakes and reworks. What caused these mistakes? What processes and controls could be implemented to improve upon them?
Ultimately, fashion design is a business. It’s a manufacturing business that often has more in common with the automotive industry than the artist industry. Fashion designers have to work to improve upon their production and manufacturing, often by investing in the right technology, and taking action to improve upon their processes. The above three tips are an excellent starting point, but designers still need to proactively make improvements before they become an issue. ERP software can help.