Fierce competition and continuously growing expenses challenge designers to explore new cost-cutting techniques. With budget savvy shoppers dictating the rules on the market, many labels struggle trying to strike perfect balance in the eternal conflict of quality and aesthetic appeal versus profit margins. And while using cheaper fabrics and imitation materials is one way to go, compromising on quality is not an option for designers who care about their reputation and customer satisfaction.
Here are some ideas to help you revisit and optimize your sourcing, production and sales expenses while continuing to give consumers good value for their money.
Nipping & Tucking
Fabric is one of the key components affecting the garment’s price. Sacrificing organic fibers in favor of their synthetic alternatives will most likely drive clientele away. However, there’s definitely room for maneuver if you invest some time into careful planning. First of all, minimize waste. Consult your pattern-maker and manufacturing contractor to make sure that every inch of fabric is put to good use. Also, consider offering each seasons’ styles in fewer fabric/color options (say, three instead of five), and save by bulk buying materials and supplies.
Aside from giving your label additional competitive edge, considering sustainable alternatives to your production procedures can help you save some big bucks. Start with revisiting your power usage – something as simple as switching to LED light bulbs or renewable energy sources in your studio and showroom might make a big difference. Try using recyclable banners, hangers and other sustainable goods that can be returned to the manufacturer for a refund. Also, make sure you’re up-to-date on the latest technological developments. For example, today’s advanced fabric dyeing techniques allow manufacturers and designers to use up to 90% less water and over 80% less energy to create a unique color or pattern.
Automation & Outsourcing
The pros and cons of moving production offshore are well-known. But have you ever thought how much time and money you can save by outsourcing accounting, marketing, order fulfillment, sales and many other tasks to professionals? Audit your business processes and ask yourself: “Is there software that can handle or simplify mundane tasks?”, “Can I do social media marketing/distribution/etc. myself or would it be cheaper to hire an in-house staff, or sign with a specialized service provider?”
The benefits of outsourcing are obvious – aside from saving money and receiving top-notch service (that is, if you choose a qualified partner) you are less stressed and have more time to concentrate on what you do best – creating exquisite things for people to wear.
The bottom line is – the end consumer wants good value for their money. So regardless of whether or not you choose to follow our advice, keep one rule of thumb in mind: if that pleat, button, or rare fabric blend adds aesthetic or practical value to your garment – keep it, otherwise – drop it without hesitation.
About The Author: BridgeShowroom
Ken Nachbar is a co-founder and partner in Bridge Showroom. Ken loves working with designers, helping them open new doors, find new customers, and grow their businesses. With bachelor's degree in economics and an MBA from the University of Michigan, Ken combines 25 years of management skill and experience with his passion for fashion.
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