I’ve been talking to a lot of people recently about the supply chain, how to reshape it, and how to make it an intrinsic part of your brand, if not actually the USP of the proposition.
For too many years the general mind-set has been to simply source and ship from wherever we can get the best deal. Relying on low wages to pump up our margins, with at best a cursory interest in the ethical and sustainable implications, not to mention the difficulties of maintaining design accuracy and quality control in our products.
The fact is that today a variety of alternatives are available. The key is not to consider the supply chain at the end of developing your brand proposition simply as a way to make things, but to include the supply chain at the brand conception, and then selecting and moulding the manufacturing solution to enable you to deliver the brand proposition that your customer wants.
For sure, if all you want to do is enter a market with the lowest price, and a future of spiraling price reductions then choose the mass market, global solution. Outsource everything if you want. But for the growing breed of new designers and fashion businesses, where an added-value and distinct proposition is the way to be seen in a sea of merchandise, then supply chain options that add-value to the brand are essential.
I find my inspiration this month comes from the young designers I am meeting at the London College of Fashion. For them the product proposition is the key, and it is what dictates everything that follows. They are untainted by exploitative economics.
One such lady is Adiam Elias, with her brand Adiamelias. As a student in every sense of fabrics, materials, product design and dressmaking, she has built her proposition on high quality, beautiful fashion as a considered purchase and a cherished piece for many years to come.
As a result of this personal, hands-on proposition her supply chain of choice returns to an age where the appreciation of quality was probably at its height. In days gone by bespoke, or hand-made was the terminology. The principle is now being re-imagined through the growing world of Pre-order.
This supply chain is as far from fast fashion as is possible. But this is not a banner waving protest at globalisation, but a realisation that quality clothing, beautiful to wear, requires a different model where the production is simply part of the same quality mind-set.
And for Adiam the quality mind-set of her customer is imperative to her success. The customer is being asked to wait for their garment to be made. And whilst this does evoke feelings of being special and unique, the process of waiting goes against the last 50 years of consumerism where faster and faster product gratification has been the only game in town. Society has been brainwashed.
The challenge for Adiam is to leverage every element of her brand, the garment, the design, the quality, the craftsmanship, the uniqueness, not to mention the ethics and sustainability of a zero waste product produced by well paid specialists.
The opportunity is to replace impatience with anticipation.
Adiam is taking part in this year’s London College of Fashion collaborative challenge where students will evolve and explore the AdiamElias brand, producing concepts for a physical shop. How the students communicate the benefits of Pre-order, and position it as a supply chain solution at the centre of the brand, will be fascinating.
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