In the fashion world, it’s virtually impossible to create products that meet consumer expectations and maintain a competitive edge without the right raw materials. As the first element in the highly complex fashion supply chain, raw materials make up the majority of production costs—up to 70%—while accounting for half of all quality issues.
In the current supply chain environment, increasing logistical challenges and constant price battles make it more important than ever to get fabric right from the start through the careful management of raw materials. Consumers today are also demanding products that meet their expectations in terms of quality and sustainability—and they have more power than ever to share their experiences with others.
Ultimately, the right management of raw materials can help brands and retailers save millions of dollars in preventative costs and protect brand reputation in a noisy marketplace.
Prevention is always better than cure
In the garment industry, the quality of each finished product is directly related to the quality of the fabric when it’s received as a roll. Even if manufacturers work with state-of-the-art equipment and utilize the most exemplary manufacturing methods, these won’t correct the effects of using defective, non-performing, or non-compliant raw materials.
While many final-product quality issues experienced by textile factories result from inadequate raw materials being passed down the production line, some factory managers don’t realize that these problems are easily avoidable. Ensuring that the properties of each fabric are compatible with the intentions of the end-use garment can—and should—be technically evaluated at the beginning of the creation process.
Engage with your consumers
In today’s hyper-connected world, consumers can easily share their opinions about products in public forums, making it more vital than ever for fashion brands and retailers to listen to this feedback and integrate it into the selection and improvement of raw materials. Keeping this dialogue open will allow you to understand your consumers’ expectations and be clear on the requirements of your raw materials, so you can get the fit and comfort of your products just right—and inspire positive feedback.
Essentially, working with better raw materials will:
- Reduce quality defects both during production and in-store. Tackling issues upstream and identifying the most suitable suppliers to secure capacity and improve productivity will enable you to boost quality and make better products.
- Improve fluidity for manufacturers. Better materials and fabrics reduce issues, generate less waste, and ultimately speed up the manufacturing process.
- Increase visibility. Understanding the origins of your raw materials will help you improve traceability, support your sustainability objectives, and allow you to optimize your supply chain systems.
- Avoid logistical challenges. Making products correctly from the start will help keep your shipments on time and your stock levels adequate.
- Make customers happier. Products that keep their quality promise and meet consumer expectations will ultimately improve customer satisfaction and attract new customers.
- Tackle issues upstream and reduce costs of non-quality. A smoother supply chain will result in cost reductions and more satisfied customers, potentially boosting business.
Start at the source
Raw materials in fashion go through numerous steps before the finished product is ready to sell, making visibility a challenge for brands and retailers. However, ensuring that the highest standards are set and achieved from the beginning is critical. It’s important to adopt a boots-on-the-ground approach and map the entire supply chain from the start of the development process—from sourcing raw fibers to garment production and beyond. This will allow you to implement effective quality management systems from the foundation stage that significantly improve operational performance while saving time and money and leading to higher-quality goods.
Performing a complete evaluation will reveal any non-compliance issues and enable you to implement a preventive action plan to resolve them. Some of these solutions include:
- Technical evaluation audits
- Corrective & Preventative Action Plan audits (CPAP)
- Raw material inspections
- Raw material testing
- Raw material risk mitigation
Applied together, these can significantly improve quality, cost, time, and customer satisfaction.
Reducing risks also delivers benefits
Improving overall quality output from the raw materials stage also works with sustainability and traceability objectives, ensuring you always know where your raw materials have come from and how they’ve been produced.
Managing raw materials quality generally involves two key elements:
- Quality should be embedded in the product across design, conception, and the selection of trims and materials. Quality output can be improved by working from as early as possible in the supply chain by:
- Ensuring that materials are selected in accordance with expected fit and performance, placing the consumer voice at the center.
- Securing specifications from the beginning through proper R&D, monitored production steps, and best manufacturing practices.
- Reallocating resources and efforts earlier in the supply chain and mitigating risks.
- Addressing raw materials quality enables you to enhance sustainability and traceability. Concentrating on the raw materials supply chain will also generate:
- Better sourcing strategies.
- Opportunities to use more eco-friendly materials.
- Possibilities to better understand your stakeholders (T2, T3 providers) in an often-scattered production chain.
- Mastering of traceability and increased compliance.
A dedicated raw materials approach
Through SgT’s many years of experience in textile quality, our team has learned that it’s vitally important to care about raw materials. For that reason, we’ve introduced a complete suite of services to assist our partners in the quality management of their raw materials. Our solutions include:
- Mills mapping
- Mills technical audits
- CPAP audits
- Color room validations
- Yarn inspections
- Testing at the development stage
- Testing during production
- Picking during production
- Fabric inspections
- Production follow-ups
- Random control of fabrics at the garment factory
Interested in finding out more about our raw materials solutions?