If Chinese brands want to stay competitive, they need to distinguish themselves by focusing on enhanced value and services, brand quality and creativity, according to technology specialist Lectra.

Speaking at the China International Sewing Machinery & Accessories (CISMA) show in Shanghai, China this week, Lectra offered insight into how brands and manufacturers can execute the Chinese Government’s ten-year strategic plan ‘Made in China 2025’.

The strategy aims to help the Chinese economy develop its capacity for value-added manufacturing and smart industrial production.

“China’s apparel manufacturing industry has driven the country’s economy for the past three decades, but the industry is now dealing with an economic slowdown, higher wages, bigger environmental awareness and more limited resources,” said Lectra CEO Daniel Harari.

“Contenders in Cambodia, Vietnam and Bangladesh can compete on cost, while advanced economies such as the US, Germany and Japan are pulling ahead in terms of technology. If Chinese brands want to stay competitive, they need to distinguish themselves by focusing on enhanced value and services, brand quality and creativity.”

Lectra identified five key areas where Chinese apparel manufacturers could benefit from adopting best-in-class practices to meet the ‘Made in China 2025’ goals set by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. These include innovation, differentiation, industrial excellence, collaboration and transformation.

The company also presented ways in which technology and lean methodologies can help reach these objectives. In particular, Harari highlighted how seamless data sharing from design to production facilitates interactive, real-time collaboration, emphasising the crucial role of effective change management in ensuring a successful transition to smart production.

Andreas Kim, managing director of Lectra Greater China, added: “There are still variations in quality standards and efficiency among Chinese manufacturers, but the ‘Made in China 2025’ plan has put strong guidelines in place to solve these issues.

“China is ready to move on from its role as ‘the world’s factory’ and become an innovative global leader in apparel manufacturing. By investing in innovation and smart technology, Chinese apparel manufacturers can shift their focus to operational efficiency and product quality, reinventing their offer and ultimately turning ‘Made in China’ into a real mark of excellence.”