The COO of apparel 3D platform company, Alvanon, told apparel suppliers at the ASBCI’s Fashion Re:Set Summit that after a period of unprecedented disruption, the apparel sector must adapt to survive and it will take collaboration across the supply chain and buy-in from the top to achieve a sustainable future.

He said: “The days of huge production models and huge wastage are over” and added: “The question now is whether we can produce and sell less and be more profitable. The answer should be ‘yes’.”

The ASBCI aims to represent all key sectors of the clothing and textile supply chain within the UK, and a common theme throughout its conference was the importance of using both technology and collaboration throughout the supply chain to identify priorities and decide the best path for the industry’s future.

The ASBCI’s chairman, Dr Alistair Knox, said: “There was open and honest debate between our speakers, panellists and the audience, and real enthusiasm to explore solutions in a collaborative manner – which is what the ASBCI has always been about.”

What are the key takeaways from the apparel suppliers conference?

• Collaboration is essential if the industry is to adapt to current and future challenges. Collaboration must be up and down the supply chain and peer-to-peer, and it must be fair and equal, with all voices heard. Too often suppliers and manufacturers are not represented when the industry comes together, but transformation can’t be achieved without them. It is also essential that big brands don’t railroad smaller ones and that there is a sharing of learning between competitors.

• Commitment to change must come from the top. Without senior-level buy-in and strategic implementation, initiatives will not succeed. This is particularly true for digital transformation, which can require significant investment. Without top-level support and an integrated transformation programme, efforts may be hindered by a lack of alignment on targets and a failure to understand the changes required to operating models and capabilities.

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• Digital technologies are an essential component in the delivery of the change the industry requires. From sustainability initiatives such as supply chain traceability or reducing materials use to delivering greater business resilience through better planning or intelligent market management and channel allocation, to the adoption of new business models, for the most part the technology already exists to support this.

• To reset and effectively manage the challenges facing the industry, we need employees who are skilled, knowledgeable, and supported in creating the transformative solutions that will deliver beneficial outcomes for their organisation and the industry. Creating a positive environment by promoting employee wellbeing is key to building a productive workforce that can focus on achieving higher organisational performance and address current and future sustainability goals.

The Association of Suppliers to the British Clothing Industry (ASBCI) has republished its garment costing guide as an ebook, which includes a detailed explanation of labour costs calculations, a glossary of costing and accounting terms, and some cautionary anecdotes that demonstrate how easily product lines can go from profit to loss.