Trust is everything, especially in the fashion industry, and the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted how important relationships are between a brand and a supplier, the owner of clothing manufacturer Denim Expert has said.
“[The pandemic] is something we never predicted in our entire life. We always knew there would be some ups and downs but the situations we faced from Covid, within a week, every single thing in our lives, our businesses, our workers, changed,” said Mostafiz Uddin, owner and managing director of Denim Expert, on a webinar for the recent CFS+ event, the new digital concept of the physical Copenhagen Fashion Summit.
Discussing the relationship between brands, retailers, and suppliers during the pandemic and its lockdowns, Uddin said the manufacturers should be considered more as partners.
“[This] was missing. We should have been considered as a family member of the value chain. Somebody should have called and explained, ‘Okay you know this is happening, I don’t know when I can take the orders or when Covid will go, but I am with you’.”
Instead, Uddin says the communication comprised an email to say they were not taking the goods. “It would have been nicer for them to phone and explain the situation.
“Trust is everything, especially in the fashion industry. We work for a lot of customers where we do business of $10-$50m where the customer only sends us an email. They say, ‘Can you book this raw material, I may need this in February or March.’ We don’t wait for a legal purchase order from them, we immediately ask our raw material supplier to do the production for us and our raw material supplier also does the same thing.
“So if you look at the entire fashion industry, I don’t know any other industry where trust is so important. We work on trust but I think [the] trust has been broken this time.”
Uddin says partnerships and relationships between a brand and its supplier have become mandatory during the crisis.
“Without partnerships we cannot grow, we cannot do business.
“We need to redefine our values. Every brand and retailer at this moment in the fashion industry talks about their sustainability goals, their commitments, how they want to take care of the people who work for them. If they can just keep their promise I don’t think this situation will happen again to us.”
Uddin says transparency, not only with consumers but with manufacturers, is key to building equal partnerships and long-term relationships along the supply chain.
“If transparency is not there, we are not able to build up anything, be that a partnership or a relationship, or trust.”