The current status in the industry / market
No matter whether jacket or pants, shoe or glove – for every product that is to be mass-produced, a prototype must be created based on a design (whether digital or paper): Only with the help of the development of this prototype can be possible weaknesses design, component selection, or potential production technology.
The suppliers of clothing (and similar softgoods such as sleeping bags and gloves) have now reduced for cost reasons dramatically much know-how and also technical possibilities to develop even prototypes. In the meantime, the planned producers in the Far East or in Eastern Europe are commissioned to develop these prototypes.
For some years now, however, developments have emerged that the negative consequences clearly exceed the originally achieved cost reductions:
- Sizing and grading are becoming more and more „internationalized“, which of course is fatal, because even in Europe different sizing tables for different countries and regions have to be applied in order to be able to offer acceptable fits.
- The level of innovation is decreasing significantly as producers are more likely to seek out the utilization of existing equipment than to introduce new technology.
- The distinctiveness of the brands decreases significantly, because sometimes even competitors can (have to) produce in the same factories.
In addition, despite globalization and the ubiquitous Internet, it still proves to be very difficult to convey ideas of European design to simplification-prone developers, which means that a significant portion of the designs never reach production-ready status. At a certain scale, the cost factor that has to be borne by the European apparel providers is considerable.
Attempts are now being made to limit these drawbacks by making repeated visits per collection of European-based brands to producers in the Far East (or Eastern Europe), which in turn creates considerable travel expenses.
The resulting indistinguishability of models of different brands increases the anyway existing price pressure on the providers again considerably.