Current Product Offering within a Fashion Retailer

Fashion Retailer
Fashion Retailer

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A Report of Research and Analysis a Current Product Offering within a Fashion Retailer that has a UK Store Presence

Introduction

 With changing global fashion trends, the clothing and textile industry has undoubtedly become one of the most dynamic and competitive as well as rapidly changing sectors. This has prompted many fashion retailers across the world to embark on regular product offering as well as global sourcing in order achieve competitive advantage in the international market for them to remain relevant (Akhil, 2015).  The aims and objectives of this report is to research and analyse a current product offering for a fashion retailer that has a UK store presence and make recommendations on how the product could be progressed for the following season (Spring/summer ‘17) for an international market.  

This is done with an emphasis on produce Illustrator designs for the following season (Spring/summer ‘17) within the allocated budget of £600K, which are appropriate for an international market. In addition, an assortment or range plan is produced in an Excel spreadsheet to indicate budget spend. Through this approach it is possible to present the buy per garment that includes a number of aspects with regards to the designed garment including volume (ranking), spend, distribution, attributes as well as sourcing country. Finally, the report will provide analysis of sourcing criteria with recommendations including a valid critical path.

Overview of current offer

The fashion retail to be considered in this report is the H&M, which has grown from a single women’s wear shop in Västerås, Sweden, and has nowadays extensively expanded its operations across the world to have presence across international market through its six different brands and 4,000 fashion retail stores all around the world. Six independent brands are the main outlets through which H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB comprises six runs its day to day operations in marketing and sale of fashion products, and these brands are: H&M, COS, Cheap Monday, Monki, Weekday, and & Other Stories (H&M, 2016).

The team which has been mandated with the function of innovating and developing H&M’s fashion designs has been playing an imperative role in creating sustainable fashion for all, while striving to ensure that they are always offered for sale at the best price and quality. The collections of fashion designs that are developed by H&M designers include everything from quintessential functional and basics sportswear for children, teenagers, women, and men, to dazzling party collections for every occasion or season (H&M, 2016).

In addition, to shoes, bags, clothes, jewellery, underwear and make up as well as fashionable interiors for children and adults. The variety and width of the H&M collections is an indication that customers are always able to find something to suit their wardrobe as well as their style. The fashion has since inception tremendously expanded its operations globally and nowadays it has presence across many parts of the world through the H&M stores in 61 markets worldwide. In addition, the fashion retailer has an extensive online presence through which it makes a significant proportion of merchandise mainly because of its online shopping in 32 countries (H&M, 2016).

The current garments on offering which are under consideration are the special ladies’ dresses fashion collections for the Conscious Exclusive 2016 in the month of May

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Analysis on current garments

The current garments on offering which are under consideration are the special ladies’ dresses fashion collections for the Conscious Exclusive 2016 in the month of May.

The description of the current garment under consideration is as follows:

Title: Conscious Exclusive 2016

Price: £499

Description: A sleeveless round neck wedding or ready to wear dress made from two layers, whereby the outside layer is made from organic silk while the inner layer made from Tencel. The dress has been subjected to further decoration through embellishment with Art Deco inspired embroidery of glass beads that have been made from recycled glass. The dress was offered for sale in April 7, 2016 and the offer is still ongoing (H&M, 2016).

An illustration of the picture is shown the picture below:               

Product Development

This part of the report will cover the Illustrator proposals for the fashion designs envisaged to be developed for next season (Spring/summer ‘17) for an international market. As a result, this part will be covered in two sections, the first one discussing the Illustrator proposals as well as the fashion design specifications for the considered garment, and the second part covering the assortment or range plan.   

Illustrator proposals

Through the illustrator proposals, designs are produced within the allocated budget of £600K for SS’17 season for an international market. This will include CAD drawings for each design showing two views (front & back) including colour ways or prints. Furthermore, specifications for each selected design will be provided starting with thumbnail sketches and using the mood boards as inspiration (Mayer, 2014).        

      

Assortment plan

The assortment range plan in this report was included for the purpose of compiling a collection of garments that was commercially acceptable within the design and financial parameters, before the mass production can commence. However, there are some procedures that is needed to be included and stringently followed in the assortment or range plan for the purpose of making sure that the buyer can have a glimpse or insight into the anticipated or planned collection offering.

For instance, the assortment plan has to include a number of factors of the production including the number of garments to be included in the collection range. In addition, there must also be inclusion of different types of garments or collection (fashion to classic, tops to bottom styles) as well as specific styles which are to be included e.g. color and fabrics used to make the garment. Furthermore, the assortment plan should also include the price at which each garment is to be sold, the cost price of producing each garment, sizes included, among others (Miller, 2008; Mayer, 2014).

Recommendations on how the product could be progressed for the following season for an International market (Spring/Summer ‘17)

In order to ensure that the most appropriate recommendations on how the product could be progressed for the following season for an International market (Spring/Summer ‘17), there is need to undertake an assortment fashion forecasting based on the prevailing fashion trends. This is attributable to the fact that fashion forecasting plays an important role in determining the fashion trends in future by focusing on upcoming fashion and lifestyle trends (Mayer, 2014).

For instance, the H&M must be able to specifically focus on fashion trends and predict the styles, fabrics, colours that have a high likelihood of presentation on the runaway as well as in the stores for the fashion events that are to take place in the near future. This concept of fashion forecasting applies across the entire fashion industry including mass market, ready-to-wear, haute couture as well as street wear (Miller, 2008).

Therefore, the product can be progressed for the following season for an International market through an appropriate and perfect merchandise mix by ensuring that the colours of leather and that of the fabric used are perfectly matched with a consideration of trending colours for the international market (Mayer, 2014). In addition, the product can also be progressed by accessorizing it in order to make it more appealing. However, the accessories to be used must be carefully selected bearing in mind the prevailing fashion, style, and social trends.

For example, the product can be progressed by decorating it through embellishment with Art Deco inspired embroidery of glass beads that have been made from recycled glass. Furthermore, variations of the bound cuff seams, necklines as well as hems can also be differentially used to give the dress distinctive appearances depending on the fashion trends. Moreover, inclusion of a side and/or arm mesh as well as invisible zip is the other way through which this product can be progressed (NPR, 2011).

Sourcing summary

Global Sourcing and International Trade

Global sourcing has become an important aspect of fashion industry in the international trade, and it involves the selection of a supplier of either a product or the raw materialcomponents and services used in the make up and delivery of the products. As a result, true global sourcing is when a business manufactures and sells a consistent product globally, sourcing some or the entire product from third parties chosen to enable cost-effective and efficient sourcing and coordinated globally.  

Global sourcing in contemporary international business is not solely concerned about reduction of production costs but also it focuses on improved on the supply and demand chains of finished products as well as raw materials. However, as observed in illustrations provided in the diagrams shown below it is important to note that, previously global sourcing was all about cost. As a result, the objective was to source product or components from a country with low labour costs with an ultimate goal of gaining cost advantage.

There has been changing trends in global sourcing whereby according to Kurt Salmon (2012) book acting as a global sourcing reference; the largest manufacturers of clothing and textiles are shown in the table shown below. The ranking is done based on the value of apparel exportation in terms of millions of U.S. Dollars expressed as percentages.

Source: Kurt Salmon Global Sourcing Reference, 11th Edition

In contrast, despite the fact that top apparel exporters are located in Asia most retailers are either found in the Europe or U.S. For instance, according to Salmon (2012), 88 per cent of clothing retailers are located within Europe and China is ranked as their number one sourcing destination. However, there has been an increasing trend of production costs over the recent past, where production costs have increased 160 per cent since 2005.

A comparison of production costs across the world reveals sharp variations which an important determinant of the choices of sourcing countries for fashion retailers in Europe and the U.S. For example, Bangladesh and Vietnam have lowest PCI’s of all sourcing countries. However, Southern China greater costs than Central USA meaning that specific locations or regions within a country also be considered but not generally considering the country as a whole.

The emerging markets are also playing a significant role where Ethiopia could be one to watch since many fashion retailers have expressed interest (i.e. H&M, Tesco & Primark are all running pilots) in the country whose attraction to fashion retailers is attributed to its lower social living costs and well established transportation infrastructure. The table below ranks countries based on their PCI

Source: Kurt Salmon Global Sourcing Reference, 11th Edition

Moreover, with regards to cost there have been significant changes in the global sourcing trends. For instance, according to fashion price tracker figures by RetailWeek Analytics shows that there has been significantly changing production on markdown expressed in percentage among the leading fashion retailers with online presence.

Source: Retail Week Analytics

Global sourcing also involve the issues of quality, ethics and social responsibility as well as supply chain management as discussed in the sections that follows.

Quality

  • No longer disposable fashion attitude
  • Ensures competitor advantage

As our business has become more fashion centric, we have been able to source products from Asia that are not just low cost, but also fit the needs of the customer. But perceived quality continues to be a factor – certainly globally sourced goods are seen by consumers to be inferior when tagged with “Made in China” when in fact the quality is higher than comparable goods sourced in the UK.

Ethical & Social Responsibility

  • Not just human rights and community development issues.
  • Concerns for security, carbon footprint, bribery, corruption and money laundering.
  • Media has placed this trend at the top of both retailer’s and consumers concerns.

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Supply Chain Management

Supply Chain Management (SCM) is a network of connected and inter-dependent organisations mutually and co-operatively working together in order to control, manage and improve the flow of materials and information from suppliers to end users. Key Supply Chain Management (SCM) ensures that the supply chain process starts and finishes with the consumer by making sure that each interface in the supply chain represents: 1) movement of goods; 2) information flow; and 3) purchase and sale. As a result, strategic SCM consists of developing smarter ways to choose who to buy from and sell to your business partners.

Importance of the Supply Chain Management

It is aimed to achieve the following benefits for the company:

  • Competitive Advantage

Supply chain management is now well established as a key source of competitive advantage, and the competitiveness achieved in International market is without any doubt the most imperative gain attributable to global sourcing. However, this is usually based upon consumers’ perceptions of the added value aspects of the retailer’s overall offering (Mayer, 2014).

For major success, businesses need to achieve a clear performance differential over competition   on factors that are important to target customers. The most successful methods are built upon some combination of 3 advantages: 1) being better in providing superior quality or service; 2) being faster in responding to customers needs; as well as 3) being closer to establishing closer relationships with customers (Miller, 2008).

  • Improving Financial Performance (Sales & Profits)

This determines the overall performance of a company and it can subsequently be measured through a number of methods including: 1) Financial Review; 2) Quality performance and practice; 3) Delivery and physical flow of stock; and 4) Information sharing, extended relationships.

  • Consumer & Supplier Loyalty

The “value” may either take the form of selling undifferentiated products at below competitors’ prices or unique benefits that justify premium pricing. The value chain may be used to identify and understand the sources of competitive advantage and how they relate to creating added value for customers

As a result, Porter’s 5 Forces Model should be used by fashion retailers prior to choosing companies or partners to collaborate with in their global sourcing strategy in order to determine the extent of factors that directly influence business including:

  • Threat new entrants
  • Threat of substitutes
  • Bargaining power of buyers
  • Bargaining power of suppliers
  • Degree of rivalry

Proposed sourcing strategy

This part focuses on a discussion providing an analysis of sourcing criteria as well as recommendations on how the product could be progressed for the following season for an International market (Spring/Summer ‘17) including a valid critical path. The proposed sourcing strategy will mainly emphasize on the supply base analysis and the appropriate and valid critical path as discussed in sections below:

Supply Base Analysis

  • Current sourcing
    • Brief overview for current product

The current product is usually made of a mixture of fabrics whereby the shell of the garment is made from 60 % leather (which has been ethically sourced from Nepal) and 34% of Bamboo Viscose (Mesh) as well as 4 % of Elastane. In addition, the lining of the current product consists of 100% Bamboo Viscose. The current product is a leather panelled dress, and the assortment consists of sleeveless, short-sleeved as well as one-sleeved leather panelled dresses.

  • Proposed sourcing
    • Sourcing analysis for each garment, consider components

The proposed sourcing including H&M and Nepal will involve ethical sourcing of leather in Nepal through a partner based in the country. In addition, the processing of the bamboo viscose will also continue in Nepal and Bangladesh. However, the subsequent tanning or processing of the leather and the bamboo viscose will be shifted to Bangladesh which has the lowest Production Cost Index (PCI) of all sourcing countries across the world. Furthermore, the production of the garments upon approval of the designs will also continue in Bangladesh, and the finished products subsequently shipped to Europe.

  • PEST analysis for sourcing countries

The political situation in both Nepal and Bangladesh pose a risk to the sourcing activities undertaken considering that both countries are not significantly politically meaning that political upheavals may arise at any time and hinder production. There is also technology risk since both countries have not significantly adopted technology in the production processes meaning that the rate of production can not reach the level of the countries where technology has been significantly embraced.

  • Rationale for sourcing choice

A comparison of production costs across the world reveals sharp variations which an important determinant of the choices of sourcing countries for fashion retailers in Europe and the U.S. For example, many Asian countries have low Production Cost Index (PCI) with Bangladesh having the lowest Production Cost Index (PCI) of all sourcing countries across the world. Thus, these emerging markets are playing a significant role for many fashion retailers by acting sourcing countries, which is attributed to its lower social living costs and well established transportation infrastructure. As a result, there will b reduced production costs.

Critical Path   

The validated and appropriate critical path will be provided in the template shown below:

Conclusion                                                 

In conclusion, it can be observed that it is possible for a fashion product on offering by fashion retailers to be adequately analyzed and Illustrator proposals as well as assortment plans designed leading to the development of new garments which are more improved that those offered. However, in order for this to take place successfully the fashion retailer must establish an appropriate fashion forecasting trend mechanisms as well as an effective global sourcing and supply chain management systems.      

References

Akhil J. K. (2015). Fashion Forecasting. Retrieved from  http://libraries.uc.edu/libraries/daap/resources/researchguides/design/forecasting.html  

Birnbaum, D. (2000). Global Guide to Winning the Great Garment War.

Handfield, R. & Nichols, E. (1999). Introduction to Supply Chain Management.

H&M (2016). Conscious Exclusive 2016. Retrieved from http://about.hm.com/en/ImageGallery/fashion.html

Keiser, S. J. & Garner, M. B. (2008). Beyond Design: the Synergy of Apparel Product Development. New York, NY: Fairchild Publications.

Kerkhoff, G. et al. (2006).  Global Sourcing: Opportunities for the Future. Weinheim Düsseldorf: Wiley-VCH.

Kim, E., Fiore, A. M., & Kim, H. (2013). Fashion Trends: Analysis and Forecasting. Berg. ISBN 9780857853158.

Mayer, L. (2014) “Q&A with the Founder of SHIPSHOW”. Retrieved April 21, 2014.

Miller, C. C. (2008). Designers of High Fashion Enter the Age of High Tech: New York Times . 8 Sept. 2008. <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/08/technology/08trend.html?pagewanted=print&_r=0>.

Monczka, T. & Handfield, T. (2005). Purchasing and Supply Management, 3rd edition. New York, NY: Thomson South-Western.

NPR (2011) Forecasting Fashion Trends: NPR. NPR: National Public Radio: News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts: NPR. Web. 10 Apr. 2011. <http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1432978>.

Roth, T. & Pullman, G. (2008). Unraveling the Food Supply Chain: Strategic Insights from China and the 2007 Pet Food Recalls. Journal of Supply Chain Management, Vol. 44 Issue 1, pp. 22-39.

Websites

www.clothesource.net

www.labourbehindthelabel.org

www.businessoffashion.com

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