In his address to the annual meeting of the International Foundation of Fashion Technologies Institutes (IFFTI) in Tokyo, IAF secretary general Han Bekke urged the fashion sector to rethink its business models. The apparel industry worldwide is still too much focused on price which in some cases leads to dramatic situations like last year in Bangladesh.
“The economic situation in important markets for apparel has a negative impact on consumer spending on clothing”, Bekke said, “feeling also the intense competition from fast fashion models, fashion retailers often react with mark downs with heavy pressure on margins as a result. The question where can I produce the cheapest is then asked more often than how can I serve the consumer best. This is no longer sustainable and kills creativity and innovation.”
In Bekke’s view more cooperation in the supply chain is needed. “Rethink your business model”, he suggested when it comes to fast fashion versus slow fashion. The sector should focus more on value and service and should be more open to innovation. Business models should be based on global responsibility and more transparency.
“The apparel supply chain is based on series of human behaviour and behaviour is taught”, Bekke said. In IAF’s view educational institutes have therefore a major part to play here in order to prepare new generations for the future challenges of the sector. In their curriculum, fashion universities should pay more attention to calculation methods, planning, global responsibility, ways of communication in the supply chain, chemistry and software.
“Working with world class suppliers could help fashion universities to better understand innovations in the supporting industry”, Bekke told his audience of deans, professors and lecturers from IFFTI’s membership.
The IAF is the world’s leading federation for apparel manufacturers, their associations, apparel retailers and brands and the supporting industry. IAF’s membership now includes apparel associations from nearly 60 countries representing over 200,000 companies.