STYLE, FASHION, BRAND IMAGE- these are the words capture the imagination of consumers shopping out for values in apparel items. The increasing globalisation, the market diversification and the volatile fashion intensify competition in the apparel chain. As a consequence, companies are forced to gain market shares by increasing product diversity to improve market share.

The diversity factor, which is largely determined by various consumer perceivable attributes of apparel like design, handle, size and fit, leads to corresponding wide spectrum of manufacturing parameters in upstream direction. This variability in production parameters and corresponding small batch size are major deterrents in achieving delivery schedule and quality standards, which severely affect the marketability of a brand. This is a typical problem faced by apparel supply chain, where scheduling of work becomes complicated by the introduction of a highly diverse range of products.

This complexity makes management of a given product basket with respect to time, cost and serviceability more difficult. Moreover, product replenishment in apparel supply chain assumes new dimension, as global sourcing becomes the order of the day, with raw material supply, manufacturing, garmenting, distribution and retailing- all are dispersed across the globe. Under this circumstance, it becomes mandatory to "to get the right product to the right place at the right time at the right price". However, while too much emphasis has been given to control the "place", "time" and "price" factor, very little effort has been spent to manage the "right product" in an apparel supply chain. It is crucial to analyse the impact of proliferation of product mix on the operational platform in the apparel supply chain. This article makes an effort to bring out some of the impacts of product-proliferation infested the textile-apparel manufacturing chain and the way forward.

Nature of Product Variety:

Consumer perceives apparel merchandise through a unique set of attributes. The Unique Value Proposition (UVP) of an apparel item is governed by visual and other sensation (Exhibit 1). These subjective sensations can be captured through objective parameters like design, comfort and handle. Each of these objective parameters is influenced by various material & process characteristics in the upstream direction of apparel chain, as shown in the Exhibit-1.