The emerging trend of apparel design outsourcing

Written by: Fibre2Fashion

Apparel design outsourcing is the latest trend in the world of fashion and apparel. It is a fast growing business in the KPO (Knowledge process outsourcing) sector. More and more apparel producing firms are turning to apparel design outsourcing units (ADO units) for their requirements.

What exactly is an ADO unit? It is nothing but a unit that indulges in apparel design on behalf of some other firm. It is a part of the KPO industry, wherein the skill set required is talent in fashion designing and creativity.

India is becoming a hot spot for ADO units. Initially, India used to be viewed as a major manufacturing hub for foreign apparel producers, but now this trend is changing. Apparel was designed in USA or UK, while production was undertaken in India, China and Sri Lanka. The focus was on the quantity of production and the cost. Nowadays, however, Indian ADO units are taking up the complete task of apparel designing and production on behalf of such firms. This change is taking place as the area of focus is shifting from the quantity to the quality of production. Even Indian apparel producing firms are turning to ADOs instead of in-house designers for their design and production requirements.

Indian garment manufacturers like Madura Garments and Arvind have their own in-house team of designers, who handle the job of designing apparel for the firm. The line of work of an in-house designer and a designer engaged in an ADO unit is basically the same. However, there is only one major difference. An in-house designer works specifically for one single firm, while a designer in an ADO unit undertakes designing for a number of firms. Upcoming fashion designers are now realizing the high risks and competition involved in starting their own label and are now looking to apparel design outsourcing firms as a great opportunity to showcase their talents. Working with an ADO unit also gives a designer scope to experiment and expand his/her creativity.

When does a firm approach an ADO unit? A firm approaches an ADO unit when a new brand is to be launched. In this case, the ADO unit studies various factors in detail such as the market, the tastes and preferences of the customers and the budget of the firm. The data collected is analyzed by experts and accordingly, apparel is designed. The ADO unit sometimes also undertakes production and packaging of the product.

Secondly, a firm might approach an ADO unit when it wishes to change the look of its existing brand. This is usually done if the brand is not doing well in the market. It might decide to change the positioning in the market or change its target group of customers. In this case also, the functions of the ADO unit are similar. Data is collected on the market trends and customer preferences. A careful analysis of this data is done and keeping in view the budget of the firm as well as the image that the firm wants to portray through the brand, the ADO unit comes up with a new design. Then, production and packaging of the final product might be undertaken.

Thus besides fashion designers, there are several other people also engaged in the activity of apparel designing such as researchers, graphic designers, accessory designers, textile designers as well as all those engaged in production and packaging.

Why is India becoming the hub for ADO units? This is because of the availability of cheap raw material and labor in India as well as the high level of talent and creativity in Indian fashion designers. Moreover, India has a rich heritage of traditional crafts.

Who can work as a designer in an ADO unit? ADO units prefer designers who have a degree from a reputed fashion institute. A high degree of creativity, the ability to observe and think ‘out of the box’, an inherent desire to learn, the ability to positively accept criticism and improve, the attitude to pay attention to minute details, the ability to forecast future trends, good communication and administration skills as well as the ability to handle multitasking are the other preferred abilities for a designer to be hired by an ADO unit.

The ability to multitask is very essential for an ADO unit designer because at times, he has to deal with a number of clients simultaneously. Sometimes, he has to work for national as well as international clients at the same time, whose requirements are completely different. Moreover, apart from designing apparel, he also needs to interact with the production and research team and other individuals. ADO designers need to travel extensively and study individuals belonging to diverse cultures. Usually, a designer is offered an initial pay package of around Rs.15000 per month. The work culture in ADO units is generally free, where employees are given a lot of opportunities to experiment and create new things.

With design costs in India being as low as 1/10 of that in other countries and the talents of Indian fashion designers being acknowledged throughout the world, India has vast opportunities to prove itself in the field of apparel design outsourcing.


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