Interview with Simon Fernandes

Simon Fernandes
Simon Fernandes
Regional Director UK - Southern Europe - South Asia

What new innovations and trends are surging in terms of merchandising and supply chain in the apparel industry?

We have seen a considerable increase in companies that offer consumer profiling in a variety of ways. At Alvanon, we look at consumer interfacing technology that can allow real-time profiling, in a true retail environment, of who is actually in stores. Are they male or female? How old are they? What sizes are they? When are they visiting the stores, which departments are they in and which routes do they take through the stores? These and other analytics can help brands and retailers understand whether they are merchandising the right product in the right size in the right place for the right person. 

Another trend empowering consumers is via feedback. We are becoming more and more influenced by fellow consumers, not necessarily in apparel, but in general. In the United Kingdom, 7 of 10 adults will not purchase from a brand unless they have positive reviews. Couple this with the 92 per cent of CEOs who say online reviews affect their revenue positively and you can see the consumer demand for reviews and the need for companies to have them. (source: eCommerce Insights)

Who are your major clients? Do you plan to explore new markets? If yes, please elaborate.

We work with almost every major retailer and brand in the United States of America, Canada and Europe, and have expanded to China, Japan, India, Turkey, the Middle East, South Africa, Mexico and Colombia. Future target markets include Brazil, Chile and Argentina, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. As middle class consumers emerge with a hunger for fashion and global brands, we hope to be there to ensure that their fit and sizing needs are properly met.

In which geographies are manufacturers optimising on form and fit and in which regions are manufacturers still lagging behind?

It is difficult to generalise about geographies where manufacturers are optimising on form and fit, and where they are not. There are leaders and laggards in every market. In the United States of America, where we have tons of consumer data, for example, there are retailers who still ignore the data and follow their instincts season to season, producing massively inconsistent products. Markets where there is little consumer data, like India for example, make it more difficult for brands to optimise fit but there are still some very successful brands there. The ones that have controls and processes in place that ensure fit consistency will always outperform the ones who do not ensure as much technical integrity.

What goes into the research of body types to achieve a good fit for a client?

We conduct scan studies worldwide to collect data on body types. We also collect data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States of America, the World Health Organization and from various National Health Services. However, no matter how much data you collect, you need to have the expertise in place to sort and analyse it to become commercially relevant. Any recommendations Alvanon makes, based on our findings, reflect the target demographics' needs and are relevant to our clients' strategic growth plans.

What percentage of the global apparel industry uses 3D body scanning or other such advanced technologies for fitting purposes?

A very small percentage of the global industry uses body scanning to help in fit and sizing. It could be as low as 1 per cent. Yet, much of the industry and indeed, all of our clients have access to the results of body scanning through our analysis, consulting and guidance, as well as the physical mannequins and 3D avatars we provide. We have a massive database of consumer scans that we can filter and sort as necessary to advise brands almost anywhere in the world on how to optimise their sizing and fit strategy. Moving forward, we hope to train the next generation of product developers, though our professional development seminars and workshops, in how to take advantage of the wide variety of new 3D technologies and tools.

What challenges are involved in researching, developing a product, and training for an ever-changing industry like fashion? What is budget allocated for R&D at Alvanon?

One challenge is to make sure that the technologies employed in developing products have the relevant features to help, rather than hinder. They must meet the needs of the business in question and are as "future proof" as possible. We all know the speed with which technology developments are accelerating. Adopting the right one can be challenging in terms of time and investment. As fashion is an ever-changing entity, it is important to know what is happening in the real world rather than becoming siloed within a business where we might lose touch with what is influencing the consumer. At Alvanon, we are constantly investing in new technologies and services to provide an ever-expanding range of solutions.
Published on: 24/09/2016

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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