At times there is no demand existing in the market, but the demand needs to be created in the market by wooing the consumers. What do you think about this strategy? How far this is a success?
Textiles and clothing are not consumer electronics. Fashion has the potential to do so (to a certain extent) and the major existing fashion brands have clear strategies on what is their best return, on price setting, product development, innovation, ... When looking at consumer behaviour, I would like to compare textile and clothing more to the consumption of food products - it is a primary need with a top segment of premium products. It is not a market that can be compared to electronics, smart phones, tablets and the like.
Waste management and sustainable production are the key issues faced by the manufacturers these days. How your company addresses such issues?
Already in the early nineties of the last century, Werner International executed a full analysis on the environmental impact of fibers, textiles and clothing in every production and consumption process. For us, this is a key issue and it is integral part of our consulting
Support through operational programmes - we all know there is no room in today's manufacturing for second quality, raw material waste, low efficiency, high energy consumption and low productivity. These all have a detrimental effect on the production cost. We at Werner see sustainability not only in terms of raw material, energy, and waste - but equally in terms of human resources and innovation efficiency. We are not addressing this nowadays any different from the past: it was and is an integral part of our production and control systems.
For few companies claiming eco-friendly is just a marketing gimmick. What are your views on this statement?
The environmental impact on the manufacturing of textiles and clothing will be one of the most important factors in future textile production. The future will show a big pressure on cotton growing around the globe. Not only will cotton growing be competing with food crops, most of the important growing areas are also located in water sensitive areas. The circular economy is becoming more important - technically it is possible to recycle polyester almost fully for production of textiles and clothing. However, some governments are protecting their investment in polyester fiber production by discouraging the recycling of textile materials. For some companies, Eco-friendly production may be not more than a marketing gimmick because they focus on this from a consumer point of view. It will however become more and more an essential part in the manufacturing process because of environmental and cost issues and that will be much more than just a marketing gimmick.
Do you think the emergence as well as rise of e-tailing has brought some new management challenges into the industry?
Definitely, but we also see that many e-tailers are struggling with profitability mainly due to the inefficiencies in the logistics process. For textile companies and clothing brands it is an opportunity for diversifying the sales channels, not a substitution. One should however be careful not to damage brand recognition or cannibalize other sales channels: management has to develop a strategy incorporating e-tailing, integrating this as a new and additional channel of distribution.
To conclude, from a management point of view, these are the following areas that required special attention:
- Marketing: consistency in branding and image building,
- Sales: channel integration with traditional sales channels,
- Logistics: many companies are suffering from high cost of returns,
- Communication: for manufacturers this is offering an opportunity to directly communicate with their end-customers.
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