Is apparel manufacturing coming home?

Tomorrow’s successful apparel companies will be those that take the lead to enhance the apparel value chain on two fronts: nearshoring and automation. Both must be addressed, and in a sustainable way. Apparel brands and retailers in Europe and the United States can no longer do business as usual and expect to thrive.

Owing to stagnation in Western markets and to the internet, competition is fiercer than ever, and consumer demand is more difficult to predict. Mass-market apparel brands and retailers are competing with pure-play online start-ups, the most successful of which can replicate new styles and get them to customers within weeks. Furthermore, apparel companies have lost much of their clout in setting the tone. In most mass-market categories, today’s hottest trends are determined by individual influencers and consumers rather than by the marketing departments of fashion companies. Pressure on profitability due to decreasing full-price sell-through, as well as increasing concerns regarding the environmental impact of overproduction, call for agile production in smaller batch sizes and for on-demand replenishment.

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