Sourcing fabric is one the most important and challenging jobs in the apparel industry. Even a little mistake can cost thousands of dollars.
But how do you know what is the right length of fabric to be ordered for a particular style? How do you know what buffer is required to be added to your fabric length to cut all the pieces with minimum wastage? Who is the right vendor? What are the width and shrinkage parameters he will give me so that I can plan my buying effectively?
It is a difficult job as the planner has to calculate accurate consumptions with inaccurate numbers or estimates.
You end up buying too much or too little. You either have yards of dead stock or huge losses in short shipment.
Here are the 5 major problems you face while buying fabric, today.
1. No Size Breakup
Buying of fabric happens much prior to actual execution of order on the floor owing to the large lead times. More than often, fabric is bought even before actual size breakup is given by buyer. An order with more requirement of the larger sizes is bound to require more fabric than an order with more requirement of smaller sizes despite having the same total order quantity. This makes ordering fabric buying a tricky task.
2. No Information of Incoming Fabric
A manufacturer has very little control over the fabric incoming from the mills. Despite guidelines for the fabric to vendor, variations are inevitable. There is no knowledge of the accurate widths and shrinkages of the fabric.1000 m of fabric in 155cm width will be more than 1000 m in 145cm width. This leads to hidden wastages and inaccurate buying.
3. Arriving at Consumption per Garment
Varying methods are used in various factories in order to calculate the consumption per garment for an order. Some factories use historical data while others create estimated markers to arrive at this consumption which are far from the final production plans. However, none of these give an accurate consumption for buying resulting in variation between floor requirement and actual fabric ordered.
4. Addition of Process Loss
An additional buffer is added to the final consumption to accommodate the process losses faced in the factory. This is an umbrella percentage. Several times this process loss percentage leads to excess or short buying as the merchandiser does not know what is the exact wastage percentage for a particular fabric, fir or style.
5. Too Many Orders
In most factories, buying happens in bulk. Fabric for thousands of orders is required to be ordered simultaneously. This is a long, tedious and time consuming process prone to mistakes owing the manual calculations.
With as many variables as above, how do we expect our merchandisers to accurately calculate how much fabric to procure for every order?
Keep an eye out on this space for an in depth explanation of your buying woes and simple ways to combat them.
By Mausmi Ambastha