"Nearly 50 percent materials such as multi-colored prints and textured materials can’t be measured by a traditional spectrophotometer. For these, the industry has introduced innovative spectrophotometers that offer the benefits of digital color measurement and communication to this previously neglected category. The new technology is already shortening the development and production process."
To say that fashion and apparel purchasing trends have changed over the years would be a gross understatement. Seasonal and designer-driven apparels, earlier marketed in retail outlets, are now sold on social networking platforms within seconds of being launched.
This is pressurising apparel brands to condense their product lifecycle and respond to trends at record speed. As a recent McKinsey survey revealed, around 80 percent apparel companies are working on improving their delivery speeds with an additional 19 percent planning to improve within the next 12 months.
Both large and small apparel brands are trying to achieve quicker, more efficient turnarounds while staying true to their brand identity and maintaining quality.
Need to focus on the color palette
However, one factor these brands tend to overlook is the selection of proper colors for their apparels. As there are only limited colors that can be successfully applied to specific types of fabric, brands need to pay special attention to their palette creation. They need to work with color specialists to ensure that all technical limitations of colors are taken into account from the very beginning and don’t contribute to production delays.
They also need to communicate these colors across their supply chain. This will eliminate differences in visual evaluations which can lead to sample rejections, wastage of time and confusion. For this, the industry relies upon specialised equipment, such as spectrophotometers, and quality control software to digitally measure and communicate colors between brands and their suppliers. These tools capture accurate, repeatable color measurements that can be precisely communicated down the supply chain — regardless of location, individual color perception or other influencing factors.
New technologies to shorten delivery times
However, nearly 50 percent materials such as multi-colored prints and textured materials can’t be measured by a traditional spectrophotometer. For these, the industry has introduced innovative spectrophotometers that offer the benefits of digital color measurement and communication to this previously neglected category. The new technology is already shortening the development and production process.
Dealing with color approval bottlenecks
However, digitisation alone will not solve the problem of speed to market. Often, slower and faulty deliveries are also a result of disconnect in the supply chain. This can be attributed, in part, to poor transparency, a lack of accountability among suppliers and the absence of real-time data to inform decision making. For this, brands need to choose the right suppliers who can not only ensure correct color-fabric combinations, but also approve samples and expedite the production cycles.
The approval of color and fabric sample is one of the common bottlenecks in this development cycle. This can be lengthy and challenging process; especially when a brand needs to match colors from different sources. As a result, brands often require multiple rounds of physical lab dips and strike offs until a sample is finally approved. To avoid this, brands should prioritise certain certifying mills to approve their own colors and provide real-time data for tracking purposes. This will eliminate many approval rounds and allows mills to focus on other issues like improving their product quality, ensuring quicker deliveries and cost –efficiency.