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Correcting the apparel supply chain

The apparel supply chain has gone wrong. The current chaos, whether companies are willing to embrace it or not, must be acknowledged and accordingly accommodated. The sourcing sector’s current corporate culture hasn’t adequately embraced or acknowledged the chaos that comes with necessary change.

Though the industry—whether at sourcing conferences, trade shows, during executive pitches and the like—has embraced all the right buzzwords that lend the appearance of evolution and advancement, few have quite unlocked the key to retail as they believe they have.

Sourcing executives are afraid to change. What if they invest too heavily in data and technology and don’t see a return? What if they bring in the wrong service provider? Or move production to the wrong country? When business goes awry, sourcing executives are always quick to point fingers at their factory partners. It’s either that the factory can’t accommodate the need for more SKUs or fewer pieces per style or a quicker turnaround. Dramatic change can hardly take shape in the midst of like-minded people still surrounded by outmoded ideals. Change comes from different perspectives and from stepping outside of comfort zones, and the failure to embrace these two efforts is where the apparel supply chain has gone wrong.