Lead Forensics

Abandoning fashion seasons means garment rail production needs flexibility

The garment industry needs lots of rails, and garment rail production needs to keep up with demand.

Peak demand times used to follow the seasons. More clothes are bought at Christmas and when the winter and summer collections are launched, but there are signs of change in the garment industry, with some suggesting that it is time to abandon the traditional fashion seasons altogether. If this happens, garment rail manufactures will need to change their production schedules.

Is it time to abandon the seasons?

There was a time when it was easy to predict a peak demand for clothes. Fashion houses like Burberry and Gucci, and high street retailers such as Next and Marks & Spencer used to launch their winter and summer collections and expect a high demand when their new ranges hit the shops.

Many fashion houses launched their range at fashion shows, but there was a delay from seeing clothes on the catwalk until they hit the shops.

A few years ago, a demand was created for more frequent lines to be launched. Consumers wanted new clothing ranges more frequently. They also wanted to wear the clothes as soon as they were seen at the fashion shows. Thus put a lot of pressure on designers and manufacturers, almost to breaking point.

Some fashion houses have started to change their strategies. Burberry announced that it was streamlining its operations by combining its menswear and ladieswear into two annual shows, but they promised to have the clothes available immediately available after the shows online and in retail shops.

Other fashion designers such as American Diane Von Furstenburg have abandoned the fashion show, preferring to invite select clients to her design studio to see her new designs.

More radically, some clothes designers and manufacturers have abandoned the traditional seasonal approach. If clothes are regarded as belonging to a season, they effectively have a sell-by date. If a garment is selling well, it is argued, there is no reason to stop selling it just because the seasons have changed.

It should also be remembered that the UK and the world climate has changed because of global warming. Last month, as temperatures rose in the UK, people abandoned their winter coats when going outside. Meanwhile, there are days in the summer when it is very cold. Many Britons escape the winter in Britain for a holiday abroad in a warm country and need lightweight clothes, not shops full of winter wear.

Changing demand means that some designers are abandoning the seasonal approach to fashion and designing clothes with no particular season in mind. They want the flexibility of being able to provide all types of garments for their customers, from lightweight blouses to thick wool jumpers.

At the end of a fashion season, clothes are either disposed of or sold by discount retailers like TK Maxx. Some might argue that this is wasteful, and that if there are no seasons, nothing needs to be thrown away or sold at discount prices, unless it is a very slow selling line.

Many in the clothing trade still stick with the traditional fashion seasons, but Antiform is a leading garment manufacturer that is no longer governed by seasons and fashion show dates. It attends just one show a year, the Ethical Fashion Show in Berlin. The stores it supplies appreciate the flexibility of ordering either T-shirts or Fishermen Knot sweaters at any time of the year.

Fluctuating demand for garment rails

The fashions seasons still exist for many clothing manufacturers, but if more follow the Antiform strategy, distinct seasons will cease to be important. However, there will probably still be a peak demand at Christmas.

The logistics challenge for clothing manufacturers and retailers is having flexible storage. In the seasonal model, when seasonal lines are launched, there is a high demand for clothes and they all need to be stored prior to shipping.

It could be that if the fashion seasons no longer are in effect, demand for garments will be more even, except perhaps during the weeks leading up to Christmas.

If customers respond to the nonseasonal model by demanding lightweight and heavyweight clothes are on sale at all times, the garment companies that respond to this will grow and will need to buy more garment rails.

All businesses in the garment trade need flexible storage. Warehouses cannot shrink or grow on demand but some organisations have the ability to rent temporary storage space at peak times.

Garment rails that can easily be stored when not needed are useful. Garment rail production companies produce rails that fit together more easily when not in use to save space. Another effect of the seasonal model is that winter clothes tend to take up more space than light summer wear, so the garment trade needs various types of storage rails designed for different clothes. Ideally, shops should have flexible garment rail systems that can be changed and adapted for hanging the different types of clothes.

Fluctuating demand is a logistics issue for many businesses. Some companies have their own warehouses, but smaller businesses may rent space in large warehouses with the option of leasing more space as demand grows. If they do this they need a pool of garment rails that can be quickly operational or stored as and when they are needed.

The future of fashion

Many retailers that sell clothes have seen their profits fall. These include Marks & Spencer and Debenhams, but this is not the case across the whole of the industry. JD Sports, Primark and Zara are doing well.

People still love buying clothes, but their shopping habits are changing. There has been a large growth in online sales, and many no longer want the emphasis on fashion seasons.

Though there have been many developments in automated systems in warehouses, most garment manufacturers and retailer still use traditional garment rails because of their practicality and flexibility. Garment rail production will continue to be successful for manufacturers that produce well-made durable garment rails from tubular steel, with quality casters that make them easy to move and steer.

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