The Supply Chain of the Fashion Industry


Because I run my own fashion line, people often ask me :'How do you Set Up a FASHION LABEL?' Even though multi-tasking is a skill you will need if your dream is to run your own fashion label, there are some specialized roles that you will need to outsource. Figure out how many roles you can handle and which ones you want to delegate? You could choose to hire them or work on a project basis... The average pay is £25/hour. Jobs take between 2 days to 3 weeks, depending on what the task is - (much more for Haute Couture) The more knowledge you've got as a designer, and the more specific plan you have for your services/products and your business model the more you will save you money.


Here are 4 STEPS and  17 roles of the key people in the supply chain of the fashion industry. Every single role in this chain is extremely important and demands PASSION and people with specialist SKILLS.


                                                    STEP. 1


                              Fashion Trends Research - Task for:


                                 1- Fashion designer - or ''ideas master'' is responsible for the concept of each collection, the silhouette, collection development, the fabrics choices, the textile choices or design, and at least a rough sketches of the collection, (it is really helpful if a fashion designer can sew, do initial pattern cutting/drapes to determine exactly how they intend the garment to sit on the body) keeping in mind how the garment will be constructed. They research trends even if they don't follow them in their designs. They keep inform of every social influences such as dance, music, art and medias and others... They create mood boards and a range for their product.


                                    2- Fashion forecaster - or ''Trend master/researcher''. Their task is to research online trade site, attend trade shows and fashion events. Depending on how big your company is, you might need to hire a specialist fashion forecaster ( or the annual spending on trend research and insight can be up to 50k and more, depending on your market and the size of your company. You could also use trend research agencies for the latest on the fashion field. The trends forecaster understands influences that effects your target customer. They truly are masters in identifying which direction the fashion industry is moving in, and the fashion designer will create their collection accordingly.


                                    3- Buyer - or ''Designers best friends'' buyers are in charge. without them, is basically a waste of time for designers if they don't sale the new collection that they work so hard on. Designers needs sales orders to be secured. They therefore need a buyer to like them but love their collection enough to want to see it, in the hope that they will place an order for the independent boutiques or department stores they work for. Because buyers are responsible for planning the new range each season, they take bride in choosing the right designers and collections for who ever they represents. Buyers have a lot of power. If you don't follow the blue print set by the industry, it could be impossible to meet one. But it is also possible to simply be in the right place at the right time.


                                                   STEP. 2


                                                Design Development - Task for:


                                                    ( Fashion designer - Buyer )

                                    4- Pattern Cutter - or ''Master of technical'' at the heart of garment construction processes. The absolute importance of a pattern cutter depends on the market you are designing for... A mass market project could only use their services for 1 silhouette for that season, that will then be graded into 3 different sizes and produced in tousents or even millions pieces. Pattern cutters are more expensive when the production have more styles, limited edition, designer and couture. their role is to turn every single sketch of the designer into accurate patterns, (after multiple toiles) that will used to make samples, and for the production of the collection.


                                    5-  Merchandiser - or ''Buyer psychic...'' they work closely with the buying team, working out together what the next season will be like...based on sale figures analysis of the previous season. The are often responsible to managing a big budget. They are in charge of the supply chain - carefully dealing and monitoring the communication with suppliers. They aim is always to maximize sales, by strategically deciding on the product mix that season.


                                   6Sample machinist - or '' 5* Skilled with industrial sewing machines'' They are simply extremely good delicately sewing straight lines, curves and pointy parts of a garment with very fast machines. They need to be trained to work with all type of fabrics, which presents a variety of challenges, and the garment will need to be made from the exact specifications of the pattern, and the finishing of the piece to a high standard.


                                                  STEP. 3


                                                          Production - Task for:


                              (Fashion designer - Pattern Cutter - Merchandiser - Buyer )

                                 7Production manager - or ''The Manager'' he is in charge Sampling and production... he makes sure that the collection is on budget, and deliver to buyers on schedule. He liaise with the sale team to work out the quantity that needs to be produce. He will also be the one to outsource suppliers if need be, and negotiate prices with the effort to keep costs low.


                                  8Grader - or ''Sizes Master'' the grader work with designers and pattern cutters - in some cases, a pattern cutter is also a grader - these are very skilled people... The grader create a size range for every single SKU or style from the initial pattern by developing a sizing structure.


                                  10Fabric/Textiles technologist - or ''Cannot do Without!'' This is only if you are a couture brand...they work with designers to find quality fabric, (and original textiles) that are durable and on budget. They will ensure the standard of the fabrics used is maintained throughout the production.


                                  11Quality controller - or ''Headmaster of the samples'' They basically have a red pen if need be, to point out what they've discovered have to change. They are know to literally measure garments, that they will compare with the originals to make sure that they are the exact replica.


                                                     STEP. 4


                                                     Distribution and Sales - Task for:



                                 12Sales Manager - # ''sales strategist

13- Merchandiser

14- PR&Marketing manager

15- Retail manager

16- Fashion Photographer

17- Stylists - Fashion Journalists -



 A Bientot!x

Grace EkallComment