Hong Kong, December 2020 – The global apparel market is forecasted to reach USD 992 billion by 2021. With labor costs keep increasing across China and ASEAN countries, apparel brands are forced to come up with cost-cutting measures. Our latest white paper, “ Digital Transformation in the Apparel Industry: How to Improve Efficiency in Apparel Factory Supply Chain ,” developed alongside Brother Machinery (Asia) Limited (BMA) highlights that going digital is key for the apparel industry to address this issue.

In Asia, the strict pandemic lockdown has resulted in the apparel industry to lose over 70% of functions, and has decreased the total sewing machine operating hours in India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Indonesia to 27%. Consequently, this brings new opportunities for apparel brands to look at digital options for their business. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the push for digital transformation, with global spending on digital transformation technologies and services expected to increase to USD 1.3 trillion by end of 2020.

“COVID-19 speeds up the digitalization process in apparel, following an increased awareness among brands and manufacturers. As many factories have been forced to shut down, this challenging period should be taken as an opportunity to adopt digital transformation in order to alleviate long-term future costs burden while also improving efficienc y ,” says Satoshi Kuriga, Partner at YCP Solidiance. In the live webinar conducted for the launch, it was also discussed that most apparel brands have recognized the urgency to move quickly to digital solutions to address the cost and time issues.

How Digitalization Can Bring the Apparel Industry Forward

As business strategies are harder to maintain, and the Asian labor market is no longer the cheapest, apparel brands see potential in digitalization as the approach to save cost in the long run. In addition to hardware technology advancement, using integrated IoT systems has increased 5% of apparel production and cut time and cost by 88%.

Gen Kimura , General Manager at BMA explains, “ Digital transformation journey in the apparel sector starts from automated machinery, passing the IoT integration and aiming at ecosystem coordination. This process aims to maximize the power of data and further enhance the efficiency of the manufacturing production, toward which the apparel industry is currently moving.”

Prior to adopting digital transformation, we suggest apparel manufacturers consider the following:

● Understand the needs : Realize the current problem and how digital transformation will resolve those problems.

● Make initiative prioritization : Evaluate the needs and the urgency of prioritized problems, and identify feasible solutions.

● Implementing IoT and data visualization : Implementing the software and hardware must have
visualized data to proceed to the analysis step.

● Data analysis and action : Help manufacturers understand what needs to be improved.