Matthijs Crietee represented the IAF as a panellist in a discussion that was part of a half day seminar at the FATEX Sourcing Fair in Paris. The title of the seminar, ‘come closer to selling’ describes the search of the industry for a better link between consumer demand and industry supply. Other pannelists were Jan Hilger, COO of Ahlers, a German conglomerate including Pierre Cardin, Peter Rinnebach of Kurt Salmon, independent consultant Dhyana van der Pols and Harry van de Zee, CEO of Dutch shirt, tie and accessorie specialist Micro Fashions. The panel was professionally led by Just Style’s editor in chief, Leonie Barrie.
It became clear in the discussion that the garment industry is, partly by nature and partly by the way it has evolved a rather inefficient industry. The greatest cost factor from the retail price perspective is the discount. This is also leading to devaluation of the product. The panelists agreed that a better use of consumer data available from retail, daring to make narrower collections and greater buyer-supplier collaboration are key elements for improvement. Still, this is not new. The real challenge is how to make it happen.
IAF’s main contribution to the discussion was the introduction of the huge importance of education in the supply chain. Necessary changes are often not made as a result of simply a lack of knowledge. It’s difficult to take the plunge, and choose for return on investment on the long term rather than aim only for short term gains, if the longer term gains are ill understood. Fashion schools and industry associations can play a crucial part in organizing the necessary industry education. IAF will certainly, through its link with IFFTI and its own membership, play a stimulating role.