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Why Rapid Digitization Requires a Next-Level Ecosystem of Fashion Tech

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For the fashion industry, inventory issues continue to be a persistent obstacle for many businesses.

In 2023, brands grappled with managing surplus stock while navigating the complexities of introducing new inventory mixes. However, in 2024, maintaining a “firm grip” on costs and inventories will be crucial for driving growth, according to a recent report from McKinsey and Company.

Having the right technology in place to ensure you are managing inventory, putting together the right assortment mix and pricing strategy, plus having clear visibility into your entire production process while maintaining margins is key to success. But it is often concerning to brands to understand which technology is the right one for their operations and when is the right time to implement it.  

Lectra strives to facilitate informed decision-making for customers while helping to continuously improve their operations,” said Ketty Pillet, vice president of marketing, Americas at Lectra. “As an Industry 4.0 pioneer, Lectra believes in the power of the cloud, big data and artificial intelligence to connect the upstream and downstream production processes, and brands can take advantage of this abundance of data to push boundaries and unlock their potential.”

To achieve its goal, Lectra offers brands a powerful ecosystem of software solutions—each of which is purpose-designed to manage a specific activity of the fashion value chain—to complement a range of other activities.

At the heart of managing data effectively is having a purpose-built suite of fashion PLM, PIM, DAM and benchmarking solutions. Lectra’s Kubix Link and Retviews are cloud-based collaborative platforms that help brands streamline collection management and product development and benchmarking, covering the entire design-to-sale process.

More than 300 fashion businesses have already adopted these technologies, including multinational fitness specialist and activewear company Zumba, which uses Kubix Link’s PLM capabilities. “Having 95 percent of our suppliers working in Kubix Link has changed our product life cycle visibility drastically. We can track more data than ever before and everyone gets real-time information,” said Lina Saldarriaga, vice president of design, product development and quality assurance at Zumba.

When considering advanced technology solutions to help anticipate market shifts and make sound business decisions to bolster sales, solutions that incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) are a driving force. Acquired in 2019 by Lectra, Retviews utilizes AI to analyze data in real-time to see what competitors are producing, at what prices and how those products are performing in the market. This helps fashion brands increase sales and margins.

“Retviews utilizes advanced image and text recognition for precise real-time market insights, ensuring unmatched data accuracy,” said Pillet. “Supporting data-backed decision-making, it helps optimize processes, reducing unsold stock and thereby controlling energy consumption. With insights from 5,000 global e-commerce websites, users gain details on products, fabrics, size availability and international prices, aiding in avoiding overproduction and reducing the carbon footprint.”

Integrated solutions

As a major player in the fashion, automotive and furniture markets, Lectra’s expertise and software solutions encompass everything from on-demand manufacturing to product design and development. But in 2022, the company got a new complementary piece to serve the growing desire for traceability and transparency in the apparel supply chain when it acquired TextileGenesis.

The scalable fiber-to-retail digital traceability platform for sustainable and conventional textiles offers complete transparency—not only to fiber producers, brands and retailers, but also to the textile industry—throughout the value chain.

The TextileGenesis platform stems from early talks with sustainable and verified fiber producers like Lenzing, Schneider Group and the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, noted Amit Gautam, founder and CEO of TextileGenesis, a Lectra company, who formerly worked at fiber firm Lenzing.

“Faced with the complexity of the textile supply chain, those producers felt the need for a robust and scalable traceability solution that could prove that allegedly ‘sustainable’ marketed products were truly made from their virtuous raw material,” he added. “At the same time, at the other end of the value chain, brands and retailers increasingly felt the need for a reliable tool that could securely back the claim that their garments were made of these premium fibers. Traceability was needed at both ends to legitimize sustainable offers, meet customers’ expectations and comply with rising regulations. As a response to these issues, TextileGenesis was born.”

While each of Lectra’s solutions bring a level of digitalization to different areas of the fashion value chain, their combined usage empowers fashion brands by fostering agility, streamlining processes, enhancing collaboration, maximizing visibility and facilitating swift decision-making. This integrated approach addresses complexity and meets the fashion sector’s demanding speed-to-market requirements.

In fact, Pillet noted the “real advantage” of having a full lineup of software from the same developer. “What makes this product offering so powerful and unique is that these solutions complement each other throughout the value chain,” she added. “When brands integrate these solutions, they can go from market analysis to sales swiftly and effectively. While these tools have already made waves in the industry, we’re excited to continue developing and perfecting them to really streamline our efforts.”

Swiss fashion brand Bally, for example, chose Lectra to guide it through its digital transformation. Following the successful implementation of the Kubix Link PLM solution, the brand opted to further enhance its capabilities by integrating Retviews as well. Through this collaboration with Lectra, Bally has optimized each stage of its collection lifecycle, from product development to sales.

“Our goal was to create and share all the information from our historical archives, as well as data on the current season and on competitor activities, with the entire supply chain,” said Alessandro Ponti, global IT director at Bally. “Kubix Link is the only solution that helps us to digitize and archive all these elements, supporting collection development, while Retviews enables us to automate our benchmarking activities. The compatibility of these Lectra solutions is a real plus and enables us to manage our collections and their sales process from A to Z.”

To learn more about Lectra and its digital offerings, click here.

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