Dover Digital Printing, the group which encompasses MS Printing Solutions, Caldera Software, and Kiian Digital, has released a new white paper which looks at the effect COVID19 has had on the apparel industry business model, and considers how digitising the manufacturing process offers enhanced sustainability and a new way forward.
The White Paper is targeted at DDP’s customer base and will be shared with the trade press, as well as being available for download from the Dover Digital Printing website.
The 11-page report focuses on how the pandemic has affected the textile industry. As consumer demand for new clothing fell because people were no longer going to schools, offices, and events, the already strained supply chain infrastructure became yet more fragile. Although online sales held up, and a return of retail footfall is expected over the coming months, the experience has starkly illuminated a broken business model.
The problem was already apparent before the pandemic hit sales. The drive towards fast fashion, steep discounting, and high retail rents had already created an industry that was teetering on the brink. The pandemic resulted in a high number of fashion retailer bankruptcies, but the majority of these businesses were already floundering before Covid 19 hit. As larger and larger proportions of company’s collections were sold at discount, gross margins across the industry started to fall. This put pressure on textile suppliers and manufacturers to create items at the lowest sustainable levels. In other words, there was no slack to give when the pandemic wreaked further chaos across the industry.
The first half of this report makes for sobering reading. The industry trades on a basis that was set up for economies of scale, but demand has shrunk and consumer buying habits have changed — there is a growing preference for greater sustainability. The DDP White Paper proposes a solution to the problems facing the textile industry. It identifies compelling reasons why digital printing of textiles is going to play a much larger role in fashion moving forward, and why this trend will result in compressed production times and supply chains.
The additional value of digital printing is its ability to increase the number of versions in a collection, and to offer just-in-time to respond to changes in demand. This dramatically reduces the need for discounting, which in turn reduces waste. Any reduction in unsold inventory is a win in terms of sustainability, as is digital printing’s substantially lower water demand and its contribution towards on-shoring. According to Abhi Agrawal, President of Dover Digital Printing, “Despite the short-term challenges in the market, Dover is continuing to support investments, and expanding resources and capabilities in digital printing platforms and customer service. As the market continues to evolve and adapt to the shifting consumer and fashion trends, finding a new business model is key to taking or keeping a competitive business advantage.” In other words, digital printing is a key tool to reduce the excessive discounting business model and put value back into apparel".