(Image courtesy of Texintel)
Simon Platts, CEO and co-founder of RE-UP was formerly the Responsible Sourcing and ESG director of ASOS, and prior to that he held a key role within another UK fashion behemoth, the brand Next. As a fashion industry practitioner for more than three decades, he holds the knowledge, experience, and industry insight required to successfully navigate change.
The fashion industry is in uncharted territory and on the brink of reform. So what actions are required today, and how can they be achieved?
We caught up with Simon ahead of the Kornit UK Live event on June 21 to discuss systemic change and the rewire of fashion with three key concepts front of mind: collaboration, transparency, and knowledge transfer. What do we need, how can it be achieved (at warp speed), and how do we educate all partners across the supply chain?
To frame the conversation, Simon explained:
“The apparel industry can be very inefficient. Up to 60% of cost in the price of a garment can be the fabric alone, but it doesn’t matter what you’re paying if nobody is buying it. We need to be smarter at the front end to be more profitable at the back end.”
According to Platts, it’s critical that brands acknowledge that consumers want the latest styles while knowing they’re not contributing to ecological harm globally—increasingly choosing to build a more conscientious legacy for future generations. Part of this commitment involves recognizing that far-flung supply chains are no longer suited to the needs of this moment. Overseas transport and large-scale inventory warehousing aren’t cheap, while today’s web-based, highly personalized commerce experiences demand a reactivity, speed, and agility that only digital on-demand fulfilment models can satisfy.
In an on-demand supply chain, all stakeholders and components need to be aligned and activated at speed. We asked Simon for his insights on collaboration, and if we can truly implement on-demand manufacturing across the fashion supply chain without it.
“Well, for me, I’ve been using a new word. And this is coopetition. In the space of social environmental, lots of people are talking about how we’re collaborating and that is a great thing. People talking and sharing knowledge and in the space of what’s now termed ESG, that should be an area where it's not competitive, and where collaboration is going to help accelerate progress rather than a siloed approach.
“Through the work I was doing at ASOS, and when I was sourcing for third-party branded programs, we were not only talking to our own factories, but we were also using that power of purchase to talk to the to the third-party brands we work with about what they are doing in the space. So, for me, collaboration with partners and people that are facing the same challenges are absolutely essential and to the point where I’d say you’ve got the likes of Under Armour and Puma talking to each other. It’s a space where the sportswear brands are working on initiatives, so yes, they are collaborating. Collaboration is absolutely essential.”
Our next keyword for discussion is transparency. Will the fashion industry really share its data?
Simon confirmed: “Brands need clarity, and consumers demand visibility; for this to be achieved, both need transparency. Brands and manufacturers need to share their data to assure their customers that they are responsible and that they are meeting their challenges and obligations. I believe the answer is a loud yes—the industry is moving towards transparency, the data is out there, and there can be no hiding the facts. This isn’t the time to be guarded. It just won’t wash with the client or the consumer.”
After many decades in the industry, Simon has a clear vision of the work required to rewire the industry. His vision, insights, and experience offer a deep vault of knowledge. Simon encourages and implements knowledge transfer instinctively, and he firmly believes that knowledge is power, and as such, an asset that should be shared freely. He confirmed:
“There’s a real link between knowledge, information, shared data, better sourcing behavior, and profitability,” he said.
Scott Walton, Head of Global Business Development at Kornit Digital, summed up our discussion: “The fashion industry is a complex system. Many of the industry’s pain points are based on the values and disciplines of a marketplace that no longer exists. I believe that we have a new generation, a strong cohort that won’t accept the mistakes of the past. Fashion needs a complete reset. The primary business model is based on false economy. All stakeholders need to invest time, energy, training, and technical resources to break the cycle once and for all. I guess we come full circle here: we need to collaborate, invest in our stakeholders, and invest in people and the planet. Only then will we be able to fashion a new future for the industry.”
If we can share our knowledge and unlock the data hidden deep within the supply chain, then we can surely accelerate change.
To learn more from Simon Platts, join him at the Kornit UK LIVE event alongside Scott Walton on June 21 for an informative, truthful, and inspirational conversation.
Simon Platts (Ex-Director ASOS and Expert on-demand & on-shore model) and Scott Walton (Kornit Digital).
TOPIC: Going Deeper into Supply Chain Disruptions
UK Live event at T-Shirt & Sons on 21st June (on-site attendance and livestream taking place).
Since the start of the COVID-19, the supply chain has experienced significant disruptions, including factory closures, labor shortages, fluctuations in freight costs, congestion at ports, and even a war in Eastern Europe. Attendees will be:
- Engaging in an insightful discussion with industry experts to address some of these challenges.
- Understanding how to address the challenges of overall production wastage, landfill, and production returns.
- Discussing with the experts in the industry today’s supply chain challenges.
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