Overproduction: Taboo in Fashion

Generally speaking 30% of the clothes produced is never sold. Yet another 30% only leaves the shops with discount. Fashion brands I talk to, big and small, are all aware of this issue. All of them are dealing with sample stocks, unsold batches and returned clothes that were first bought through the web-shop. Add the 15% rest material that stays in the factory after the pattern pieces are cut out of the fabrics plus the in-between-stock that stays behind in the factories due to mistakes in the production and you start to understand why fashion is the second biggest environmentally polluting industry (after the oil-industry) in the world.

IMG_1420-1024x682

Photo by Sympany

Overproduction seems to be accepted as an entrepreneurial risk for which solutions are rarely researched and applied. It’s a shame in my opinion because there is a way to prevent overproduction by applying a smarter design process, having a clearer communication between fashion brands and factories and choosing for a business model that makes reuse profitable. All these initiatives, however, are only applied on a small scale. I wonder why?

Fashion and Sustainability

When we think of sustainability and fashion, the first topics that come to mind are, reduction of water and energy use, payment of living wages, clean production processes, reduction of CO2 emission, use of environmentally friendly materials and recycling. Choosing for sustainable practices is furthermore considered as an extra financial investment.

textiles-crew

Photo by Ecologic Republic

But why is prevention of overproduction not one of the sustainability goals of fashion brands today? Imagine a brand sharing in their sustainability rapport that last year they ended up with 40% overproduction and that it’s their goal to reduce this percentage by half within the upcoming X years.

After all, preventing overproduction helps to achieve sustainability goals mentioned above and save financial investments.

Solutions for overproduction

One of the solutions that I promote in order to prevent overproduction is a dialogue between fashion brands and their clients. Through a dialogue fashion brands can learn to know their target audience and understand their desires and frustrations in regards to the offered clothes. A dialogue helps to not only see what got sold and what not, but also to understand why a certain design is successful and another one isn’t.

‘Find your perfect fit’ by Woolworth is an example of a valuable interaction with the consumers. Consumers were invited to be scanned with a special 3D scanner after which they received a print with the advised confection sizes for them. The collected data were furthermore used to improve the sizing of clothes.

Noluthando+Sicholo

Taking measures by a 3D body scanner at Sandton City in Johannesburg in part of a campaign by Woolworths. Image by Alon Skuy (Source).

An other solution, this time to prevent the in-between-stock that stays behind in the factories due to production mistakes, is developing clearer sewing descriptions. Software such as Clo3D  can help to visualize the designs more realistically. This already helps to predict how the design would look when it’s sewn out of textiles, which in turn will shorten the sampling process and save resources. Furthermore Clo3D can help to export elaborate visuals from different angles which can be included in the sewing description of the designs. The more elaborate and specific the visuals are, the less chance for confusion and different interpretations by the production workers in the factories.

bg_main_mac2

Image by CLO3D

Stop sale

I suggest a switch from the existing business model that promotes sale to another business model that promotes reuse. This second option will result in high quality clothes being affordable to a large group of consumers and a higher profit margin for the fashion brand.

Appreciation for clothes declines when they are offered with discount for no reason after a couple of weeks or months hanging in the shop. Consumers wait until sale before buying a garment and feel a sense of success for only paying half the price without wondering for too long how the discount is possible. Buying clothes for cheap also results in people taking less care of the clothes they own.

“If the dress is worn out after a few washes, then I can simply through it away and buy a new one. The price is arbitrary anyway.”

This is one of the answers I’ve heard during my research on the relationship people have with clothes (Clothes Relationships). No wonder that per year approximately 135 million kilo’s of textiles are burned along with our domestic waste in the Netherlands alone.

The business model that I suggest exists out of:

  • Producing only what is expected to sell based on thorough research and a dialogue with the target audience.
  • Selling new clothes for the full price.
  • Start selling second hand clothes with discount.
  • Offering consumers the option of borrowing clothes through an internal clothing library.

This business model can help fashion brands to make up to 70% more profit than now. Part of the extra profit can be invested towards an ongoing dialogue with the consumers and internal innovation and another part of the extra profit can be invested in fair wages for the workers and cleaner production processes.

Although there are many initiatives for preventing overproduction, the issue first needs to be accepted as the result of mistakes made during design and production. Only then the problem can be measured, understood and solved by implementing the best suiting solutions.

What are your thoughts on overproduction? I would love to read them below in the comments section and I secretly hope that this article will help to start a brainstorm around the topic.

Let’s take bigger steps towards good fashion.

Hasmik Matevosyan

  1. Hannah Carter May 24, 2016

    Hi Hasmik, Thank you for a great article. It’s the big high street brands who have the biggest problem with over-production due to the huge numbers of customers and their clothes buying habits. I believe the key to starting to address this is by creating collections that collaborate with celebrities or young designers. Then devising marketing campaigns around them that make customers think about their buying habits. These limited collections would sell out fast and create buzz and demand for more of the same.

    H&M brought clothes recycling to their customers minds but then encouraged them to buy more. Patagonia did a good marketing campaign telling customers, "Don’t buy this jacket." Great for getting them to think about their buying habits but, because of the campaign, sales increased.

    I believe these millions of high street customers are the key to stopping over-production. By helping them think about their buying habits, gradually over-production could be reduced.

  2. Diane May 26, 2016

    There have to be big changes made and we the consumer will have to be educated to make those changes. This kind of article is very helpful – thank you. You may be heartened to know I have just found a clothing manufacturing business in India which embraces these ideas in their production with no overr runs. http://storeuntold.com/go-green-not-with-envy-but-fashion/

Add Comment

Meta Fashion Summit

Organized by Hasmik Matevosyan and Stephan van Eken
Took Place on the 19th of November
Utrecht, The Netherlands

IMG_3207

It can be challenging for fashion companies to keep up with innovations and move a fashion business towards a more sustainable future. Many questions arise such as:

  • Which innovations are out there that can be valuable for our company?
  • Which new business models and strategies have led to successful results?
  • How to manage the financing of a sustainable or circular fashion company?
  • How to find addresses of ethical producers and sustainable textile-manufacturers?
  • How to convince the end customers to choose a sustainable product above a (mostly cheaper) non-sustainable one?
  • How to better collaborate in this industry?

Our goal with this first event was to acceletate positive changes within the fashion industry. We decided to do so by connecting gamechangers, sharing relevant knowledge and of course inspiration! Read below how the visitors experienced the first edition of the Meta Fashion Summit.
 
“This was a summit about sustainability and new approached of the fashion industry which was inspiring and useful!”- Joan den Exter
“Great initiative. Met lot of people with passion for fashion. Want to see the platform in bigger context. Hope you guys will keep working to change the industry for better.” – S.M. Musa
“The Meta Fashion Summit was very well organised, keynote speakers with interesting news about relevant business issues. Well done!” – Rita van den Berg
“Meta Fashion Summit provided us with the opportunity to get a glance into the fashion world and it’s revolution.” – Rosalie Oomen
“In November 2016 I was a speaker at the Meta Fashion Summit. It was a very interesting event where professionals as well as students could meet each other and talk not only about sustainable fashion, but also about system change within the fashion industry. I greatly enjoyed this event and it was a wonderful opportunity to share and hear new ideas and to get in touch with likeminded people.” – Anke van den Ban
“Such an inspiring event. Networking and guiding each other is such an essential part for a more sustainable (fashion) future. Thanks to Stephan and Hasmik for making this possible. I feel events like the ‘Meta Fashion Summit’ is exactly what we need more from.”
“The Meta Fahion Summit was a good opportunity to get in contact with other people and company’s who want to make sustainable fashion.”

Subscribe to Hasmik’s mailing list

* indicates required



Email Format

Testimonial

“Due to the Thanksgiving Holiday I had time yesterday to relax and enjoy watching all of your videos in a row. Wow! They are beautifully filmed, and while they are short in timeframe they are packed with information.

I know that I will be going back and watching again. I am also going to return to your book to dig deeper into certain areas.

The one that really left me thinking yesterday was your comment about the fact that consumers connect better to a product that really serves them, than a marketing message about how it is eco & ethical. Also, that having a prosperous company allows for the implementation of people and planet friendly initiatives.

I also really liked your explanations of the different business models and the overall information on apparel lifecycle – and how supporting your customers in the care and end of life of their clothing can make a big environmental impact. I am letting the information filter through my mind, to see if I have insights on how to best apply it with Cheval Amour.” Lisa Simmons

 

“In my ongoing exploration of what is fair fashion and what businesses in the textile industry can do to change their operations for the better, I came across Hasmik’s book “Paradigm Shift in Fashion”. I really enjoyed reading her perspective on how fashion companies can transform their business model by starting at the beginning of the design process – instead of focusing on operations in the supply chain which is more commonly spoken about in sustainable fashion. She advocates more engagement with the brand’s customers and making them part of the design process. With practical tips and a design system on how to go about this, Hasmik provides a refreshing and inspiring approach to changing the fashion industry in her book, and in person when speaking to her about her work and vision.” Mathilde Teuben

 

“I’ve met Hasmik during my research for my graduation thesis, which was focused on the subject of sustainability. After reading her book “Paradigm Shift in Fashion” I had the opportunity to interview her and talk about her book more into depth. The book is well written and offers an innovative design system for brands in order to make sustainability viable, which is different from other books, as they only describe the matter but don’t give a suggestion for a solution. She is such an inspiring and intelligent person, I could talk with her for hours, she knows a great deal about sustainability. I would recommend Hasmik and her professionalism about sustainability for brands who are trying to make a difference.” Dena Simaite

slide_book

Copyright Hasmik Matevosyan 2016

Paradigm Shift in Fashion PARADIGM SHIFT
IN FASHION
24.95

‘There is no doubt in my mind that fashion, designed to meet the needs and desires of the future wearer and which has been intelligently produced for the purpose of easy reuse of materials, meanwhile contributing to the lives of tailors, can in fact be profitable.’

In this book Hasmik Matevosyan shows fashion brands and all those involved in fashion today exactly how to do this. She offers a design system that helps fashion brands to start a dialogue with their target audience, build a community and design clothes based on the needs and desires of their clients. Not only the consumer benefits from this ‘social fashion’, it would mean major improvements for all the stakeholders involved in the fashion chain.

Retailers can benefit from this new type of fashion by adjusting their role from being solely a sales location to being an all-round service provider regarding clothes. Hasmik offers practical tools and several case studies making it easy to start implementing this shared knowledge right away.




TESTIMONIALS

“In my ongoing exploration of what is fair fashion and what businesses in the textile industry can do to change their operations for the better, I came across Hasmik’s book “Paradigm Shift in Fashion”. I really enjoyed reading her perspective on how fashion companies can transform their business model by starting at the beginning of the design process – instead of focusing on operations in the supply chain which is more commonly spoken about in sustainable fashion. She advocates more engagement with the brand’s customers and making them part of the design process. With practical tips and a design system on how to go about this, Hasmik provides a refreshing and inspiring approach to changing the fashion industry in her book, and in person when speaking to her about her work and vision.” Mathilde Teuben

 

“I’ve met Hasmik during my research for my graduation thesis, which was focused on the subject of sustainability. After reading her book “Paradigm Shift in Fashion” I had the opportunity to interview her and talk about her book more into depth. The book is well written and offers an innovative design system for brands in order to make sustainability viable, which is different from other books, as they only describe the matter but don’t give a suggestion for a solution. She is such an inspiring and intelligent person, I could talk with her for hours, she knows a great deal about sustainability. I would recommend Hasmik and her professionalism about sustainability for brands who are trying to make a difference.” Dena Simaite

 

“Paradigm shift in fashion’ heb ik in één keer uitgelezen. Interessant voor iedereen die meer wil weten over hoe een duurzame toekomst van de modewereld eruit kan zien & praktische stappen wil weten om daar te komen. Inspirerend en praktisch boek!” Anjolieke Dertien

 

“Hoe verander je een wereldwijde miljoenenindustrie van vervuilend en mensonterend naar eerlijk en duurzaam?
Er zijn maar weinig mensen die daar een helder antwoord op hebben. Hasmik is een van die mensen. In haar boek geeft ze een goed gedocumenteerde beschrijving van haar systeem en haar visie. Niet in grote lijnen, maar praktisch toepasbaar en tot in detail uitgewerkt. Of het ook echt in de dagelijkse modepraktijk gaat werken, is nog afwachten. Maar een eerste stap is gezet, nu is de branche aan zet.” Richwald Feenstra

 

“Het boek van Hasmik schetst een helder beeld van de problemen in de huidige textielindustrie, maar gelukkig blijft het daar niet bij. Sterker nog: het boek maakt juist indruk door de innovatieve visie en praktische oplossingen die Hasmik aandraagt om deze problemen op te lossen.

Als (startend) ondernemer in de textielindustrie pas ik de aangedragen oplossingen uit het boek momenteel toe in de praktijk. Het design system dat Hasmik beschrijft in het boek stelt de klant echt centraal. Het onderzoek naar de behoeften van de klant kost t.o.v. de gebruikelijke werkwijze iets meer tijd in het begin, maar het levert zoveel waardevolle informatie op dat dit het meer dan waard is. Want waarom zouden we brede collecties ontwerpen, deze zo snel mogelijk laten produceren (met verlies van kwaliteit), en dan maar hopen dat de klanten het willen hebben? Dat is als schieten met hagel en dan hopen dat er iets raak is.

Kortom: dit boek is een echte aanrader! Voor geïnteresseerde consumenten, maar ook voor iedereen die iets doet in de keten van textiel, van (grote en kleine) kledingmerken tot retailers!

Tot slot, ook haar optreden op TedX Maastricht is overigens een aanrader om te kijken!” Brendy Boogaard

 

“Het boek spreekt duidelijke taal en leest heerlijk weg. Het was zowel bevestigend als verrassend en ik vind dat iedereen die in de fashion werkt het sowieso moet lezen om zich in te lezen over het business model. De huidige modellen voldoen niet meer aan deze tijd!

Ik ben ontzettend blij dat er mensen zijn als Hasmik die met zoveel passie informatieve boeken schrijven en zo de wereld in de industrie kunnen veranderen. Complimenten!” Sabrina Wullur

 

“Ben jij op zoek naar een manier om van de oude economie in de nieuwe economie in te stappen? Zoek niet verder, maar lees dit boek. Een heldere omschrijving van alternatieven voor de staande ontwerp-, productie-, marketing- en verkoopsystematiek. Laat je inspireren om dit model op alle mogelijke terreinen toe te passen!

Are you looking to leave the old economy and are you searching for ways to step into the new economy? Look no further and read this book. It will provide you with alternatives for the standing design-, production-, marketing- and sales systems. Get inspired to work with this new outlook in all thinkable areas!” Jessica Maas

Fashion and Sustainability Researcher, Consultant, Public Speaker and Connector

944886_1205803216115305_2527063763226233469_n

When I can help you with advice or my network, we can plan a consultancy meeting online.

Contact me please by sending an e-mail to hasmik@hasmikmatevosyan.com for more details. I will get back to you the same day, I promise.

MY BACKGROUND

I was born in Armenia in 1987. At the age of 14 I came to the Netherlands with my family where I later studied fashion design and communication.

In 2012 I received my Master of Arts degree in Fashion Communication Design.

The year 2014 was a great year for getting it touch with like minded people all around the world. In May 2014 I was awarded a title of a Radical Innovator of the Future with the design system and the business model that I have developed for the fashion industry. In October I was able to publish my first book and share my findings of a research that I had spent 4 years on. In October I was also invited to give a Tedx Talk about the subject and you can view the video below. My Tedx Talk was chosen as editors pick in the US and helped me to reach out to many professionals working in the same field as I am.

In 2015 I developed the video-course Good Fashion Mastery where I share new and more detailed findings from my research with fashion designers and brands.

In 2016 I focused on creating a community of fashion professionals who are working towards improving the fashion industry. I created a group on Facebook (731 members) and one on Linkedin (623 members) to connect like-minded fashion professionals and help each other with inspiration, knowledge and network. Members of the groups share interesting articles around sustainabillity, new business models, innovation and fashion.  They start discussions, ask for help, introduce inspiring companies and themselves. Feel welcome to join.

This year I was nominated for the Viva400 Award in the catergory ‘World Improver’.

At the end of 2016, in collaboration with Stephan van Eken we organized our first seminar: the Meta Fashion Summit. Our goal with this event was to acceletate positive changes within the fashion industry. We decided to do so by connecting gamechangers, sharing relevant knowledge and of course inspiration.

In 2017 I will mainly be in Cyprus and work on my research from another country than where it all started. To be completely exact, it all started when I was 5 years old and living in Armenia, not the Netherlands. My mother, who was knitting clothes for her customers, was my inspiration and first teacher. She was the one who made me appreciate the effort that is put into the making of a garment. She also made me want to learn to design clothes that would be cherished and would stay in people’s memories for years.

This year, you will mainly find me online. There are exciting plans which I will shre with you throughout the year through my blog and my social media groups.

Don’t hesitate to contact me, our conversation might even develop into a brainstorm session.

 

Blog
Meta Fashion Summit
Overproduction: Taboo in Fashion
Good Fashion Mastery is ready!
Second update about Good Fashion Mastery
Launch Good Fashion Mastery
First update about Good Fashion Mastery
True Cost Movie, my reaction
Q&A: How much time is the prototyping step going to take?
Q&A: Can sustainability and economy be combined?
Good Fashion Mastery

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding the given information on the website, or if you would like to plan a meeting.

E-mail: Hasmik@HasmikMatevosyan.com

Located in the Netherlands | KvK-nr. 53476913 | BTW-nr. NL246172459B01 | Triodos Bank IBAN NL79TRIO0390529249

This website is hosted by Greenhost.net