Copenhagen Fashion Summit: Perspectives on the supply chain with Spencer Fung
To really change the fashion industry, all actors must be involved. The Copenhagen Fashion Summit, which was held May 15 and 16, invited the entire industry to participate in a "systematic change".
Brands were invited to change their practices, but also the event did not forget the importance of suppliers. On the morning of day two of the event, one of the most powerful of these was on stage to detail recent initiatives. Spencer Fung, the fourth family generation and leader of the textile giant Li & Fung, clarified his approach to digitalisation.
"We have long been a regional player. We have benefited from globalisation and we are now a global player. But as consumers are changing much faster than before, we have to innovate ... or die. Last year, we started a journey to create the supply chain of the future," he said.
For the group, which is based in Hong Kong and recorded more than $13.5 billion in revenues, this involves the digitalisation of its processes. An approach that must, according to its director general, bring new flexibility to the sector, but also change its practices towards more responsible behaviours.
"Honestly, a year ago, we didn’t exactly know what this meant," said the leader. “We now have a clearer vision with different key points for us, but also for our customers. We are focused on 3D virtual design. This reduces the design time and drastically cuts the production of samples. This represents material savings and huge gains for retailers. But we are also working on solutions so that small and medium-sized companies can have solutions in Saas to improve their performance," he added.
Facing the Copenhagen Fashion Summit audience, Spencer Fung did not advocate prudence, but rather adaptation.
"Speed is very important because the world and consumers are moving faster. When the customer goes ten times faster than before and knows what he wants when he enters the store, 40 weeks between design and arrival in store, it's too long. We wanted to go to 20 or even 16 weeks, but that's still not really fast enough. We must see how to respond to consumer demand. Most people use 10 percent of their wardrobe, so they want a specific product," he added.
This would allow retailers to reduce stock and the volume of products defined, and therefore reduce the production of fiber meters that end up each year unsold.
For Spencer Fung, digitalisation will allow for more transparency and as a result, improve the living conditions of workers.
"Transparency allows us to trace social problems," he said. "The sector employs hundreds of millions of people. Our business involves 5 million workers. We set up an application where each of them can make an observation of their daily life and what will be important to them in the future. In a transparent world, every person, every worker or consumer will have a voice that carries," he concluded.
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