As the industry steadily shifts away from big volume orders, suppliers are increasingly facing the reality of the situation and are trying to find ways to be more flexible.
At the recent Global Source Fashion exhibition (Hong Kong, April 27-30), about a third of the exhibitors displayed signage saying “Accept Small Orders”, hoping to attract those small to medium sized buyers who previously they would have shunned.
Recognizing that for most companies selling online means selling on Amazon, the show featured a section dedicated to helping small to medium sized retailers find reliable suppliers through its Global Sources Network.
“It used to be very difficult to find quality suppliers that were willing to do small orders. We know there are many small sellers on Amazon who faced this problem so we want to help them get access to good suppliers through our platform,” Carol Law from Global Sources organizing team, told Inside Fashion.
The fair also featured a special zone displaying products from exhibitors that are available for delivery within 48 hours.
“We are always able to see quality buyers at Global Sources. We’ve been attending this show for many years, and we’ve gotten great results,” said Ravi Chunilal, general manager at Kiara Garments (Vietnam) Ltd., a Vietnam-based garment factory mainly exporting to Italy and Brazil.
“This is my first time participating in the fair and I am pleasantly surprised by the feedback I got. Our products are quite trendy (not big volume, mass market) and we found that a lot of buyers were interested in them,” said Jutta Teschner, CEO at Fishbelly Ltd., which makes high fashion intimate apparel using premium materials like silk and lace and offers MOQs as low as five pieces.
Take It Higher
“Consumers don’t want to buy products that are expensive unless they can see some real added value. Nowadays it is very difficult to slap a big logo on something and expect consumers to pay a premium for it. People now want something that lasts longer. When they buy something special they want to use it for a long time.” said Ms. Teschner at Fishbelly, pointing out that today’s consumers are willing to pay more for what they like, but the product has to offer better value for the money to justify its price tag.
“People want to find something interesting, so we play with materials to upgrade the look. For example, we use silk on this piece to give it a shiny and smooth look. One might be able to bring the production cost down by using polyester to create a similar look, but it’s a totally different product,” she told Inside Fashion.
As suppliers try to move up the value chain, they are learning that a higher price tag has to be supported by better value products. “We have positioned ourselves as a high-end supplier. We offer collections with better quality and more complicated designs and add details like beads, sequins, and embroidery to our products. By adding a little twist on some of the classic sweater designs, we were able to work with better brands and get a better price,” said Stella Chen, International Dept. Supervisor at Tianjin Xinfa Woolen Knitwear Co., Ltd.
Even fast fashion brands are upgrading more of their products to attract consumers. “We worked with Zara on one of their less volume-driven products. It’s a special embroidered sweater that they are planning to put in their Zara shops. You can clearly see that they have upgraded some of their product to create some ‘bright spots’ on the retail floor. This sweater costs around US$25 per piece. I don’t know how much money they are going to charge at retail, but it surely won’t be the typical cheap, ‘fast fashion price’ people have in mind,” Ms. Fei at AIT Apparel Co., Ltd. told Inside Fashion.
“We see other brands upgrading their products, too. We have another big brand doing a foil print zipper coat with us. Again, it is something very beautiful and one would not expect to see it at a mass-market retailer like them,” said Ms. Fei.