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Press Release

Bonn 10/24/2017

The future of fashion logistics centers on humans

  • Joint study conducted by DHL, the Council of Fashion Designers of America Inc., Accenture outlines challenges and recommendations for successful supply chains in the fashion business
  • Flexible adaptations and agile processes required to address radical industry changes caused by digitalization and e-commerce
  • ’Designer’s Playbook’ offers fashion content creators step-by-step instructions for establishing their brands in the new fashion world
DHL, the Council of Fashion Designers of America Inc. (CFDA) and the consulting firm Accenture (NYSE: ACN) have published a study on the future of fashion logistics entitled ’The Human-Centered Supply Chain’External Link / New Window. The study identifies major challenges that fashion industry supply chains will face in the future as well as areas where action must be taken, and it also proposes various solutions. Crucially, it highlights that, in an increasingly digital world, humans will continue to play a critical role in the supply chain supporting the fashion industry. The advent of new digital technologies will enable new forms of collaboration between fashion industry players and allow them to operate more flexibly, transparently and sustainably. A ‘Designer’s Playbook’External Link / New Window has also been created based on the study’s insights, which offers budding fashion creators specific instructions to help them successfully establish their brands and companies in the dynamic world of fashion. DHL instigated the study and also contributed its global expertise in fashion logistics to the analysis in its capacity as the logistics partner of CFDA and major fashion events.

“The fashion industry is no longer what it was just a few years ago,” says Arjan Sissing, Senior Vice President Corporate Brand Marketing at Deutsche Post DHL Group. “Digitalization and the resulting boom in e-commerce have helped supercharge the naturally fast-paced fashion business and its production and sales processes.” With today’s optimized supply chains, designers can now get their products to customers faster and more easily than ever and as a result boost their competitiveness in a cut-throat market environment.

The study is consciously designer-focused. “Agility will be crucial in the fashion logistics of the future,” says Sissing. “Traditional processes in fashion will soon be outdated for designers – instead, the industry will have to utilize interconnectedness, dialog and information flows.” Fashion designers are thus becoming the central link in a supply chain consisting of agile networks and partnerships, one that is managed and monitored with digital tools.

The study identified four key areas in which digitalization and e-commerce have created new challenges and opportunities for designers. The first key area, ‘process ownership’, involves defining both clear and flexible processes that extend from purchase, through production to delivery. The importance of aspects such as transparency and sustainability also has to be communicated to partners and deliverers so that they too can become more transparent and sustainable in their business. The second area is ’relationship building’. The fashion industry has always primarily sustained itself on personal networks and contacts. Since cooperation and sharing of expertise and structures have become increasingly important to sustainable supply chains, the significance of relationships and partnerships has also continued to increase. ‘Brand operations’ are the third key focus. The establishment of an unambiguous brand is of major significance when it comes to working efficiently and presenting a consistent image to customers and suppliers. For fashion retailers, the supply chain must also form part of their brand story. The final core area is ’actionable information’, which consists of a constant flow of information between deliverers, designers and customers for the purpose of further optimizing processes and products and responding to customer demands. Insights from workshops with design students and established designers as well as interviews with supply chain partners for the fashion industry also informed the study.

DHL provides logistics services to the fashion industry on a global scale, offering customers a comprehensive range of logistics solutions tailored to unique demands. These solutions include express delivery, e-commerce fulfillment as well as warehousing and value-added service solutions. As a logistics partner for the London Fashion Week and the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Weeks in Sydney and Moscow, DHL lends its know-how to some of the most significant events industry-wide – it’s also, for example, involved with the Amazon Fashion Week in Tokyo.

DHL collaborates with the American association CFDA, the British Fashion Council (BFC), and the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (CNMI) in Milan. DHL and the BFC also join forces every year to present the annual “DHL Award for International Fashion Potential”. Together with the CNMI, DHL organizes workshops for startups and young designers and, in September, one outstanding participant was presented with the “Young Designer DHL Award 2017” by DHL and the CNMI.